A few days after launching the Bibliobus mobile library, Jonathon and I got really sick. Our throats hurt, our muscles sore from shivering as we spent the entire night before shivering. Fortunately, we had been sick several times before since living in Nicaragua–from me getting dengue fever to JB getting the measles–so we were familiar with the protocols of getting better here. On the first day, we went to the pharmacy, told the lady what we were feeling, got lots of water and tried to flush whatever was in us out. By day three of us both getting progressively worse, we knew we had to see a doctor. When something lingers on for longer than 3 days here, it’s important to get it taken care of or find out what it is ASAP. So we decided to head on over to the Esteli Hospital.
He hopped on the local chicken bus down the highway and got dropped off right in front of the large white building. As soon as I walked in, I felt safe. It was a very strange feeling, but for the first time since we had gotten sick I felt a sense of comfort.
It was odd for me because typically, back in the states, the hospital meant there was an emergency. There were doctors that I would go to when I was sick far before the hospital and I would only go there if things were really bad.
Here in Nicaragua, however, the hospital was where you went to get better no matter how sick you were. I had everything here that I would need to get better–a doctor to tell me what was going on with us and then prescribe the correct medicine to get us back to normal. Since we moved here, the hospital was the only place that Jonathon and I had ever gone to and actually gotten better here. A hospital in the third world, what was once one of my greatest fears, had now become my safe place when I felt sick.
We walked into the lobby and asked where to go to speak with a physician. They pointed us in the direction of where to go in the very large hospital and we walked right into the doctor’s office without any wait at all. We sat down with a very nice and young doctor who asked us what our symptoms were and began writing it all down in her notes.
She took our temperature, checked our blood pressure and looked in our mouths. Right away, she knew that we both had throat and chest infections. She prescribed us various pills to take, including antibiotics and told us that we could simply pick them up here in the hospital pharmacy. We shook her hand and thanked her very much for her help. Relief instantly came over me–to this day every time I get sick I fear that I have dengue again, so a throat and chest infection wasn’t bad at all.
We walked over to the pharmacy, handed them our prescription notes and within a minute they handed us our medicine. We asked if we could pay them or at least leave a donation and their response was a rather confused “no”. We had spoken with a doctor and received the medicine we needed for free. As Americans, this was mind blowing.
We were incredibly grateful to live here and have accessibility to this affordable health care because neither of us had a job back home that provided health care insurance. If we had acquired this same infection in the States, it would have been very expensive to go to the doctor and/or get the proper medicine we needed without insurance. We both reflected on how crazy it was to feel truly lucky that we got sick here in Nicaragua rather than back home as we walked out of the building.
We hopped back on that chicken bus back into town and took our medicine right away. We each slept a bit better that night with our minds at ease about our illness. We still couldn’t get out of our heads around how strange it was that our mentality had shifted so much when it came to the idea of getting sick in a third world country.
One of our greatest fears before moving here was not knowing what to do if either of us got ill, but now that fear has been replaced with a sense of comfort. A comfort that everything will be ok and that if something bad does happens, we can afford to take care of it here as two young entrepreneurs without hesitation. With all of the ups and downs in our crazy adventurous life, knowing our health will be taken care of is a very secure and wonderful feeling.