Medical Emergencies Abroad

Getting sick while away from home is both scary and a pain in the a*s. And yet your body is likely to break down in one way or another: you are confronting new germs; potentially doing more in day than you would in your home country; potentially putting yourself in physically trying situations.

Intiwawa has a board member in Arequipa specifically tasked with coordinating medical assistance (hi, Carlita!). This makes going to the doctor/clinic much less traumatic: She can walk you through the bureaucratic steps, assist with language barriers, and keep you company in the waiting room. Having a guardian angel makes a huge difference in what is otherwise a singularly stressful experience.

If disaster strikes when you’re not in Arequipa, fear not. Some hostels, like Intro Hostel  in Cusco, have doctors on-call that will perform on-site check-ups and bring you to a clinic if need be. Otherwise, dial 106 for medical emergencies and/or ask a local shop owner, etc., for directions to the nearest hospital or clinic.

In my experience, the actual time spent in a hospital is not quite as moving as the hours and days after, when the impact of what has just happened and what you have accomplished in a second language begins to sink in. I recommend taking lots of rest and speaking with friends and family over the phone — a voice is much different than a text screen. Spend time with local friends, as well, and try to re-acclimate yourself to your daily routine. Take time to appreciate what your body and mind have been through: foreign pathogens, foreign health system, foreign language.

Other Resources

Lonely Planet guide to healthcare in Arequipa.

Traveler’s Insurance (highly recommended for travelers whose health insurance will not cover them abroad).

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