I’m not ill very often. In fact, my wife has asked me when I am ever ill. Until this year she could never remember me once visiting the doctor. So in January this year I went to hospital for a full checkup. Of course, that was a planned visit so it doesn’t count.
However, a couple of months ago I got bronchitis and was knocked out for about a week by that. Then, more recently, I was ill again so I’ve managed to go years without ever troubling a doctor and this year I’ve been ill twice!
The thing I really did learn from my bronchitis was to ignore the feeling that it will all be OK tomorrow – I just need some sleep. I thought I had flu back then, but it got worse everyday and I had, probably, four days of feeling really bad before I went to the hospital.
This time I thought I had some dermatitis, a skin rash on my face near my left eye. It looked like it from what I could see online. But I had a really bad headache too. After a few days I decided to go back to hospital – a headache that lasts day after day and a rash that is getting worse is not normal.
They told me it’s a bacterial infection and gave me some antibiotic eyedrops to help my eye. The next day I didn’t feel any better, then the following day I could not even get out of bed. The pain was so intense I could not talk and my eye was useless – I could only use one eye!
My wife was at our house and I was at our apartment so I was stuck alone and had a big problem. My wife called a friend, Renata, who came over and managed to grab me and steer me to the nearest hospital. Unfortunately they would not accept my insurance, but I just said I’ll pay! This is something British people forget – in the UK healthcare is never charged at hospitals. It’s strange for me here sometimes, wondering if the insurance covers this or that.
Anyway, that was on Thursday last week. The doctor found that the skin rash was actually shingles and my eye was infected. So I had a virus attacking my eye! No wonder I had a big headache. They gave me one IV drip after another full of painkillers and after three of them I could talk normally again… for the past week I have been on painkillers, antivirals, and antibiotics plus seeing an eye specialist every day to ensure my eye is OK.
The pressure inside my eye soared because it was so inflamed… just two days ago it was still twice normal pressure inside the eye.
Anyway, the bottom line is that things are back to normal now. I’ve had an entire week inside hospital being cared for 24/7 by some fantastic medical staff. I can’t fault the team here at Santa Isabel in São Paulo. Although they come in to give me my first drugs early – about 05:30 – and my last IV drip is at about midnight.
In many ways it’s been nice. I’ve been plunged into a Portuguese-only environment so I have been practicing conversation with all the nurses and I have read at least one new book everyday. Add to that every meal served in bed, afternoon tea, and evening tea and it’s not been so bad – at least once the pain was under control!
One funny thing has been that as I lay in my bed here in the hospital, I can see my apartment building. The nurses here all think it’s really funny that I can look out and see home. The curved building, covered in blue netting, on the right of the photo is my one!
The lesson, as it was with my bronchitis, is really to judge when to see the doctor. Don’t ignore any illness even if you think it’s just a cold or nothing serious. If it has lasted a couple of days then go and get checked out – I know that I will be at the doctor quicker in future, though I hope that’s it for me this year. Twice in a year at hospital is more than enough for 2015!
I’m going home tomorrow morning. I’m grateful to the fantastic team here at the hospital. It was a painful start to my week here, but it actually became quite nice at the end 🙂