Advice for the Extranjero in Ecuador: Health Care

So lets say you’re something like me when it comes to taking care of yourself. I have been to a doctor in the last year for the following reasons:

  • A 2nd degree burn on my leg
  • An infected cut on the bottom of my foot
  • A 2-month long bout of “traveler’s sickness”
  • A broken chunk of seashell in my foot
  • Sliced hand from washing dishes
  • Testing for malaria, dengue, and parasites to determine why I get a chills, fevers, and shakes every 3 months
  • A broken tooth

I’ve also taken many friends and clients from work to the hospital, usually all food poisoning related, a couple of surfing accidents and bad partying decisions. My accident-prone personality, along with the weak-stomached, extreme sport loving, partying friends that I keep, and the fact that I’m in charge of the medical volunteering program at the school where I work, all have made me a veritable expert on how to get health care here on the coast. Wisdom that I shall now impart to you so when you inevitably make your own bad Montañita decisions, you will know what to do in the aftermath. Continue reading

Injuries

I am dancing to Nirvana with my hands full of soap suds. A deal has been brokered. I will wash the weeks worth of dishes piled up in the sink and Chelfa will cook dinner. It works for me, he’s a better cook anyway. The smell of chicken simmering in thick vegetable sauce fills up the house as I bang my head to the music, up to my elbows in the nastiness. “As an old memoriiiiiiiiia, memoriiiiiiiiiiiiiia, memoriiiiiiiiiiiiiia.” I swing my hair around in circles.

Chefla is cracking up. “Qué significa esta canción?” he asks me. “What does this song mean?”

I laugh. “It’s Nirvana. I never know what the hell they are talking about.”

I make it to the bottom of the sink. All that’s left is silverware and glasses that have been sitting under a pile of pots and plates for a week. I pick up a glass and slip my hand into it to get to the bottom. Suddenly the glass breaks with my hand inside, and the broken edge neatly slices out nice chunk of my pinky. I yelp and launch into a string of curse words and expletives in two different languages. Chefla, surprised, yelps too “¡Chucha! ¡¿Qué pasó Abril?!” I wave my bloody hand as a response. After examining it for a moment, he tells me that he needs to stop the bleeding and to wait a moment. I’m too distracted to notice what he has in his hand when he returns. Before I can stop him, he has squeezed half of a lime directly into my flap of flesh and mashed it in with his thumb. A new and more colorful string of expletives are thrown in his direction. Once the searing pain from the lime juice passes, I examine my injures and decide I should go to the hospital to see if I need stitches.

Since dinner is on the stove and I’m still pissed about the surprise lime juice attack, I tell Chelfa to finish dinner while I go to the hospital by myself. Like everything in town, it’s a five Continue reading