For all that I’m profoundly skeptical about the safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, I’m nevertheless in no doubt about the danger of the disease if it gets hold of you. I’ve had it twice, last year and this year, and it’s no fun at all. Fortunately, despite belonging to several of the higher-risk groups that are threatened by it, I was able to treat it locally both times, and did not have to be admitted to hospital. (You’d better believe I keep effective medication against it on hand now, because there’s nothing to say I won’t get it again; but in my limited experience, it’s not as scary as they make it out to be.)
However, if you get a bad case of it, it’s every bit as serious as severe pneumonia (which often accompanies it), and it can be life-threatening. Two recent accounts of people who caught COVID-19 in third world countries are eye-opening, and make us realize how lucky we are to live in a nation where first-class medical care is relatively freely available.
Greg Ellifritz is a well-known firearms and personal security instructor; we’ve met him several times in these pages. On a recent trip to Ecuador, he caught a nasty dose of COVID-19, and had to resort to under-the-counter methods to get out of that country and back to the USA for treatment. (Interestingly, he says Ivermectin did nothing to help him. Also, he was vaccinated, but that didn’t prevent him getting infected; however, according to the doctors who treated him, it prevented his case from being even worse. Judge for yourself.)
The town where I was staying had no hospital or clinic. It didn’t even have a practicing physician. There was a tiny general medical clinic in the next town over, but it had very poor reviews. The closest real hospital was about 90 minutes away. The better hospitals were in Guayaquil, about three hours away.
Ecuador had some serious problems handling Covid patients a few months ago. In Guayaquil, the bodies of Covid-19 casualties were literally dumped in the street. I did some quick calculations. About 30% of the Covid-19 patients who were admitted into the hospital in Ecuador died. I really wanted to avoid Ecuadorian hospitals.
. . .
My previous plan was to ride everything out and fly back home once I was no longer contagious. My difficulty breathing altered that plan. I needed to get home to some real medical care before I died in Ecuador. It was time to change my flight and go home early. I changed my flight and planned to move to a bigger city for a day in case my symptoms worsened and I needed immediate local medical attention.
The problem now was the fact that I needed a negative Covid-19 test to get back in the country … As an admission to one of these tactics might be a crime, I’m not going to tell you how I got on board the flight, but it wasn’t difficult. The documents were the least of my worries getting out of the country.
. . .
[Back in the USA] They took CAT scans of my lungs. The doctor showed me the films. It was staggering. The CAT scans looked like both of my lungs were completely filled with broken glass. The diagnosis was double Covid-19 pneumonia. I would need steroids, anti-virals, and oxygen until my lungs healed up and started working again. Fortunately, I responded to the nasal oxygen and didn’t need to be intubated … I ended up spending six nights and seven days in the hospital until I could breathe well enough that I could be released.
There’s more at the link.
In his lengthy article, Greg links to a long Facebook post by Angela Sarwar, a nurse from Texas who caught COVID-19 while on vacation in St. Lucia in the Carribean. It’s also a very interesting study in the perils of Third World medical care.
The day before our departure we had to get a COV1D test to be able to fly out. Two people masked and gloved come to our room and tell us we both ended up with positive tests and we are being quarantined and not allowed to return home for at minimum 11 days. Confusing in itself, I felt fine, and his only *sickness* was the muscle issue and he said his throat was scratchy. I immediately start crying hard saying I have babies at home I have to get to and they just tell us to pack our bags.
We pack up, have a dr come to our room and test us again and confirm the positives. Then move us across the resort to a quarentine approved room. We’re given a phone with a Dr’s phone number and the number of the director and both say will fully treat us, give us whatever we need, everything is covered, 24/7 contact. They bring us plenty of linens, trash bags, coffee and close the door. And that’s it. Tony and I took a nose dive towards the worst. And no answer. The pain and the symptoms grew beyond belief and we were feeling two completely different lists of symptoms and miserable.
The doctor will not answer. The director cannot contact the doctor. But at 8:30,12:45, 5:30 that phone rings to bring us a meal. If I ask any other questions for any other help. I’m told I’ll be called back and the phone doesn’t ring again until meal time. I call for the resort nurse. She is kind but says she isn’t allowed to help me. I can only communicate with our designated doctor. Who doesn’t come by. Doesn’t call.
Why do we not go to the hospital? Well, it’s a 3rd world country government hospital. The limits on care and medical abilities is nill. We’re told once we choose to leave the resort to that hospital care, we are not allowed to return and become quarantined property of their government until they deem us fit to go home or we pass their number of days. On Monday they said they would tell us how many days our quarantine would be mandated. Today is Thursday and they haven’t called yet. We haven’t received medical attention. We cannot leave.
I’ve called the U.S. Embassy many times. I was told with our insurance we should be covered to be medevaced to the U.S. for health care. The government here is saying that isn’t their policy. Realizing the seriousness of *This is a third world country* something I should have considered before coming. But I’m like *it’s a Sandals resort, it’s St. Lucia, it’s great*. We want to go home. We want to be back on our soil. We want U.S. doctors and U.S. medicine. We want real treatment. Our U.S. doctor FaceTimed us and said we need a long list of medications and he tried calling it to the island – even if that was successful we would have to find someone to get it to us – but no pharmacy would fill it saying they don’t have those medications here. We try to get it FedExed but that’s going to take 2 days shipping + 7 days in customs and then their decision if we can have it. Two nights ago I thought my chest was going to quit, I thought I would quit breathing in my sleep it was so difficult, the next night the pain in my back and joints was excruciating, finally today its bearable to be alive. Tony is not doing better yet and the doctor will not answer. The resort will not send me my details of insurance inclusion and the fine print in the email is minimal. Something you don’t think about when booking and excited for a vacation.
Again, more at the link – much, much more. It’s a sobering account, particularly because Ms. Sarwar is a nurse, and is thus in a position to evaluate the (lack of) medical care they received from a more objective perspective.
I highly recommend reading both articles in full. If you may have to travel outside the USA for any reason, I’d plan on avoiding countries with that sort of medical “care”, whatever you do! I’d also plan on taking with me as much medication as I’m likely to need, and then some. If you don’t need it all, someone else might.