Another Hospital Trip in Nicaragua

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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.

LOOTB Going to the Hospital in Esteli, Nicaragua

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15 responses to “Another Hospital Trip in Nicaragua

  1. Yikes. Dengue fever is one of my 3rd world travel fears. Wondering how it was for you. How common is it in Nicaragua? Etc. etc etc. Thanks for your sharing!

  2. Hi, This is good information! Whenever in another country we wonder how a doctor visit will go. I broke my foot in Vietnam and was blown away by the fantastic care at the SOS clinic. Hope you are both on the road to recovery!

  3. As a nurse and medic who has both treated numerous illnesses in a variety of countries, and been unlucky enough to get Dengue myself in India, my sympathies go out to you both!

    I’m glad that your experience was a positive one! It’s humbling sometimes to find such excellent systems in places that we as ‘Western’ first world citizens would call third world.

  4. “Fortunately, we had been sick several times before”
    My favorite line – define irony!
    I know how ya feel – never a bill in Korea after being hit by a semi – why is the grand ole USA so behind?

  5. Glad you’re both feeling better! I had a doctor come to me in Montevideo for something silly – cotton from a swab was stuck in my ear for a while. The doctor showed up quickly and refused any money. Like you said, the care provided in lesser-developed places is amazing.

  6. Not so third world…we’ve got the good ol’ NHS in the UK and in India, you have to pay, or have medical insurance. There are government hospitals for the very poor, but noone seems to trust them here. You sound like you’re in a place where they’ve got the balance right…free treatment but good quality of care. Thanks for sharing, hope you feel better soon.x

  7. Wow, this is great news! I want to travel through a few third world countries in South America and have always wondered what would happen if I got sick. Thanks for posting this, it def eases my mind, too.

    Now, is the free health care accessible to anyone or only people living in that country (like you guys with a visa?)? I live in the States without health care and become regularly pissed off by the horrendous prices of a visit to the general practitioner… :-(

  8. Yikes I was gonna say dengue at first cause I also had it before there…whats crazy is I was telling my husband the other day how lucky they actually have medical care even if you have to wait hours for free…like y ou said had I got sick here in usa id be out of luck.

  9. Pingback: Friday Myday | For The Love Of . . .·

  10. Glad you’re feeling better! I read this post awhile ago and had a few thoughts I wanted to share, but didn’t. It’s been haunting me, so here goes…Your experience at the health center went well and cost little and this is truly, truly a blessing. You are/were also very lucky. I’ve been in a number of places, most recently Haiti, where you might be lucky enough to find good, basic care. The problems come when disaster strikes…someone is in an accident or seriously ill and has to be evacuated to another place with more sophisticated care. It happens and I’ve been on the phone trying to negotiate payments via credit cards/western union/cash transfers while patients are in critical condition, waiting for a chopper or an evac plane. Please consider taking out an evac policy. They don’t cost much, they offer peace of mind and your family won’t bankrupt themselves trying to get you home. In our house, you get an evac insurance policy for Christmas/birthdays, etc. :) I don’t want to be a downer, but I want you to do everything possible to continue your journeys for as long as possible. This is all said with love and blessings to you both :)

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