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Ever gotten sick in a foreign land?

Have you ever required medical attention in a foreign land?
14 years ago, November 14th 2006 No: 1 Msg: #8530  
B Posts: 16
Just curious. How did that go? I'm sure it depends on the place. Insurance/expense issues? Communication issues? Reply to this

14 years ago, November 14th 2006 No: 2 Msg: #8549  
I had a grumbling tooth for much of the time we spent cruising Antarctica which eventually developed into an abcess during the last couple of days on the ship. I had to have the tooth removed in Buenos Aires. It was a little difficult ringing around trying to find an English speaking dentist, but eventually found one on the web (via his tango web site of all things) and his daughter did a grand job as translator. The cost didn't even amount to the insurance excess.
Reply to this

14 years ago, November 14th 2006 No: 3 Msg: #8553  
B Posts: 138
Hmm. I've gotten violently ill but I've been lucky that I havn't had to see a doctor while travelling. Usually a lovely drug combo of tylenol-gravol-immodium-rehydration salts-ciprofloxin does the trick. the Lonely Planet phrase book is usually pretty decent for getting you out of communication jams with your doctor. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 15th 2006 No: 4 Msg: #8559  
I tore my cruciate ligament skiing in new zealand. Now the healthcare was good, but I was on an organised tour, so I had to wait for everyone to finish skiing (I oviously fell over first thing!), so was sat in agony on the bus for about 5 hours. Then cos we were moving round so much I didn't really get the propper treatment, and ended up not-weight-bearing on crutches for 4 weeks (could have walked on it the next day with physio etc). But still had a great time (great excuse to get others to go to the bar and buy you drinks, and get sympathy and more drinks from complete strangers!). The flight home was a nitemare - I'd phoned quantas to tell them I couldn't bend my leg and needed xtra leg room - this was ok for the quiet flight to oz then singapore, but from singapore to london, they put me in an isle seat (apparently this is leg room) and I got my leg jarred every time the trolley went past as I couldn't fit it under the seat in front....
As for travel insurance, I'd for no apparent reason paid the £10 extra to waiver the excess for my travel insurance for the year, and claiming was really easy as I just kept everything. Didn't come to as much as I feared it might, had to pay for crutches and brace as well as the medical care I recieved. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 15th 2006 No: 5 Msg: #8577  
Have just gotten over a raging ear infection with pain like I never felt before from Diving in Borneo. Saw a doctor in Borneo when I still had fluid leaking from my ear 4 days after diving. That was relatively painless, although a little intimidating when the aide, who looked none too sure of herself, went to syringe my ears clean (back home it's only a doctor who does this!). Antibiotics the doctor gave me did nothing though, and another three days later it was off to a doctor in Thailand. This was horrible. By the end of the experience I didn't care whether I lived or died in the tuk tuk ride back home. See my blog "Infections, falls, and tigers" Doctor must have known what he was doing though, as now, a week or so later, I am mostly pus free in my ear! Cost was nil, compared to what I would pay in North America without insurance. I think like $30 cdn each time. The hardest part was finding a doctor in Kanchanaburi who spoke English. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 15th 2006 No: 6 Msg: #8582  
B Posts: 44
I got a stomach parasite in a remote part of the Peruvian Cañon del Colca region (about 15-20 hours away by 4x4/bus from the nearest city). I had just finished a 4-day trek and got stuck alone in a mud-hut village called Chachas for another 4 days. Meds weren't working, and my money was running out, too. I just remember the head of the village coming in to see me and telling me that I should go to the village doctor and he would stick a old-style syringe into my bum and all would be better. I opted out on that one...


Some photos of the trek:
Cañon del Colca!
Reply to this

14 years ago, November 17th 2006 No: 7 Msg: #8613  
B Posts: 23
Nothing as horrible as a lot of the above but I did have chicken-pox at Tokyo Disneyland!! No doctors or anything, luckily I had been vaccinated a couple of years earlier or it wouldve been shocking, as it was just knocked me round for a few days. On a related note, just got a flu shot in Japan- thought it was funny when they took my temperature before I went in to see the doctor!! Obsessed!! Reply to this

14 years ago, November 17th 2006 No: 8 Msg: #8630  
I picked up two botflies in the Belizean Jungles and they traveled with me for about a month. Once I figured out what they were I was able to get the one out of my shoulder on my own, but I had to turn to a doctor in Flores to evict a stubborn and fairly painful one out of my calf. My medical Spanish was non existent and his English was about as good as my Spanish, so I struggled to explain my problem - He finally understood what was going on when I read the Latin name for the botfly infection out of a medical book I had (he then told me the Spanish name for the botfly, which I quickly forgot). He managed to kill the little critter, but he was unable to get him out of my leg and I had to carry it with me for another few weeks - I managed to finally get him out during a 4th of July celebration back home in the USA, which made all of the guests at the party a little sick. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 18th 2006 No: 9 Msg: #8636  
I had a terrible blistering rash (maybe from some kind of plant?) in rural Bolivia. I went to the local hospital/health clinic and paid US $5 to see the doctor and get a prescription. I don't think I would have wanted to be violently ill there, but it was definitely cheap and the doctor was very nice. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 18th 2006 No: 10 Msg: #8641  
B Posts: 1
One of my colleagues fell violently ill while I was managing a project in The Gambia. Luckily we found a very good Iranian doctor who came to our hotel in the middle of the night... and was on call anytime after that. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 21st 2006 No: 11 Msg: #8706  
I caught salmonella in Warsaw airport on my way home to Ireland after 3 weeks in Eastern Europe. (At least thats the only place it can be pinned to). Thankfully as I was travelling alone, it only came to light after an incubation period. Unfortunately the hospital care I received in Ireland was similar to that I would expect in a third world country. I was discharged from A&E after being admitted by ambulance 24 hours before, without diagnosis or medication. 48 hours later when I was readmitted the same patients were still awaiting beds on trolleys, a man of 70+ had been sleeping in a chair for 72 hours. A cuffed prisoner who had been stabbed was bleeding in the waiting room for 12 hours. I was put in isolation (a cupboard with a curtain) but there was only 1 toilet for the whole of A&E, the waiting room and the visitors, very helpful when you need to go every 20 minutes dragging a drip with you & have a highly contagious disease. Teenage kids drunk/having their stomaches pumped screamed and abused the staff all night (it was the weekend!) and a homeless man who had been dumped in the Liffey was left to sleep it off on a mattress on the floor before doing a runner in a hospital gown. Just as well I was too sick to be worried about my safety. When I finally got a bed, while it was a private room (I was still undiagnosed and contagious) it was on an old peoples ward. One night, one nurse worked 2 6-bed wards and 4 privates on her own and this was old high-care patience who sat up and forgot where they were and regularly accused the nurses of trying to kill them . I went entire shifts without seeing a nurse or doctor. Needless to say it took a week to diagnose salmonella. I can't help but wonder if I had been admitted to hospital in Warsaw, if I would have been diagnosed and treated within a day or two. Moral of the story...never go to A&E (especially the Mater on Dublins Northside) in Ireland, fly home if possible or at least to London. I have to stress the nurses and staff at the hospital were incredible. No amount of money could make me want to do their job! Reply to this

14 years ago, November 23rd 2006 No: 12 Msg: #8744  
While spending my summer in a village in a remote part of Ghana, I was afflicted with what the family I lived with called "the runny stomach." After 5 days of the runny stomach, we left the village and took 12 hour car ride to the capital city of Accra. Needless to say, 12 hour car rides and runny stomachs aren't compatible. At one point we had to stop in a village, go a local church's compound, greet the 20 or so people that were there, give a detailed explanation of my condition, and then I was entitled to use a (much appreciated) full-fledged porcelain toilet. I was very embarassed because they felt it necessary to have an attendant clean the toilet and stand outside while I did my noisy business. And speaking of noisy business, the house in which I stayed in Accra was quite a nice one and it had two bathrooms. The one near my room had a crack between the wall and the room so I could hear all the commotion outside while the kids washed the dishes from dinner. I was splendid entertainment for the kids and each time I let out some gas, I was rewarded with squeals of delight and hysterical laughter followed by muttering about "runny stomach". However, the highlight of my sickness had to be the wedding we attended in Accra, where I was greeted by countless guests who very solemnly asked about the details of my stomach condition. When we planned to leave Accra, and on my 8th day sickness, I ruined our plans to return to the village that day because I thought it best to seek out medical care in the capital before returning to the village. Luckily, my host father knew a good doctor who left a church service he was attending to come and diagnose me. He recommended a blood test.... Traditionally I've been terrified of needles, but by that point I could have cared less as long as something would make me feel better. First we went to a public hospital where people were lying in beds in the open air, but due to the long line, we decided I wouldn't get my blood taken there 😊 Next we went to a private hospital and I got my blood taken in a place that inspired more confidence. For the next two weeks I took handfulls of prescribed antibiotics and drank bottles of oral rehydration salts. My condition began improving in about two days. Much to my chagrin, the stool and blood samples came back negative, and I had to accept my host parents' diagnosis that my condition was a result of a change of diet. Needless to say, I learned not to be shy about stomach conditions. Reply to this

14 years ago, November 23rd 2006 No: 13 Msg: #8748  
B Posts: 23
What a great (funny now) story ChristinJ !!! Reply to this

14 years ago, November 26th 2006 No: 14 Msg: #8785  
I pride myself on the fact that I have had to visit several doctors on my travels. Firstly was 4 years ago when I developed food poisoning on the flight home from Thailand (yes on the flight...plane toilets have never looked the same). So my first visit to an overseas doctor was in Bahrain airport. Very amusing - the doctor insisted I go to meet all his family. I declined, having my head in the sink at the time.

Since leaving UK on this trip I have been to no less than 4 doctors, mostly for tummy related issues.

In Bolivia I saw a lovely doctor in La Paz who was excellent. He even came to visit me in my really crappy hostel (quite embarassing really!) after a few days to see how I was! His diagnosis of giardia was spot on too! He was also very interested in my opinion of George Bush (whilst he was actually prodding me on the examning table!). Very funny.

I then saw doctors in New Zealand and Australia which was easy and painless.

Since arriving in Asia I have already had to visit a doctor when I damaged my ear diving! Never had any language problems though. All very easy.

I am actually contemplating making it my life challenge to visit a doctor in every country in the world that begins with the letter B. I can tick off Bolivia and Bahrain.

Belgium, Belarus, Belize, Borneo, Botswana etc.......here I come..... Reply to this

14 years ago, November 27th 2006 No: 15 Msg: #8802  
I was on a 24 hour train ride in China and at the 12 hour mark decided to partake of the food in the buffet car. The only thing available was fish and rice which tasted "strange" but what other choice did I have? I washed it all down with a bottle of Chinese muscatel that had a bouquet redolent of model-airplane glue. At about midnight that night, as I lay on my soft sleeper bunk, I was suddenly awash with sweat and felt violently ill. I made way up the hallway to the squatter toilet and as I dropped pants and crouched down, I just knew this was going to be a the mother of all intestinal expulsions. There is no nice way to put this - watery poison exploded from my backside while I vomited simultaneously between my crouching knees. Afterwards, I tidied myself up and shakily made my way back to my bunk. There I fell into a fevered sleep.

I awoke at 1.00am, felt like I was dying and made my way back to the squatter again. Once there I suffered a repeat performance. This happened every hour on the hour until 8.00am. By 4.00am I had used up all my toilet paper and - I'm not proud of this - I started stealing courtesy cotton handtowels from the hallway. I would use these and then throw them out the window.

At our arrival in Chengdu I climbed down from the train like a 90 year old man and children ran screaming at the sight of my stop-sign eyes. I had vomited so frequently and violently that I had broken all the blood vessels in my eyes.

There wasn't an English speaking doctor in Chengdu (this was a while ago) so I visited a Chinese herbalist who gave me two tablets the size and shape of bull's testicles (which, for all I know, they may have been). I was told to chew these slowly. Over the next 4 days I lived on flat lemonade and boiled rice and hardly left my bed. I lost a lot of weight and to this day have refused all train food everywhere. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 1st 2006 No: 16 Msg: #8871  
I had to see a doctor in Phuket, Thailand. Overall I was pretty pleased. I fell out of a tree when I was climbing barefoot. I admit that I may have been a little intoxicated at the time. Anyways, I gashed my foot pretty badly and after a couple of days it still had not stopped bleeding. This thai girl staying at the same hotel as me kept telling me I needed to go to the hospital so I finally let her take me.

The wait at the hospital was about two minutes. I went in to see the doctor, he cleaned all of the stuff out of my foot and bandaged it up. The place was pretty clean and I was happy with the level of service. It cost almost a hundred dollars U.S. Which is not bad considering if I had insurance and had to go to the hospital in the U.S. it would cost at least that much. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 8th 2006 No: 17 Msg: #9038  
Please refer to my blog "Thrupenny bits on Paradise Island!" Reply to this

14 years ago, December 14th 2006 No: 18 Msg: #9178  
I was in SE Asia for a few months earlier this year and was quite pleased that I never had any tummy troubles - despite risking a few highly suspect culinary adventures. I did get a bladder infection 3 days into the trip though and was in Bangkok at the time, having not set off yet.

I was super impressed with hospital and staff. I had the Thai woman at my hostel who spoke good english to write a short note of my symptoms in thai, which definitely helped and reduced the need for charades at the front counter (they did not speak english). I had only a short wait, the doctor spoke english and seemed to know what he was on about, gave me some antibiotics and charged around 30 or 40 dollars.

A couple of weeks later I wasn't sure if it had cleared up completely and went to see a doc again, he saw me for five minutes, told me I'd be fine and didn't even charge me. I was fine and I never needed a doctor anywhere else, luckily. Reply to this

14 years ago, December 31st 2006 No: 19 Msg: #9537  
I did something pretty stupid that made me sick once. I was in Moldova and noticed that the locals would take the pit from an apricot, crack it open and eat the seed inside. Looked like a good idea (tasted good!) until I was violently ill the next day. Turns out that the seeds have some sort of mild poison in them. Reply to this

14 years ago, January 7th 2007 No: 20 Msg: #9708  
I got seriously poisoned by local food d in Port Harcourt and than in Lagos (Nigeria). The second time I had a huge fever (42C) and almost had to be evacuated to South Africa because the antibiotics were not working. Communication was a problem because the only doctor that I found was a gynecologist from Greece that was so sure about me having malaria that she made m take the Fansidar Pills regardless the pain in my stomach. But the company paid for everything, including the $ 100 dollars antibiotics from India and the $ 80 dollars Fansidar. But this time I learned the lesson and stopped eating “jelly of rice”, samossa and fish soup! Reply to this

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