I ended up at the hospital with my latest illness. Relax, it was bad but not as bad as it sounds.
I already told you how I got sick last Tuesday night, had a fever and body aches on Wednesday and Thursday, followed by a sore throat on Friday and Saturday, then a crazy mini-episode of pink eye on Sunday.
On Monday, I felt reasonably good. My throat wasn’t as painful as it had been on Friday and Saturday; apparently the pills I got from my colleague were working. But I stopped taking them on Saturday night because that was all the dosage that I had. I made it through Monday fine but was happy to head to bed on Monday night after my last classes were done.
I awoke this past Tuesday morning, 1 week after that first niggling feeling in my throat, to the raging return of the sore throat, and this time my stopped-up ears were along for the ride. The pain in my throat woke me up just before 4 am on Tuesday. I couldn’t sleep, it was so difficult to swallow. I also felt like I had cotton in my ears, which was a really weird feeling because everything sounded really quiet and far away. Eventually, I got up, did some work and Whatsapp’d with my parents, killing time until the pharmacy across the street would open at 9 am. My plan was to get something to help cure me and give it 2 days to work. Then if I didn’t feel much better by Wednesday evening, I’d go to the ER.
Just as I was about to head over to the pharmacy, my colleague offered me some more of the pills that he had given me on Friday evening. I decided to give them another try since they had worked fairly well once they had kicked in after about 36 hours. The girl who lives here also suggested that I have a bottle of Cap Kaki Tiga (translates to “Three-Legged Stamp”), a drink that tastes like nothing, which she swears by and believes cures every flu-related illness. I decided to give it a try; after all, on the back it promised to “relieve body heatiness, gingivitis, sore throat and helps to refresh body.” What did I have to lose? At the worst, I would get rid of my sore throat and any unsuspected gingivitis.
But as I lay in bed resting and sipping my 3-legged drink, trying to swallow around the terrible pain in my throat, I decided that enough was enough. My voice was gone and I couldn’t speak above a whisper. My throat was hurting so badly that every swallow brought a grimace and a gulp. I couldn’t hear clearly. And I was travelling in a week and a half; doing that with a throat or ear infection was asking for trouble. I had exactly zero reasons to wait to see a doctor.
The girl who lives here and I ordered a Go-Car (the car version of a Go-Jek, like an Uber) and headed out to the fancy hospital where the well-to-do of Jakarta Timur go. We got there just after noon. We checked in, they registered me and sent me up to see a GP. The nurse took my blood pressure, weight and height and asked if I had any medicine allergies. I told her that I’m allergic to penicillin and I watched as she put something into the system; I assumed it was my allergy information and all my vital statistics. Then I waited about 5 minutes and saw the doctor. With the girl who lives here performing translation services, the doctor asked me some questions, listened to my lungs, checked my throat and ears, then got to prescribing. She also asked if I had any medicine allergies and I told her again that I’m allergic to penicillin.
The doctor entered my prescription into the hospital’s system and sent me off to the pharmacy to collect it, with a warm, “God bless you!” and instructions to not eat any fried foods while I’m taking my meds (I think she forgot that we’re in Indonesia and everything is fried) and to have some hot lemon tea with sugar (basically, hot lemonade) to help bring my voice back and soothe my throat.
We proceeded back downstairs to the pharmacy to wait for my prescription, which was ready in about 15 minutes, and we were out of there 1 hour after we arrived. We took a bajaj back to the centre, where I had a little rice and got ready to Google my medication; I always do that before taking new drugs.
I must say, the service at that hospital was great. The environment was clean, the service was quick, the doctor and nurses with whom I came in contact were helpful and personable, and the cost wasn’t bad. Uninsured, the doctor, medication and transportation to and from the hospital cost me a total of 650,000 rupiah; that’s less than US$50.
I would totally give them top marks. If only the doctor hadn’t tried to kill me.
She gave me penicillin.
Back at the centre, I Googled each medication while I ate a little rice in preparation for taking them, and I found out that the antibiotic she gave me was a penicillin drug. There was no mistaking it; every website I checked said the same thing: don’t use this drug if you have a penicillin allergy. Ugh! This required a return to the hospital later in the evening and a swap of that drug for another one that’s safe for me. They were again pretty efficient and we were in and out within 15 minutes. The additional cost of going back to the hospital and returning again, as well as the difference I had to pay for the new medication, brought my total hospital-related costs up to 710,000 rupiah. So, final cost for this stupid illness was about US$53, uninsured. Still not bad by Western standards, not counting the doctor’s botched assassination attempt.
Once I was sure they were all safe, I fell on the medication like a starving wolf. There were pills and ear drops and cough syrup. The drugs started working almost immediately and the pain in my throat eased up a little that same night. By Wednesday morning, I could swallow with no effort and my ears were a little clearer. I have to take my stash of meds until they’re finished, so I have another day or 2 to go. But at this point I’m just glad I decided not to tough it out anymore and go get some drugs to sort myself out. This illness was a doozy and way beyond what I could handle on my own.
OK, that’s it. I’m accepting no more illnesses for this year. I’ve had enough for 2016. All the rest need not apply. To be honest, I like a good sick day as much as the next person, as long as the next person likes a minor-sniffles-snuggle-on-the-couch type of sick day. But I don’t think I’ve ever been sick this often in my life. I don’t like it. So, enough. I am officially DONE.