A “Too-Hard” November: Nica Nugget #109

November was just too hard, bracketed early on as it was by two Category 4 hurricanes which slammed into the same place on the northeastern shore of Nicaragua.

As if seven months of the coronavirus weren’t enough. And coming right after a rainy month of October already.

On November 3, the first hurricane, Eta, hit the northeast coast, miles away from us down here in the southwestern corner of Nicaragua as we are.

But it still brought 8 days of torrential rain to us. And cold.

In anticipation, fishermen had pulled their boats out of San Juan Bay. Workers had filled sand bags and stacked them in front of their homes.

Rivers came up. Homes and yards and fields flooded.

A soggy, dead chick in the road made me do a two step.

Thankfully, our home stayed dry. And we hunkered down with our shivering dogs as we watched footage of flooding inundate our Facebook feeds.

Our Facebook feeds interlaced Nicaraguan hurricane tragedy with the election drama going on in the United States. The United States Presidential election took place on November 3rd, but due to the sheer number of mail-in ballots this election because of the pandemic, it took a week of nail biting before the winner was called.

How could I possibly write a Nica Nugget in early November while I was safe in my home and others in Nicaragua really suffered? How could the view from inside my dry walls be a contribution to the national conversation while others posted videos of water up to their necks and carrying babies on woven baskets on their heads? And how could I say anything of use in the midst of such a critical US election?

And yet, there are many different ways to suffer aren’t there?

While the rains poured, the dogs froze and shivered and came indoors with us. And then Ruffo really began to deteriorate.

He stopped walking with us. He stopped eating. And then suddenly he could barely get up. The local Vet’s diagnosis was arthritis.

The first hurricane, Eta, passed and the constant rains finally let up.

Then bang! We hear a crash on our front door. A dove sat stunned. John set it in an overturned red bucket to recover.

And then on November 15, I woke up with my left shoulder in agony. A pinched nerve. An inflamed nerve running from my brain down my neck, across my upper back and shoulder and down my left arm. I took Tylenol and nothing. I took 250mg of Advil and nothing. I took 600 mg of Advil, the most recommended, every four hours and still nothing. I was in pain. Extreme pain.

Dang! My own freakin’ wing was busted!

And then we got a warning of a second hurricane, Iota, baring down along the same path Eta had taken.

How was I going to handle a hurricane with an injury?

And Ruffo looked no better. His previously lean muscle mass was disappearing and turning to bone before our very eyes. We thought he was dying. Surely the first Vet’s diagnosis of arthritis was wrong. I consulted with a dog-knowledgeable friend. We needed a blood test.

This was during the lull between the two hurricanes. This was while the dove sat stunned, just shitting in our overturned red bucket.

I needed to get to a doctor myself. But that meant walking into town over the debris-strewn beach and across the cresting river as it met angry waves. All while I hurt so bad I wanted to vomit.

A second hurricane was upon us.

Ruffo appeared to be dying and I could barely move.

My own physical house was not flooded. But my body’s own home of nerves and bones and sinew was being ravaged! As was Ruffo’s body. As was the Dove’s.

Who says hurricanes can’t cause secondary damages?

I finally got in to see the doctor on November 25, and he put me on muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatories, a nerve fixer-upper pill and ice packs. It took the edge off my pain and then slowly but surely, but oh so slowly – three weeks after I started the meds and almost five weeks after the pain began – the pain finally went away.

Ruffo’s cuidador took him to get his blood work. It wasn’t arthritis. It turns out it was a tick bite that had him wasting away. Thank God, he finally got on the right medication. A month later and he still is recovering, but he’s coming back!

The US election results came in. The US has a new President-elect.

The second hurricane, Iota, hit in the same location in northeastern Nicaragua on November 16. It, like Eta, caused a lot of destruction. We, in southwestern Nicaragua, in San Juan del Sur, were spared.

Or were we?

We don’t think the dove made it. Its wing was broken. John freed it from its overturned red bucket and walked away.


  1. Sue Firkser says:

    Thanks for sharing, it was a bitch of a month. The same thing happened with my little dog Willow, all those symptoms, nearly died before I got her on Doxiciclina. Then in two days, she was sooo much better. A sign of tick-bite fever is pale gums, I know that now. Glad you are doing better too!

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