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Archive for February, 2006

Another hurdle

Sunday, February 26th, 2006

Well, time for another one of those blogs were I start by saying ¨Mum I´m fine¨ before going on. Trying to hammer up the coast of Peru is posting its challenges but we are knocking them off one by one before Peru does it to us (joke).

So after leaving Lima on our way up the coast where they advise a Police escort, we get through all the ¨high risk¨ areas no worries. So with my eye on the road and not on my palate, somewhere along the line I ate something dirty and contracted typhoid without knowing (of course I had the vaccine – I guess I´m the 1%). Happened to be the same day we rode 100km through a desert at a cracking pace with a German cycling machine we met with legs like Kauri trees. With typhoid it seems your stomach just stops completely. Anything you drink just sits in your stomach and you don´t hydrate. Great fun riding but towards the end of the day wasn´t feeling 100% and with my gut back to the same size it was in London I thought time for a check up. Luckily the beach town of Pacasmaya is JUST big enough for a hospital and was a short tuk-tuk ride from the hostel, so off we went….

This hospital has a pay as you go system and with each consultation, blood test, injection or pill you take, you do just that. But not always in the hospital. After they worked out I had a fever by me telling them, with the sweat and high temperature I asked for a drip. The doctor agreed this was a good suggestion and gave Angela a prescription for IV fluid, needle etc. Unfortunately the hospital did not stock any of this which meant Angela took a ride to find it all at various chemists. Sort of like reality TV, can you find the antidote before the life threatening disease gets you? Angela passed the first challenge and returned with the goods. With about 4 attempts in each hand the nurse finally found a vain after switching to the wrist area. Then Angela’s second test came, with a skyrocketing temperature an injection was needed. With new prescription in hand she was off. Chemists were closing but she rose to a new level and on return could almost speak fluent Spanish. I was particularly distressed as Angela passed the rather large needle to the same nurse who gave me the pin cushion hand. I then got the ‘roll onto your front’ sign, I knew where that injection was going – I was doomed.

Once I recovered and the doctor returned I thought right, time to start finding out what I actually have. A blood test is in order. Perfect I thought, I have the blood right here, surely this is easy. But unfortunately there was no one there who could take blood until the morning and I was not going to tempt the nurse to have another go on my arm, so round one over. The next day went relatively smoothly in comparison. In the morning at about 10am I received the ‘pay as you go’ blood test then later they diagnosed typhoid. Very common they said, and fatal without treatment, punctures a hole though the gut apparently, nasty. After the doctor suggested another night in the pay as you go hospital we asked for the antibiotic prescription and I discharged myself. Any future 5 hour wait in a NZ hospital will be worth it.

The total cost came to about 200 Sols which is more than many Peruvians earn in a year and many in their lives. I couldn´t help but feel I had cheated death in the eyes of any onlookers, and realised why they have armed security guards on the gate. Typhoid is very common, very easily treated but not all can afford treatment. I can see a problem in this system. When we left I remembered the elderly couple quietly arguing with the guard as we had been arriving and I had walked through without being questioned if I could pay or not. This little experience was educational and helped me understand the frustrations of people that we could almost feel in the air of some towns and in the eyes of some Peruvians.

We are now well and bursting at the seams to continue the riding after one day off (though we may take two). Six hundred kilometres from Ecuador and the last country on our official trip. Wahhoooo

Hope you are all cranking and giving it 100%
Cheers
Silas