Going to the Doctor in Peru

Carrie Rheingans

Carrie Rheingans

It was bound to happen – I got sick in Peru. After four days in which I couldn’t be far from a bathroom, I went to the clinic down the street to see what the heck I had. They sent me to the emergency room because there was a long line for the general doctor, which freaked me out at first because I wasn’t really listening and all I heard was ’emergency’. I went with the mother of the family I’m staying with, so I asked her to clarify as we were walking down the stairs to the ER. The health insurance that was mandatory for me to purchase for the FELA trip will end up covering all the expenses, but I have to pay for everything first and get reimbursed. Fortunately it wasn’t very expensive – I don’t know what I would have done if I needed an appendectomy or something!

The health clinic was pretty new-looking and was way bigger than I was expecting. One thing I noticed was that there doesn’t seem to be such a focus on confidentiality here as my experiences in the US. For example, the mother of the family went into the examining room with me and heard me answer all the questions. I didn’t mind in this specific case, but there are some cases I could imagine a young person would NOT want their mother in the examining room with them! Also, I heard some doctors talking about other patients, just to get advice. It really creeped me out. When I was in the examining room, I was looking out the windows and noticed that one didn’t close all the way and had a gap. This was at about ground-level, which means that all the lovely exhaust that coats Lima was getting in. I wondered to myself how many people leave feeling sicker, and realized that this wasn’t as bad as many healthcare locations around the globe.

The verdict was just that I had traveler’s diarrhea (was bound to happen, especially since I attempt to be a vegetarian) and the doctor perscribed a familiar, bright pink, viscous liquid to settle my stomach and told me to take ciprofloxocin for four days. I had been prescribed this by the UM university health service during my travel appointment before I left the States, so I had it on hand already and had actually started my first day’s worth of doses.

What stories do you have of getting sick while traveling? Any advice for other travelers? Leave it in the comments please!

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