December 14, 2010 § 3 Comments
The best thing about getting sick is that it’s a perfectly acceptable excuse to stay curled up inside your bed. But when you’re thousands of miles away from your bed, in a bunk bed, sharing a hostel room with five strangers who are constantly entering and leaving the room, getting sick loses its benefits.
That’s what happened to Kasey in Córdoba, Argentina. She was convinced she had dengue fever (aka bone-crushing disease) because we had recently been bitten by mosquitoes in dengue-heavy Brazil, and the flu-like symptoms matched how Kasey was feeling.
Being stuck in a foreign country with a potentially serious sickness might sound dire, but Americans often forget that there is excellent healthcare available in countries other than the US. In fact doctors abroad are more familiar with regional diseases like dengue, malaria, etc., so they’re better able to diagnose and treat them than in America. So safety-wise, we felt in good hands.
For getting treatment, we had two options:
– Go to a FREE hospital. Yes, even for foreigners healthcare in Argentina is free.
– Pay to have a doctor come to our hostel.
We love free things, especially when trying to stick to our travel budget, but in the end we decided to cough up the $3.75 to have a doctor see Kasey in the hostel. Within two hours, a real, trained doctor arrived with her box of tools and diagnosed Kasey on her bunkbed, all for under four dollars.
The doctor said not to fret about dengue and that she probably just had the flu, an opinion that turned out to be correct. The doctor spoke at length about a couple dozen foods to eat and avoid, how to monitor herself going forward, and where to go if she continued feeling bad. Kasey started feeling better the next day and within two days she was back to 100%.
All told, getting sick wasn’t all bad. It was interesting to see medical practice in a different country and impressive to see the low cost of service and supplies (we also picked up a mercury thermometer for $1.50 and a refill of tylenol for $1.00). The hostel staff and other travelers were all very considerate, and the AC was a lifesaver for the feverish nights. In fact, Kasey appreciated the experience so much that a couple days later she gave me the pleasure of experiencing the same sickness myself!