Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Another Hospital...and no this is not a Caribbean Hospital Tour

 Trinidad, West Indies, Caribbean---"YOU don't have a yellow fever shot?" the other sailors around the table glared at me.

"Um...I'm not sure. I have my heps, but I'll have to look, " I replied feeling like the last to know.

"But you've been to Africa, no one questioned you?" they pushed.

"And Cape Verde Islands," I replied...and then I got the head shake. The slow, feeling sorry for you, glad they are not you HEAD SHAKE.

And I felt a sweep of anxiety go through me like touching an electric fence on the farm in Kansas.

There was nothing I could do, it was late and I would deal with it in the morning, I told myself as I went to bed last night.

 And then there was the dream. Not knowing what Yellow Fever is, I dreamt that I was dieing of it. I awoke with the recent memory of having food poisoning only a few weeks ago in Bequia and jumped out of bed, dug out my medical file, retrieved my International Certificate of Vaccination card and searched for the words...they were not there. In prepping for other international travel, I had never had this shot. No one told me and I didn't know to ask.

So, I went to the front desk and talked to them. I got that same look. Then I requested one name: Jesse James. The desk clerk made a few phone calls and it was arranged.

Jesse James of Trinidad is almost famous. His company of drivers work with the American Embassy and many yachties for all sorts of needs. The director of OceansWatch North America knew him and had told me I needed to meet him. Just yesterday I had walked to his office to say hi but missed him. Today for another reason I was on the the phone with him and soon one of his drivers appeared. He was worth it. Even though they speak English here, I find it hard to understand them often. The driver literally walked me everywhere except the examining room. And yes, this time I WAS dressed appropriately (see blog "Doctor, Doctor" on 12/30/10) .

Having been at sea for almost 10 months, it also worked to my advantage as I had a couple prescriptions that only a doctor could renew as well as leaving my other boat who had prescription antibiotics for all the "just in case you are at sea..." and I needed my own.

This time the hospital was a huge upgrade to the Bequia experience. It was a Seventh Day Adventist Hospital but still a far cry from American standards. As I waited for the doctor, I had to notice the picture on the wall was taped together with medical tape. An old sink stood in the corner with rusty pipes and one table of supplies.

The Yellow Fever shot itself was no big deal. And the entire visit with about 20 minutes of the Doctor's time was $42 US.   A walk-in shot and consult with 3 prescriptions!   That's affordable medicine. But that's it for me. No more hospitals.

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