The Luxury of Health

I’m finished. I just can’t handle it anymore, I’ve been hacking, gagging and coughing my way through life for the last six weeks and can officially say that I am fed up.

As most of you know, I live on a townsite next to a paper and pulp mill in the middle of nowhere in the Riau region of Sumatra. The townsite has a clinic but they have limited resources and rarely are on the leading edge of available medicines. One of the toughest parts about getting sick here is not really knowing what you are taking because the names and available prescriptions are quite different from those used in the United States and Europe.

I started my first round of antibiotics in October. I felt marginally better and the infection seemed to fade. Three weeks later though, I found myself back where I started, with the same upper respiratory infection and the same gross green gunk that comes with such infections. The doctor then put me on my second round of antibiotics. Five days later, the coughing hadn’t subsided but my antibiotics were finished. I gave it a week…but seven days later I was still dealing with intense fatigue and coughing.

At the urging of my doctor (who I subsequently went out on a few dates with…I guess that’s what happens when you visit so frequently?) I went to the hospital in the nearest city. There I was prescribed a stronger antibiotic (Avelox) and meds to help with the cough, inflamation and the irritation of my asthma. Finally,a good action plan, yes?

NO!

Saturday afternoon, while riding back to our town, I felt intense nausea (though I thought it was from the bumpy ride) and a burning in my chest between my ribs. I felt a bit dizzy as well. The next morning I took my antibiotics and accompanying drugs again without concern. Within 30 minutes of taking them, I found myself feeling the same as I had felt Saturday afternoon, but much much worse. I felt faint, nearly blacking out each time I tried to stand up and my heart was racing. The burning in my chest was awful. It kind of felt like it does when you swallow a big pill but don’t wash it down with enough water, except instead of going away after a few minutes, the feeling lasted all day and even continued into the following day.

Needless to say, I’m finished. A co-worker suggested I get my meds from the States. Last year an expat from the UK had problems with  meds and so she sent for some from home. I laughed and said I wished it was an option, but of course, I’m not insured in the States and so I have no access to affordable healthcare.

So what am I going to do? Well, for starters, I refuse to take anymore medicine. I’m done. I have never liked taking medicine and have taken more here than I have ever taken in the past. My vacation starts in a few days and so I am going to employ the fresh air, healthy food and no stress model and hope it works. Speaking of stress, that also means that I’m no longer seeing the doctor. Dating someone that you know you will be leaving in 6 months isn’t fair to anyone so I’ve decided it’s better to cut that tie before things get messy! (So lets hope I don’t need to go to the clinic anytime soon…)

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3 thoughts on “The Luxury of Health

  1. Man McKenna, what a nighmare! Have you been working this whole time while you were sick? Agreed, health is a luxury (so is healthcare)! We have not had a lucky autumn. I hope you enjoy Bali, realx and feel bett’a!!

    1. I have tried to miss as little school as possible but I have ended up missing 4 or 5 days. Thanks for the well wishes, I am glad to hear that you are doing better too!

  2. I feel your pain. First 6 weeks working in Indo I was going from one sickness to the next, happens to most expats when they first come here. Your body’s immune system and your habits should adapt soon enough. The best advice I can give you at the moment is to bring a packed lunch to work!

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