Murphy’s Law being what it is, this was the week — when Andy is at language school in Nicaragua, and our car is … somewhere? somewhere getting legal … ? — that I got sick enough to have to go to the doctor.
I get sick enough to go to the doctor about once every four years, so the prospect of needing medical attention in Costa Rica hadn’t occurred to me. (Tripletts don’t get sick, according to Dad. And when we do, we definitely don’t whine about it.) At first I tried to avoid it by going to the pharmacy. Costa Rican pharmacists are highly trained and all drugs other than narcotics are OTC here, so the pharmacy is a kind of inexpensive triage. But I must not have done a good job explaining my symptoms, because the horse pills they gave me didn’t help and I woke up the next morning feeling worse.
I realized I was only putting off a doctor visit because I didn’t know how it would work, and I wasn’t in the mood to figure it out. That’s a pretty silly excuse when you’ve had hives all over your body and an ocular headache for five days, so I finally put some shoes on and made the 15-minute walk to the clinic.
Linea Vital is an ambulance service and walk-in clinic in Atenas — I showed up at 8 a.m. expecting to wait or be told to come back later, but I was the only patient there and Dr. Barrantes was able to see me right away. Both she and the nurse who took my vitals spoke English. After about a 15-minute consult she decided I probably don’t have dengue fever, and diagnosed me with an allergic reaction (to what I still don’t know, maybe detergent). She told me to avoid tomatoes and pineapple (:cry:), and gave me a prescription for Rupax, an oral antihistamine, after I wouldn’t let her give me a steroid shot.
She also commented that I am very white.
It’s easy to see why medical tourism is such a Thing here: The consult was $50 with no insurance, and the medication was another $5.50. If any of our American friends with lousy insurance need to get anything taken care of, now’s the time to visit — even with the plane ticket you’ll come out ahead, and get a vacation in while you’re at it.
The Rupax didn’t work quickly enough, and the next day I woke up feeling too crummy to work (which is pretty crummy, when you work from home). I took some Benadryl too and slept the day away. Today I woke up groggy but well enough to run a couple errands and get a haircut. Benadryl for the win, again. Seriously. Bless those little pink pills.