"When you realize how perfect everything is you will tilt your head back and laugh at the sky"
-Guatama Siddharta

Over and under and up and down...sunshine and thunder...a laugh and a frown!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Healthcare in a (semi) foreign country

5/5/11

Let's start off on a festive note, Happy Cinco de Mayo. Unfortunately I was not celebrating in a joyous fashion, you know the kind they advertise on the radio with margaritas, music, and other such happiness.

For the past 2 weeks I have been pretty sick here in Guam. Knowing that my insurance 1. sucks and 2. certainly wouldn't cover something that isn't in "the lower 48" I resisted and resisted, convincing myself that I was getting better, and I honestly thought I was. I cycled through an array of symptoms, sore throat, congestion, no more congestion but my glands swelled up looking like I had golf balls in my throat, back to congestion and a seeming upper respiratory infection, to finally a few days ago when all congestion was slowly going away, all swelling was going down, and I FINALLY thought I was in the clear.

Enter Wednesday (that bitch of a day that I don't like even in full health). During the work day I started to get some pain in my right ear, and some hearing loss that appeared to be because of some ear congestion, it continued and increased throughout the day. By 2am Thursday (today) I was hearing what sounded like congestion breaking up in my ear followed by "drainage" (I'll spare you the details but I assure you it's not pretty). To start the drainage was pretty minimal. By morning my ear was still, draining, and the substance was mostly blood. Let me tell you about the level of panic you hit when you have blood coming out of your ear dripping down your face. OK, enough details I know.

I went to work and the pain was excruciating. I probably shouldn't have operated a vehicle, I could barely function (and this was doped up on my highest allowed dosage of OTC pain meds). I had to keep a cotton ball in my ear to absorb the "drainage" and to prevent blood from running down my face from my ear.

Yes, this was definitely enough to convince me to go to the medical clinic.

Now, when you are living on an island (a very small one at that) your options are pretty freaking limited. Something I've seen all over the world in my various travels has been the Seventh Day Adventist Clinics (SDA). This was my destination today and I must say, I have no idea what SDA's are (aside from being religious) but if they could cure me of my agony they might have made me a believer. Might.

Price wise it was VERY reasonable. I probably would have maxed out my credit card to stop the ear bleeding and severe pain.

Here is what I learned. I have a ruptured eardrum. She said it was so bad that she couldn't even see my eardrum when she looked in my ear with that ear device that they use (also because of the excessive amount of "drainage").

She told me that the rupture was caused by a very bad infection (from being sick), but that it is very rare to get a rupture like that (usually they are caused from flying or scuba diving when people can't equalize their ears)

So, she gave me a prescription for some strong antibiotics and told me to definitely take Motrin whenever I had pain (can I get an IV drip please)

So for the same day/walk in appointment, the meds, and my relief it cost $105 (since of course they didn't take my lousy insurance)

Not bad at all. I hope my eardrum gets itself together, starts repairing, and by all means stops draining. Going to work with a cotton ball in your ear (that occasionally becomes saturated in blood) is not the most awesome thing I've done all week. Or maybe it is...

Here is a generic pic of a ruptured eardrum

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