Recife, Pernambuco, Brazil

Visits to the Doctor

April 28th, 2012 | Posted by Brianna in How To

We both made trips to the doctor last week.  Ian, who hasn’t been to a doctor in six years, is in perfect health and had a fine appointment (aside from the slight offense he took at not being asked to turn his head and cough).  I, on the other hand, tend to be a bit more difficult in terms of maintaining good health, and the chat with my doctor was very necessary as we prepare to be away from the only medical system we know.  We have to start looking at these “normal” items in a different light.

Preventative – A good diet, sufficient sleep, and regular exercise create a strong base for a healthy lifestyle.  Annual rapport with a medical professional, bi-yearly teeth cleanings, and consistent sunscreen application are usually considered necessities as well.  Without immediate access to a doctor who knows my medical history though, I must also think through potential issues in the coming years.  For example, I’ve had knee pain for months that I wouldn’t typically find pressing enough to visit an orthopedist for… until now.  I have learned that my lack of counteracting muscular support for an abnormal bone structure can be helped with specific shoes and physical therapy.  If I am able to get that taken care of before we leave, I can maintain the exercises that will allow me to explore as I wish wherever we roam without ongoing pain or putting myself at risk for further dislocations.  Score.

Immunizations – Tetanus shots suck.  We were both past due, and our doctors quickly jumped on the opportunity to shoot us up.  And you know, while we’re at it, why don’t we just throw Hep A in your other arm?!  In the long run, I’d much rather spend a few days with stiff, sore arms than weeks with lock jaw and opisthotonus.  We have a handful of additional immunizations such as typhoid and yellow fever that we’ll need from the local clinic as well as prophylactics for encounters with malaria to stock up on.  Along with the informative CDC website, my doctor also suggested that we look at Passport Health and potentially visit their Triangle location.  Stay tuned for a detailed post on all of this soon.

Prescriptions – Though many prescription medications are readily available over the counter and for reasonable rates in other countries, we are aware of the risk of not being able to access specific drugs at any given time as well as not being able to guarantee the quality of our purchase once we’ve found it.  That being the case, there are a few items we hope to carry an extended supply of.  Inhalers are the biggest example of this need in my case, and while my doctor is more than willing to prescribe them to me in bulk, she also urged us to be mindful of the battle we may or may not be up against to receive the expected coverage from our insurance company given the strange setup.  Utilizing the time we have left here to make the most of our benefits is imperative.

Birth Control – Sex, though an uncomfortable topic for some (myself not included), is a very real fact of life making birth control a significant consideration for a young couple.  A daily pill from a monthly prescription that requires a yearly checkup presents some challenges given our upcoming lifestyle change.  Lucky for us, there are many types of birth control available today with varying degrees of convenience and effectiveness, and my doctor was extremely helpful as we analyzed the different options and the best fit for us.  This too has been an important part of our preparation as we are not currently trying to add a little one to our family, surprising as it may seem, I’m sure, given the fact that we are selling all of our things to live out of a car.

On our way out of my appointment, we stopped at the check out counter to set Ian’s for a few days later.  The receptionist asked us where we were going that we needed immunizations.

Well, Central and South America.

She stopped what she was doing.  Like, on a trip?

How do we make this simple… Actually, we’re moving there.


By this time, a second receptionist and the other lady in line were both staring at us inquisitively.  Ian jollily offered a short rendition of our plans, and the second receptionist’s mouth dropped.  I thought this only happened in cartoons.  I was wrong.  Her jaw just fell down as though someone holding a string attached to it had let it go.  Ian continued conversation with the lovely woman in line, but the second receptionist was frozen and I was stuck in an awkward silence with an I-don’t-know-what-else-to-say grin on my face.  About ten seconds later, a sound crept from her still open mouth… “What?”

Soon my wariness about the conversation melted away.  She was a truly kind woman, who very genuinely wished us luck and happiness as we left.  Not all people want what we want and each of their perspectives is delightfully refreshing, especially as I learn to open up to them.  I left the office with a head full of typical medical-esque, health-ish, copayment-y thoughts, but in the last week I have also enjoyed those experiences more than usual as, in addition to the extra questions we’ve asked and lessons we’ve learned, we’ve also excitedly begun another informative and necessary phase of preparation.

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