Hospital in Cusco, Peru

Daniel hadn't been feeling like himself for three days or so. He had some stomach woes and was a little on the exhausted side, but things were turning around. He ate a normal breakfast and lunch earlier in the day. We were in the middle of a nice dinner when things went south. He suddenly put his head in his hands, then stumbled away from the table and out of the restaurant. I was afraid that he was going to vomit, so I gave him a moment of privacy before going outside to check on him. I found him slumping on the sidewalk, sweating, pale, with dilated pupils and nearly passed out. He was able to talk, but not get up by himself. A passerby was kind enough to flag down a taxi and tell the driver which hospital to take us to, while a few guys helped get him into the backseat. I was scared, to say the least. During the drive, he started to come around. He was extraordinarily dizzy, with tingling arms and tongue, but he was talking normally and his head was no longer doing the creepy "I have no strength so I will just lul to the side" thing. By the time we reached the hospital, he still looked terrible but was able to walk himself in and tell the lady at the desk what was wrong. He sat down, while the woman made a phone call. "We are handling a large emergency and don't have room here," she said. "Wait five minutes, and an ambulance will be here to take you to the hospital down the road." At that point, I started to think dollar signs. We have travel insurance, but not full medical insurance. I told her that we would just take a taxi, and asked for the name of the other hospital. "That is not necessary, it will just be five minutes" she told me. "And the ambulance is free." ...Umm... ok. so we waited.


The ambulance arrived shortly after, and the woman who made the call accompanied us to the other hospital. When we got there, someone was waiting for us with a wheelchair and immediately wheeled him inside, up the elevator, and into the nicest private hospital room I have ever seen. There was a private lounge room with comfy chairs outside the actual room. Through the glass doors, the hospital room was complete with a TV, beautiful view of the city, a bed for me to sleep in, and a fresh towel and soap in case I wanted to freshen up. Once Daniel was in bed, a doctor came in with some sort of patient care administrator to introduce themselves. Both spoke excellent English. While the Doctor got Daniel's medical history and did an exam, I gave the administrator a driver's license. Within twenty minutes of when we arrived, the doctor had completed his exam.

Soon after, two nurses came in to start an IV and draw bloodwork. It took a few tries since Daniel's veins were not cooperating, but they managed. Someone also came to take an EKG (which we actually got to keep when he was discharged), get a urine sample, and give him meds. Once they left, it was apparent that we were going to be staying overnight. I decided to take a cab back to our hostal to get a change of clothes, cell phone charger, and kindles so that we could entertain ourselves. It was late, and I didn't immediately see any cabs outside the hospital. I went inside and the woman at reception asked if I needed help with something. They sent for the hospital police to escort me outside to flag a cab down, who waited for me while I gathered my things and brought me back to the hospital. Daniel started feeling much better once he had the IV and antibiotics, so we spent the evening watching the Olympics, reading, and resting.


The next morning during rounds, we found out that his bloodwork showed a bacterial infection, which they attributed to food poisoning, along with mild dehydration. He was discharged later in the day with antibiotics and stomach medication, feeling much better. When we went to pay, we had no idea what to expect. The entire ordeal cost us S/1.500, which works out to be about $570. Luckily, our travel insurance is going to cover the bulk of it, but even so, the level of care we received was phenominal and the cost was significantly lower than it would have been in the United States. We later found out that the floor he was on was dedicated solely to tourists, and that the doctor had spent time in the States (including Cleveland, Ohio... to which Daniel responded "I'm sorry!"). Most everyone who took care of him spoke English and did a nice job answering my pharmacisty questions.

I'm sure its not the last time one of us will need medical attention on the road. Having good travel insurance (which I will discuss in another post once we actually get reimbursed) is something that I am 100% glad that we spent the money on. I am also thankful to the kindness of strangers who helped us and basically held our hands through the process, and to the staff at Clinica San Jose, who were phenominal. It has been ten days ago now, and Daniel is feeling back to his usual self again.