That time I got a parasite...

Trip Start May 08, 2013
Trip End Sep 30, 2013

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Flag of Peru  ,
Friday, May 24, 2013

So the other day I uploaded a blog entry saying I had food poisoning and that it must have been something pretty grim etc because it was lasting so long. Well, it turns out it isn't exactly food poisoning...

I'm not going to go into all the gory details, but suffice to say that after 5 days of being really unwell, we decided it was time to take a trip to a hospital. We decided on 'Clinica Arequipa' which is supposedly the best and most expensive.

There isn't a great deal of English spoken in Peru, but I was really hopeful at least one doctor would speak English. The receptionist only spoke Spanish, but that was relatively easy as I only had to ask her if I could see a doctor and roughly tell her what was wrong. I made an appointment for later in the morning and went back. Well, the doctor I saw (a gastro specialist apparently) did not speak English. Conducting an entire hospital consultation in broken Spanish is more difficult than you might think. Think about all the questions doctors ask think about being asked in a language you aren't fluent in. Difficult. Anyway, I got my point across to him and he sent me away to the hospital laboratory and told me to come back and see him in the evening with test results.

We walked to the hospital a total of 4 times today. It took the entire day with lots of gaps in between. As a side note, test results work a little differently here - you get the results and take them to the doctor, not the other way around. The doctor doesn't see them until you personally hand them over. Well, my Spanish is decent enough that I knew from the test result that something was wrong. Andrew's test result was completely clear - really weird since we have the same symptoms, albeit mine are a lot worse.

The doctor invited us into his room in the evening: to Andrew he said "tu...todo bien!" and to me he said "y tu...un parasito!". In short, he said Andrew was fine and that I have a parasite. Parasites are these things people joke about before you leave home (not naming anyone in particular...) but I actually have one. An "ameba parasite" to be exact. Pretty disgusting when you think about it. I got it from contaminated food or water - there's no way I could put my finger on the specific thing that caused it. It turns out it's pretty dangerous - if left untreated it can pass to your liver, and in some cases can be fatal. After finding this out, we were both pretty panicked and even considered coming home.

To make it worse, the supposed "gastro specialist" hadn't even prescribed the correct medication to kill it - thanks google! If it wasn't so serious I wouldn't have been so bothered, but we called out a doctor to the hostel we are staying in for a second opinion. She agreed the prescribed medication was incorrect and gave me another prescription to collect the correct medication. She also provided enough so that Andrew can take the medication too - although the test results say he doesn't have it, I find that hard to believe since we have shared literally every single meal. And it's better to be safe than sorry! There are two lots of tablets - the first we have managed to get from a pharmacy, however the second lot doesn't seem to exist in Peru. This is a bit of a problem, but getting it is something we will have to persevere with. In a few weeks I'll need to go to a hospital again to check that the parasite has been killed. Hope so...

In the mean time, the travelling has to continue. We have bus tickets booked to Puno for tomorrow morning and we need to go to Bolivia for a few days to sort out visas.
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