Azure and I have had plenty of health care encounters abroad, so I thought I’d tell some of the fun stories about how we get treated when we leave our own country.
Chipped tooth, France 2001
I chipped my tooth biting into a sandwich (yep) and called a dentist recommended by a friend. His office was in his apartment. He had no receptionist, no assistants, just a chair and his tools in a room adjacent to the kitchen. I hadn’t asked how much it would cost, so as he worked on me I worried that I’d get ripped off.
When he finished, about 30 minutes later, he asked for “50 francs and a pint of Guinness.” That calculates to about seven dollars and a pint of Guinness. A few weeks later he came into the bar and I gave him his drink as the second half of my payment.
General badness of the body area, India 2004
For $2 the local doctor saw me right away and, after consulting, told me I should go to the private hospital. I went to the hospital and checked in with dehydration & a fever. They were going to inject me with a fever reducer, but then noticed that I was sweating. They asked if I’d taken paracetamol, and I had. That’s what they had in the syringe.
To treat the dehydration they were going to put me on an IV and rehydrate me right into the arm, but not wanting to be injected in India, I asked if there was another option. They said I could get some electrolyte packets and mix with water (Gatorade, essentially). They didn’t ask me to pay since they ended up not treating me (in the US the price of a consultation like this is enough to dissuade someone from seeking treatment).
Here in the US, when we go to the doctor we want SOME kind of evidence that we’re being heard & treated, so they’ll prescribe us some pills. Apparently in India their preferred consolation is an injection – that’s why they were going to give me two injections of treatments I could take orally.
Ear infection, France 2005
I waited in the doctor’s office in Chateau Neuf de Pape for about 2 hours before finally being seen as a drop-in. The doctor spoke to me in English even though I tried to speak in French – he wanted to make me more comfortable. He prescribed me a $10 course of antibiotics and charged me $10 for the visit. Cured like pork.
Broken teeth, Thailand 2006
It’s a crazy story, but the long & short of it is that I chipped a tooth (the picture above) and the dentist saw me the same day. I had the tooth fixed and three cavities filled, then a teeth cleaning. It was around $30. The side-note to this story is that, once again, I didn’t want to get an injection, so I underwent all this tooth fixing without any Novocain, only Azure’s hand to squeeze.
Fake rabies, Thailand 2006
Azure thought she might have rabies because a friendly dog licked her on the elbow, so we went to this stunningly beautiful hospital in Bangkok. It looked like what I imagine a 5-star hotel looks like. After an hour wait (again as drop-ins) we were taken back to a specialist for this type of fake disease. She was a great doctor – understanding and patient. Azure would be ok and we payed $15 for the peace of mind.