Thanks to Colleen (a registered nurse) for some more questions that might make the chapter titles for the next book.
How often did you need to access real medical care (beyond the tribal “medicine man”), and what was the quality in comparison to the US?
There were relatively few times that I really needed medical attention.
- Bolivia for acute intestinitis (salmonella poisoning). The doctor was trained in Germany and treated me on his day off immediately. I give him credit for an accurate diagnosis and prescribing an effective cure, however, he tried extremely hard to frighten me about how serious my condition was and tried charging me over $500 dollars. I negotiated him down to $60 and was still overcharged many times.
- Costa Rica for a dislocated risk. Overall very good health care in San Jose. I think they even advertise health care vacations for anyone that wants to combine medical care or plastic surgery with a vacation and probably still have money left over.
- Booster shots and a dentist appointment in Belgium. Super fast, easy, affordable and friendly.
- I sought medical attention in India numerous times for some extraordinarily painful boils on my shins and ankles. And once for dengue fever. Medical care was extremely poor in villages and small cities. Doctors, if they really were doctors, often worked in a shack alongside the road full of shelves with bottles like a medieval alchemist in a movie. Pharmacies in the cities were much more civilized. However, after my fourth trip, I was diagnosing myself on the internet and prescribing my own medication. “No. That one didn’t really work. Why don’t try something different.” On the positive side, treatment was often free just due to my “celebrity” status.
- Australia for a routine checkup, and again for irritable bowel syndrome, probably due to my salmonella poisoning, or parasites, or one too many cases of giardia, or maybe too many antibiotics. Health care was very speedy, friendly and affordable.
- New Zealand for tendonitis in my knees. This was probably the best health care system I experienced. Free even to tourists (why let tourists infect the natives). Extremely no-nonsense, accurate and friendly. I saw the sports doctor, got a diagnosis, prescription, recommendations and went to the physical therapist for more advice and a routine of exercises, all completed within 2 hours after just walking into the clinic I happened to bicycle past.
To summarize, I would rate the United States health care system below average as far as developed country goes and as far as what seems possible these days. Of course, if you have the money, you can get top-notch care, but how many people have the money? I personally can’t afford health care anymore. All in all, there seems to be too much greed on one side, and too much lack of responsibility on the other side, which makes a recipe for inconvenient, over-priced miracle cures which are probably toxic. But that’s just my humble opinion after having experienced my travels and working for a cancer researcher after my trip.
What was the longest you stayed in any one place, and why?
Melbourne, Australia for 6 weeks. Mainly I was lonely and needed a break. Also, I had some time to wait for the weather to improve before I went to New Zealand.
You wrote that your brother shipped a new bike/parts off to you — how often did you have supplies/ goodies from home shipped?
My family shipped me a new wheel, a new rear cog, and a new credit card. My friend Debbie also brought me some supplies. I restocked and rebuilt my bike every time I entered a developed country.
How did your camera NOT get stolen or lost?
Always having to walk around with my camera, wallet and passport was a big pet peeve of mine. Unfortunately, the safe place was often by my side. My friend Dennis had 2 cameras stolen. Mine survived 3 years until it got wet. Certainly, I had people watching me like circling vultures, waiting for me to put my camera down so they could snatch it. However, for the most part, I found the world to be extremely safe, probably more safe than the average American city.