Ecuador visit and Medical attention
by Peter Franklyn
(Palm Harbor, Florida)
April 4, 2009
I travelled to Quito for the I.L. conference in early March, going three days before the conference to become acclimatated, and planned a 3 week tour of Ecuador after the conference. First a word about the IL conference, I made so many contacts there and learned so much about a multitude of subjects that it definately was worth the trip alone.
My first stop after the conference was Cuenca, I splurged the $65 to fly there rather than the 10 hour bus trip.I arrived on the Monday, was met at the airport by Juan Heredia of TerraDiversa travel agency, who I met in Quito, excellant source of local information, who took me to my Hostal, The Macondo, a very nice and clean Hostal, excellant service, we dropped off my bags and joined a small group of other visitors for a tour of local houses/appartments for sale and rent. So went my first 4 days, meeting the contacts I had met in Quito and really being taken care of. Cuenca is such a lovely small city, very clean and full of interesting places to visit.
I was due to travel to Vilcabamba on the Saturday, and for some reason, I am still not sure why, I cancelled that trip on the Thursday and decided to stay in Cuenca another week. That night I became very ill with a bad stomach upset. The Friday morning saw me in extreme stress, which I thought was the result of a Mexican meal I had eaten on Thursday. One of the guys I had met at the Hostal went out and bought me some medication and I spent the day in my room, not daring to venture far from a toilet. Several of the people I had met that week contacted me and were very sympathetic, offering whatever help I needed.
Saturday morning I was a mess and I could not understand why a bad meal was causing such trouble. Juan Heredia, mentioned above, called me and convinced me to go to a doctor. Juan Perez, an English speaking taxi driver and Ben, a local ex-pat, arrived at the Hostal and took me to the ER of Santa Ines Hospital, where Juan's father was a doctor. After an examination, blood tests and Ultra Sound exams the Doctor, who was also english speaking, informed me I had an infected Appendix and needed immediate surgery. My first thought was 'how can I get back to the USA for treatment'. The Doctor told me that the Appendiz was about to perforate and the only way I could get back to the States was in a coffin. He also told me the operating room had been prepared. Given no other choice I agreed, wondering if I would see my family again.They provided me with a computor so I could send an e-mail to me daughter, then off to surgery. I now know what an Epidermal feels like. The surgery took about an hour and then off to the recovery room. After that I was taken to a private room, where I was constantly monitored by nurses.Juan, the taxi driver and Ben visited me that everning. I was given medication and spent a relatively peaceful night. The following morning, Sunday, the Surgeon who performed the surgery, and spoke very little english, visited to check up on me, with his 12 year old son who spoke english and translated. My stay in the hospital was excellant, the service was terrific and despite my very limited Spanish, everyone went out of their way to look after me.
Juan Heredia picked me up from the hospital and drove me back to my Hostal. Dixie and John, Ben and the 2 Juan's all visited me, it seemed I had a constant stream of visitors.
The following Wednesday back to the hospital for a check up with the Surgeon, who typed out a letter for me, explaining the dates, procedure carried out etc, for my insurance company. By the way, never travel abroad without travel insurance, that was the best $40 I have ever spent. The cost of the surgery and all the tests and hospital stay? $1440, in the States it would have been 10 times that. The level of treatment I received? first class, better than anything I have experienced in the States, and this was in Cuenca, not even one of Ecuador's largest cities. When I move down there, which I am doing this June, I will gladly spend the $90 per month medical coverage. I will also have a group of people who supported me throughout as friends. Would I have been so fortunate anywhere else? I do not know, but I feel perfectly safe in moving to Ecuador to live.