There's nothing worse than being sick in a foreign country, especially when there's a language barrier. You don't know how to get to a doctor, or what the medical and insurance process will be.
And if you find a hospital, you don't know if you'll be able to properly communicate your ailments to receive proper medical attention.
So when I started running a fever yesterday afternoon, I hoped my body would fight off whatever illness was brewing and I wouldn't need to seek medical attention.
I've known for two weeks something was wrong with me. And I hoped it wasn't anything serious. As long as I was able to get through the day, and my Rotary responsibilities, I wasn't going to make a big deal about it.
But that was until last night. I knew I needed a doctor.
Since arriving in Kerela, I've been experiencing swollen ankles, feet and calves. My feet have swollen in the past when traveling, but it's never painful, and it never continues for more than a few hours.
I knew it wasn't normal for my limbs to be swollen for 14 days.
Yesterday afternoon, I started running a low-grade fever, 101 degrees. I took some fever-reducing meds and finished out the day. The fever went down, but I was still feeling terrible. A few hours later, another fever started and my whole body started shaking with chills.
Two of my teammates insisted I try to see a doctor, and they alerted my housefather that I was ill. Within the hour, a doctor was at my bedside investigating my condition.
He recommended I go to the emergency room.
At 11 p.m., I loaded into the car with two teammates, my housefather and the doctor, and drove in the night to the nearest hospital. I was moved to a room with about eight beds, separated by dingy curtains. I laid down on a stained, green cot and thin matching pillow that showed its age and wear.
If I wasn't in so much pain, I probably wouldn't have laid down.
My fever had risen to 103 degrees, and the nurse gave me an injection to reduce my temperature.
I was told doctors wanted to admit me for more tests, but I didn't want to stay in the hospital. I went home and slept the fever off.
The great thing about India is the doctors will often make house visits, or allow you to come to their homes after hours. So today, a man from the lab came over to the house and took a blood and urine sample.
I was diagnosed with a kidney infection, and a few hours later I was delivered some prescription meds and ordered to take rest for 24 hours. Everyone here says, "take rest."
I slept and sweat for about 11 hours and I'm feeling much better. I can finally see my ankles again.
My swollen feet.
I'm so impressed with the immediacy of medical care in India. There is no red tape, insurance battles, or a sense that my medical expenses will be dreadfully high. It's just good, efficient healthcare, provided for one and all.
I'm looking forward to getting back on my regularly-sized feet.
Until tomorrow, Victoria.
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