Some things are the same no matter where I go. For me, stomach virus = IV fluids. This is a running joke among friends from home. They like to remark that for most folks, a stomach virus means a bit of bucket-hugging and maybe some phenergan, followed by jello and crackers. For me, it means a costly trip to the emergency room to be rehydrated. It seems that about 6 hours after I first get sick, my body has had enough, my blood pressure drops, my sugar level plummets, and my hands and feet tingle or go numb. No different here.
Shortly after posting my last blog entry, I borrowed the blood pressure cuff from the children's home. Since camp happened to be going on, there was a nurse on the premises. He was fetched, and he promptly sent me to the hospital after finding my BP was 70/30. I tried to tell him it runs low--ok, not usually THAT low, but I didn't want anyone to panic here. However, he was politely adamant that I needed to be checked out, at least.
Ken (bless his heart...still weak himself) drove me, the house-mom Maria, and her young son Kevin, the fifteen minutes or so to the nearest hospital. I was going over the monthly budget all the way there, remembering how my past ER visits for the same type of thing have been SEVERAL hundred dollars per trip. You know how it goes. It's basically $250 to walk into the emergency room in the US. My head was spinning from feeling faint already, and from trying to figure out how much this would affect our budget.
The hospital here resembles the public health department at home--very simple but quite adequate. I was ushered right back after Maria showed them my passport and told them what was going on. Thank you, Lord, that Maria could go with us. The way the room was spinning for me, there was no way I felt up to translating all sorts of medical words I'd never heard before. I did have the presence of mind to regret not bringing the camera, so I could share more of the experience with y'all. (I guess I'm officially a blog-addict with that admission.)
Everything I'm going to describe took place in the same little room. The nurse took my blood pressure, checked my temperature, and sat me down in front of the doctor. He asked for my history, and then sent Maria across the road to the local CVS (well, not exactly, but a pharmacy) to buy a blood-sugar test. As it turns out, the consultation and care are completely FREE, but you have to buy everything you'll need for the treatment. I've learned that if you are admitted, you get a bed. Bring your own sheets and your own food, and you'll be going after your own medicines.
Back to the story. After the finger prick, Maria was sent again to the pharmacy with a long list. I was lost at this point, not sure what she'd be coming back with, and what it all meant to me. She came in a with a big bag full of goodies, and I understood right away. My old friend, the IV pole.
The staff was very competent, the supplies were clean and new, and everything (the fluids, the tubing, several injection needles, four or five IV medicines, the sugar test, and a bag of medicines to take home) came to around $30. I felt dizzy when we first got there, but when I realized that was my total bill, I really did almost FAINT! Mind you, I shared that tiny room with an elderly lady having the same problem as me (except her blood pressure was better), a small screaming boy fighting the stitches being put in his chin, and about 30 trillion tiny red ants, but my care was good and I came home hydrated. What more could I ask for?