(This week is Carnival!! I am holding out until the end of the week to post properly on this topic as the festivities are on going. Please enjoy this in the meantime)…
When you travel, you encounter grand things. Incredible people, incredible places and incredibly irritating illnesses. Now I wouldn’t trade any aspect of travelling for anything, unless you’re offering the world of course, but my experience so far hasn’t all been smooth sailing. Strangely you may think but if I could go back in time, I would wish minor illness upon myself all over again.
When you spend any length of time in a new country of course you are bound to encounter some problems. You’re surrounded by a new temperature, a new environment and in my case the worst problem of all. Children.
About a week ago I was struck with an ear infection in both of my ears. Now this apparently is common when you first come to a small island like Menorca due to the humidity in the air and the intense wind. But in some strange way this crippled me, I felt like I couldn’t get out of bed and all I could think about at night was how I may wake up unable to hear ever again. This mindset came from being alone. I had no mother to make me hot chocolate or hot water bottles, I had no boyfriend to fetch me food on demand and I had no friends who could come and watch movies and drink wine with me. I was alone with my thoughts, which provide the very worst kind of company.
Luckily for me, I’m the kind of person who doesn’t like to keep it quiet when I’m ill. The whole world has to know, so when I turned up to work at 8:30am (wearing no makeup for added affect), I made sure that everyone knew I was in agony with my ear. Which to be fair, I was. Having been woken up at 4am with agonising pain and resorting to dripping olive oil in my ear in the hope that this remedy wouldn’t deafen me further. Now in terms of passing on some advice, this would be step number one, don’t keep it to yourself. You may feel like you should, you may think that it is more hassle than it’s worth trying to navigate foreign hospitals, but if you don’t ask for help then don’t expect to receive any. Plus, treat it like a learning experience.
It took a few days for me to accept that my hearing was getting worse and when you work in a job where communication is already limited, being able to hear is rather essential. So I was informed that I was going to the doctor, (please note the word ‘informed’ which implies that this was forced upon me). I hate the doctors, hospitals or anything with a red cross attached to it really and the idea of going to a hospital where deaf me would have to communicate to Mr Spanish doctor what was wrong with me really didn’t appeal to me. But luckily for me, Mr Spanish doctor spoke English, who’d have thought? (It actually makes perfect sense now, but at the time I had to hold back from embracing him in a bear hug to show my intense relief). This would be step number two, don’t let silly thoughts prevent you from seeking professional help and definitely don’t downplay your symptoms. Looking back on it now, going to the Spanish hospital was a fascinating thing that I’d hoped I wouldn’t have to do but I’m glad I did. It provided me with an insight into the Spanish healthcare system and how their hospitals differ from that of the English.
Now something that is essential if you are travelling in another country is to have your correct and valid insurance with you when seeking medical attention. Having lived in England with my parents my whole life I have never been expected to pay for medical treatments and luckily for me with my European Health Insurance Card I was not expected to pay full price for treatments here either. I had to pay the bank breaking amount of 4 Euros for ear drops. Now to me this is nothing if it means I can stop dripping olive oil into my head and instead use a medically tested formula. This would be step number three, always have the correct insurance and medical documents to hand before heading to the doctors. Of course I am sure there are ways to claim back any money you do have to spend later if you do not have these documents, but this would also mean you being out of pocket by a considerable amount for potentially months.
Now step number four is my last step and is probably the most important, don’t panic. I received my drops two days ago now and my brain is already questioning why I am not better. These things take their time to work, think about how you would be responding to your illness at home. I know I’d probably be enjoying every second of it, having people fetch me food and lounging around in bed, and that’s because I’m not actually that ill. I’m just alone and that sparks panic when something doesn’t go right. Doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself though, curl up in bed with a movie and a bar of chocolate and everything will be over in a couple of days.
Love from Lottie xoxo