What’s luck got to do with it?
I’ve never considered myself a particularly lucky person, that is, until I was struck by an illness on par with that of a category 5 hurricane. I now realize how lucky I’ve been in avoiding sickness in my previous travels. For nearly 10 days, I felt like every meal I had was an intricate game of cat and mouse. Would my stomach cooperate? Unlikely. I will spare everyone the indelicate details of my symptoms in this post, although I’m sure many of you can guess what came along with my stomach ailment.
Sometime around day 6 I began taking an antibiotic, which spoiler alert, did not work. Not to be dramatic, but I’m going to be dramatic for a second-- I thought I might just collapse and die from sheer exhaustion and dehydration. Given the circumstances, it was suggested that I pay a visit to Vikram, the local hospital. Upon arrival and after completing an intake form, I was pleasantly surprised that I was seen by the doctor in less than 30 minutes. I expected to be brought into some type of exam room, but instead I was led into a small office containing a table with three chairs for evaluation. My doctor sat adjacent to me and asked me to explain my symptoms and their duration. After a short conversation and watching him scribble down a variety of notes, he simply said, “Would you like to stay a couple nights?” I was caught off guard by his question, in part because I can’t think of a time when I would ever want to stay in a hospital, whether here in Bangalore or back in Seattle. I was also concerned about the price, given my experience with the cost of healthcare in the United States. After some reassurance from Deborah about the cost being relatively low, I paid roughly a $200 deposit and decided to be admitted.
I was given what is classified as a, “semi-private room,” meaning that there was a chance that I would have a roommate, although I would later be switched to a different room, in which I was the only patient. Upon arrival, the room had most of the basic amenities of a US hospital room. Interestingly enough, the walls were a pretty lilac color, as opposed to the general beige interior of most medical care facilities in the United States. After changing into the provided hospital attire—a cotton pair of pants and matching shirt (no backless dresses here!), I was given several doses of IV fluids and antibiotics. This is the part of the story in which I did recover and felt like a human being again.
I could fill five entire pages with what I experienced in between being admitted and discharged from Vikram, but I think what’s more important to note about my entire experience is the reflection that came after. I am still lucky, and my luck did not run out because I fell intensely ill while studying abroad. Though unfortunate, I’m lucky to have even had an opportunity to get sick while traveling and experiencing this vibrant country. I’m especially lucky to have the means to pay for my treatment, and to have been so well-received by the dozen or so staff members that cared for me during my stay.