Adventures in healthcare

Today was interesting!

Remember that thing on my hand? It got worse.

Then, last night, I developed a gross rash all over my chest, neck, and face that looked like a collection of bug bites/zits.  My whole face and chest itched like crazy.  And then I woke up this morning with my bottom lip swollen up. Not cute.

So, as is my custom, I took a trip to the hospital to see what was going on.  Honestly, I don’t really count a country as truly lived in if I haven’t gone to the hospital at least once.  In every other country in which I’ve spent significant time (except Cuba, dang it!), I’ve gone to the hospital.  It’s just what I do.  It’s my thing.

A brief reminiscence: in Brazil, I went to the hospital multiple times for multiple issues (herniated disc, blood-work); in Argentina, I visited an eye hospital; in Chile, I had to see a dermatologist because an ill-advised navel piercing had become infected and then, a few months later, just to make sure I really had a feel for the Chilean healthcare system, I had to go to the emergency room for rabies shots after being bitten by a stray dog; in Mexico, as a child on vacation with my family, I got pneumonia, and then, when I returned in college, I had recently sliced off a large portion of my finger so had to go to the doctor to get my bandages changed and get antibiotics to prevent infection.  There are probably other incidents I’m forgetting/blocking out, but let’s just say I’m no stranger to developing world emergency waiting rooms.

Today, given the fact that at least one part of my face was swollen (never a good thing), I decided to play it safe and go to the Morningside Clinic in Joburg to see what was ailing me.  And, it turns out, they had no idea.  The nurse and the doctor thought the rash looked like chicken pox, except I’ve already had chicken pox, and I don’t have a fever or other signs of illness (except for a small sore throat this morning). They took bloodwork and ruled out any viral infections. Everything came back completely normal. Hooray?

I took this sneaky sideways picture at the hospital, to prove I was there.

So, after four hours, I was discharged with a prescription for an anti-itch/anti-boil-carbuncle-and-other-disgusting-skin-ailments cream, and turned away.  So now I’m sitting here with this stuff slathered all over my face, debating how long I need to leave it on before I can go to the gym.  On the other hand, I also sort of don’t want to leave the house because I look like Quasimodo’s acne-ridden female cousin. I took a photo of myself to post here but it was too shocking, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations.

So, I’m relieved that I don’t have any sort of pox (chicken, guinea-fowl, or otherwise) because we’re going to Cape Town tomorrow to stay with a family with small children, and I wouldn’t want to have to cancel our trip.  I guess I can deal with just looking gross, although I am worried that I might scare the kids.

Anyway, the good thing about this experience was that I was pleasantly surprised by how easy things are here, healthcare-wise.  Our insurance covered most of the hospital visit and all of the medicine.  There weren’t complicated forms to fill out.  Things were pretty straightforward.  Way to go, South Africa.

Okay, back to my bell-tower.  Happy almost Thanksgiving, everyone.

Leave a Reply