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Sunday, July 17, 2011

A Medical Experience

Many of my friends have traveled to foreign places and ended up getting Montezuma's Revenge.  I have never had that problem.  Even coming to Cuenca, I drank water out of the tap with no problems...tho, Cuenca is known for it's high-quality, safe water.  However, over a week ago I was in Quito for a few days.  Friday evening a friend and I went out to dinner and we ate the exact same thing, except I had wine, he didn't.  By morning, I was running to the bathroom and must've done so 20 more times that day.  I felt awful but was happy I was flying home that evening.  Sunday, I felt fine, but everything was still passing through me as if it was the express lane, no traffic, straight shot, start-to-finish in less than 5 seconds.  Monday, felt cruddy again, and still the runs.  Tuesday, the frequency diminished but still the problem persisted.  I consulted my best friend Brian who is experienced in this sort of thing, wondering how long before it self-corrects?  It would take meds.   So, Wednesday, I went to see a doctor for the first time....a doctor that was on my spreadsheet of references where I keep a list of things others recommend based on their own experience.

The hospital was nearby.  I went up to the 5th floor where Dr Parra's office is located.  There was ONE receptionist for the floor, who collected the $25 fee and gave me a number (like those pull tabs when you're waiting in line).  No appointments, just first come/first served.  I sat outside the doctor's office with a few others.  When the doctor was finished with a patient, he simply opened his door, let them out, and invited the next person in. 

When it was my turn, I walked into a large office space that was divided in two by a privacy wall.  On one side was a typical office desk, the other side the examination table and medical equipment/supplies.  We introduced ourselves (he is bilingual), sat down, and he proceeded to ask me a series of question (name, phone, occupation, etc) as he filled out what looked like a file card, and of course, what my problem was.  Over to the exam table to take my temp (fine), BP (fine), listen to heart/lungs (fine), and a series of more questions, and weighed me.  Poked around...ouch...yep, inflamed large intestine. 

I spent about 45 minutes with him and walked out with 3 prescriptions, instructions, and his personal cell phone # which he asked me to call him the next day and advise him how I was doing.

Off to the pharmacy and got the prescriptions filled for $21.00 plus change. 

Thursday, I felt better and the frequency of the runs had gone down significantly.  I was not to eat any solids for 24-30 hours after seeing the doctor.   I ate some food Thursday evening.  Friday, the runs had come back.  I called the doctor again (he answers his own phone) and he theorized my body wasn't ready for solid food yet, to go back to liquids-only again and call him at 7pm.   I did, the runs stopped, and I called him at 7pm (this is now the 3rd call).   He was pleased.   I was told to stay on liquids-only until Saturday afternoon at which time I could have soup (oh, yea....big thrill).   Then, I could steadily increase.  Then, please, call him on Monday and report in.  Well, that did the trick...no more episodes and I'm back to eating normally....EIGHT DAYS after it all began.

What was the source of the problem in the first place?  Don't know.  I drank tap water at David's house Friday afternoon.  Maybe that was it.  The doctor asked me several times if I had eaten seafood.  I said 'no'.  But, it dawned on me later that one of the pizzas we ate had salmon on it.  Like I said, David ate it, too.  So, who knows.

Doctor's visit 45 minutes, 4 personal phone calls, 3 medications, 1 receptionist, no nurses, no parking costs, not an existing patient, no medical coverage.....cost.....$46.

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About Me

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Cuenca, Azuay, Ecuador
This is all about my transition from an American lifestyle and culture to my newest adventure, life in Cuenca and greater Ecuador. I'll be recapping some of my day-to-day experiences (and mishaps) to highlight what it's like to live here.

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