Monday, July 29, 2013

Getting sick abroad

Stranger in a strange land--and sick. Not good. I remember being pretty sick in a hotel room in Madrid and I kept calling the desk and saying I was sick and needed a doctor..."No, no, no dottor," the guy would say. Then CLICK.

Finally the chambermaid came in, saw I was pea green and talked to the desk. They sent an English-speaking doctor and he wrote me a prescription and relieved me of one of my emergency hundred dollar bills (accepted everywhere, I assure you). The prescription was $2. The bellhop brought it.

Matthew Perrone, AP, wrote about getting sick in another country. First, bring your prescriptions with you. If you are going to be gone a long time, try to get an extended amount. Keep it in the bottles it came in.

If you take a narcotic painkiller--check with the embassy before you leave. It could be considered illegal.

If you lose your pills, most pharmacies abroad will honor a fax or email from a US physician. Some countries don't even require prescriptions for antibiotics and other common pharmaceuticals.

If you need a doctor and your hotel does not have one on call--call 1-866-ASK-ABMS. This is a list of board-certified docs worldwide.

If you have a weird blood type or condition, bring a medical history.

You may want travelerrs health insurance. I have gotten it. Check out It is not too expensive--maybe a couple of hundred. But a flight to bring your sick self back to the US can top $50K.

Of course, getting this insurance also insures that you won't need it. That is worth the money!

If you must delay your return, be sure you have a doctor's note for the airline so they will waive the change fee. I had one in Spain, but they would not honor it--I duked it out with them later and got my $150 back.

Also--learn how to say SICK in the language of the country where you are headed. I can sure remember how to say it in Spanish now--infirma.


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