The bronchitis that plagued me during our first few weeks in Chile (and proved tough to deal with during the Salkantay trek in Peru) is back, with a vengeance. Having gone to the hospital in Punta Arenas, gotten healthier … and then traipsed back in Buenos Aires, I figured the least I could do was put together a handy comparison post between a hospital in Argentina versus a hospital in Chile. You know, team research? I’m trying trying to be helpful here ;)
Getting sick in South America
Kilimanjaro is less than a month away, and I’m not sure how my lungs will handle being anywhere near 19,000 feet. I will go to a lung specialist in Cape Town, and hope that I get the green light to try and summit, but actually making it to the top is looking less and less likely. Very frustrating.
Quality of Facilities and X-rays
Chile: Sparkling new building with separate radiology wing, up-to-date equipment, new floors so clean that two people slipped on them while I waited to see the doctor. X-ray included a lead protective apron.
Argentina: Sparkling exterior hid crumbling walls, fifthly floors, creaky, terrifyingly loud equipment and – ew – shared hospital gowns for the x-ray room. No protective anything for the x-ray, just “stand here” and … we’re done!
Chile: Nurses barked orders to small children, making them cry, there were two prepubescent, leering radiologists, the doctor laughed at me when I said I was from Canada and then gave me such a large dose of the bronchio-inhibitor that I was shaking uncontrollably at the breakfast table, terrifying the Christian and Torsten.
Argentina: Friendliest, smiliest doctor ever, cherubic radiology resident. Doctor spent 20 minutes discussing my lungs with me.
Chile: Cash, upfront. No cash, no x-rays.
Argentina: Free. Entirely, absolutely free – including both x-rays. Apparently all care in public hospitals in Argentina is free, which explains the state of the hospitals!
Overall winner: I’d have to say the hospital in Argentina. And that Argentine hospital visit is how I spent my last night in South America, of all places.
Jess and I are now in Cape Town, South Africa and it’s hard to believe we are already on our second big leg of this journey. We managed to fit in 5 countries (one of which wasn’t even on our itinerary), an amazing array of wildlife, water and land-based adventure and a lot of fun into our short 2.5 mos in South America – and we were fortunate enough to have met some fantastic people along the way.
Having spent almost a year in South America in 2002, I was very sad to leave a continent I love so much, but the sheer newness of Africa is an enticing place to land. With so much packed into our first part of this journey, I’m excited to see where the next months take us.
I will say it has been profoundly frustrating after saving up for years and excitedly leaving on this trip that a good part of it — despite the adventures — has been spent with the tremendous pain of being so sick. I really wish that I had been healthier. I think the lesson here is that it was important for me to have taken the time to rest before I set out. I was in such a rush to quit my job and take off, instead of doing so slowly and letting my body rest after years of corporate law work.
A note to the wise: if you’re going to quit your job and start travelling, think about giving yourself a buffer time-wise in the process!
Thanks to all for the many “get better soon”s!