Day 6/Part 4–
After Pierre managed to get us down the mountain, I felt happy that we had made past the gate (and that we weren’t locked in), but I was still worried. Pierre was extremely sick and suffering from elevation sickness. His symptoms included: nausea, severe headache, chills, feeling feverish, and he also was having difficulty breathing normally. For lack of a better way to describe it…he was almost panting.
I thought he was going to pull over when we passed through the gate, but he kept driving toward town, which was still a few miles away. He told me later, that he knew that if he stopped, he probably wouldn’t be able to start again. He was able to stay focused until he pulled into the parking lot in San Pedro de Atacama.
As he parked the camper, I felt a wave of relief roll over me. Not because our problem was solved, but because I knew that I would able to get medical attention for him if he needed it. I’m certainly not a doctor, but I wondered if in addition to the symptoms that I already described, if he was also dehydrated. He had vomited multiple times, and putting it simply–he looked like hell! He was pale and lethargic by this point.
I asked him what he wanted me to do for him, and he replied, “I want to sleep.”
He crawled into the back of the camper and instantly fell asleep. The camper was dark and I stayed with him for a few minutes. I really didn’t know if he was okay. I watched him for a few more minutes, and then I decided to venture out and find food. We hadn’t eaten since lunch, and I knew that he had to eat and drink something.
I found a little restaurant close by, and the waitress spoke English. Again, I felt relieved…because now I had a solid plan. I would bring food back to Pierre, and if I discovered that had gotten any worse, I would ask the waitress to help me. When we were driving back into town, I had seen a big red cross (indicating a medical facility) on an informational sign, but I didn’t know where it was located. I don’t speak Spanish, but I had found someone who spoke English!
I ordered my meal and I kept the menu, so I could figure out what to order for Pierre. Everything seemed too spicy, or too heavy. The waitress brought out a bowl of chicken noodle soup. I didn’t order it, but she told me that it was included with my meal. It was delicious, and I knew exactly what I was going to bring back to Pierre–chicken noodle soup! I know, I know–how cliche–chicken soup for someone who is sick!
I explained to the waitress that my husband was sick, and I ordered soup to take back to him. I was afraid of being gone too long, so I ate quickly and headed out as soon as I was finished. He was still asleep when I got back, but he woke up when he heard me moving about. He said that he was feeling a bit better, and he was very happy to hear that I had brought back soup for him.
He sat up and I handed him the soup. He took a few bites, and asked, “Where are the noodles?”
I guess something had gotten lost in the translation, when I ordered his soup. It appeared to be same chicken stock, but his was filled with vegetables, and mine had been filled with noodles.
He said it was delicious, and in that moment, I was pretty sure that he was starting to feel better! Anyone who has the strength to wonder about missing noodles is probably going to be okay! In case you’re wondering, I never took a picture of the soup–mine or his!