A trip to the ER

Saturday was supposed to be spent going with Yoli’s friends Roberto and Doris traveling to Cotoca and Paila.

But there was a little hiccup.

Or, more accurately, a lot of wheezing and coughing.

I woke up very early, unable to sleep, having trouble breathing. This only seems to happen to me in Bolivia and sometimes in St. Louis in springtime when we sleep with the windows open. At home I have a bit of leftover albuterol I can use in a nebulizer if things are really bad, but that’s very seldom.

Yoli had me breathe some steam, which helped a little bit, but I was still wheezing. After a while we decided to go to ProSalud.

I thought we were just going to a clinic, but it turns out we had to go the emergency room; my first trip to a Bolivian ER. I learned that, as always, they do things a little differently down here than I am used to.

The main difference is that you pay up front for everything. First you have to pay and get a receipt before a doctor will even look at you. Then, he writes up prescriptions for medicine, supplies and tests. You take these down to the pharmacy, pay for them, then bring all the paraphernalia back to the ER for the nurses to administer.

In my case the doctor wanted a chest x-Ray; he also prescribed a hydrocortisone shot, and three 10 minute nebulizations.

There was no way I was going to get an X-Ray just for this. It robbed me of a lot of sleep, but for me this condition improves as the sun rises and the air warms. What I really wanted was an inhaler or something just in case it happened again. But they don’t really do inhalers down here. The shot also seemed excessive, but they were treating it like an asthma attack.

When all was said and done, I felt much better, but our departure for Cotoca had been delayed a bit. It also messed up my morning: no shower, no changing clothes, no using the nice bathroom at El Jordan (ProSalud was a no-go; they are a bring-your-own-paper establishment, it seems).

Roberto and Doris met us at the ProSalud clinic. Read more about our trip together in the next post.

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