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Sunday, August 05, 2012

Colombian Healthcare

Well dear readers I have some unfortunate news. I am sick. I thought it was just the flu, which in Colombia is called La Gripa. It can be pretty bad especially the first time getting it if you are a foreigner. My beautiful girlfriend had la gripa so I had the luxury of blaming her :P but no longer. Because after over a week of trying every OTC (over the counter) medicine known to man I was getting no better! I had fever, chills, night sweats,pain all over my body,headaches and a terrible sore throat and pain in my ears. Oh ya also lots of nasty congestion. Pretty much the only thing I didn't have was overactive bowel movements or throwing up,thank God.

My wonderful girlfriend went with me to the local hospital and after seeing 1 nurse and 4 different doctors (apparently my gringo throat was special) I was diagnosed with tonsillitis! or in Spanish, Amigdalitis since it was not the flu I no longer could blame my girlfriend :P. This whole process took five hours. Luckily my girlfriend came with me though. She was a great translator. My Spanish at this point is pretty decent but I still had some trouble understanding some of those doctors. It is amusing because the doctors spoke no English and nor does my girlfriend. So the "translating" was not in English at all but for some odd reason I just understand my girlfriend's Spanish better than any other person's. 

The pain in the butt about Colombian health care is "one stop shopping" does not exist. First we had to wait to see the nurse. (They went in numerical order) then after she examined me I had to be wait to be examined by the doctor. Well this doctor was unsure of her diagnosis so she asked for 3 different opinions lol. Only one of these doctors was authorized to write me a prescription for all the medicine they were to give me. Of course we had to wait for this also. Finally we had to wait to pay but not only did we have to wait to pay, we also had to wait to get our receipt at one window, go wait to get it signed by someone special then go wait at another window to pay . This whole frustrating process took five hours. It would be so nice if one doctor could see you,write the prescription and then you go pay and leave. 

According to the doctors my tonsillitis is bad but I should be better in one week (I hope) the silver lining to this cloud was that my hospital visit and medicines were cheap. Really cheap. We also had to deal with an insane taxi driver who drove like a race car driver and then on top of that, ripped me off! In the local buses it is amusing,interesting and frustrating because Colombians REFUSE to move over if there is an empty seat so you are forced to crawl over them. I am used to it now but I still find it odd. Even more odd is their phobia about seating directly in a newly vacated seat. I guess they don't like hot seats because they will literally hover over the now empty seat in a crouched position for like five minutes before they finally sit down! It is so frustrating to see a perfectly good seat being unused like that. I on the other hand sit down right away haha.

There is two other bit of good news, I missed only one day of work luckily. (if I don't work I don't get paid) I am slowly feeling better but still not great.  Hopefully all these meds will help (even if one of them makes me really sleepy!) Wish me luck. I hate being sick. Luckily after our horrible day spent at the hospital the girlfriend and I got to have a really nice date night. A great dinner and just relaxing with each other. Sorry I don't have any good news to share right now or any amusing pictures. Next time. Yall take care,Tyler

P.S. side note:  Technology is an amazing thing even here in Colombia. My doctor's timed my pulse with their I phones and used their phones as a flashlight to look into my mouth haha. Amazing huh? Even ten years ago this would not have been possible. Old school is going out the window it seems....


  1. Sounds frustrating! I live in Cartagena and have checked around a bit about health insurance here. You can get a plan that lets you go directly to a specialist, without first going to the generalist. It also offers surgery in other countries, if you wish, and covers you when you are outside of Colombia. It costs about 100 bucks a month.

    1. I do have travel insurance which covers me world wide but, having Colombian EPS sure would be nice! My girlfriend is checking into this for me now actually. (I am hoping to get on her plan, she is Colombian) thanks alot!

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  3. Are you sure it's not Dengue Fever? It mosquito borne ans is more common in the Caribbean and central America. I had in in 2009 in Florida and I was only one of 4 cases in the entire state. I went to 2 doctor's before I was diagnosed, and that was after a trip to the ER and a spinal tap. Hope you are recovered now.

  4. I got on some antibiotics when they told me it was tonsillitis, and they (seem?) to have worked... lets hope so anyway, I am feeling better now but still not 100%. I think in a week or so I should be fine. Thanks!