Risky Travel Business

As the title says, travel – especially travel to remote regions – can be risky business. While good medical facilities are available in most capitals and larger cities, more distant regions leave few options for treatment. During our time on the road, we have heard endless stories of people getting sick or injured miles from nowhere. Those stories can leave even the most experienced travelers feeling uneasy. Knowing when and where to seek treatment isn’t always simple. And I learned that lesson, yet again, first hand.

Days of stinging pain in the lower right-hand side of my stomach had my mind racing. What if I had appendicitis? How fast could I get to the closest real hospital? Where was the closest real hospital? Although Kalabahi, the capital of tiny Alor, had a small walk-in clinic, it was no place to undergo surgery. Knowing that I couldn’t just walk into a modern hospital pushed me to the brink of panic. Was my pain getting worse? Was my head playing tricks? Should I just wait and see? In the end, precaution took over. I decided to take advantage of Alor’s small airport and fly back to Bali to seek medical treatment.

Despite the pain, the decision to leave was not easy. I really loved Alor. The landscape was spectacular, the people were wonderful, and Tony, Catherine and I had found a delicious little eatery in Kalabahi. Why would I want to leave paradise? Was my pain really that serious? Add to that the potential costs and difficulty involved, and I had myself some good reasons to stay. But a choice had to be made. And I decided to err on the side of caution.

I spent the whole next day traveling from Alor via the island of Timor on to Bali. My doctor’s appointment was set for the following morning at Kuta’s BIMC Hospital where I received a physical exam and sonogram of my abdomen as well as blood work. The results were – well – surprising. I was absolutely fine. The Indonesian doctor suggested I might be suffering from irritable bowel syndrome. I was advised to eat bland food and stay close by for a few days – just in case.

Yes, decisions have an impact. Altogether, I probably spent an extra $800 (US)  just to hear that I was fine. Luckily, all medical fees were covered by my travel insurance. The question is what if I hadn’t been fine? Fact is, adventures are inherently risky. All we can do is weigh the pros and cons and come to a meaningful decision. I guess, so far, we’ve been doing just fine. The worst thing that happened this time around was a false alarm and a few wasted flights.

But let me just say for the record, “Knock on wood!”

3 responses to “Risky Travel Business”

  1. avatar Leonie says:

    Thomas, gut zu hören, dass es Dir gut geht! Hoffentlich sind die Schmerzen inzwischen weg. Nehmt Ihr inzwischen schon Abschied und freut Euch auf die Staaten oder habt Ihr andere Pläne?
    Liebe Grüße, Leonie

  2. avatar Lisa Nunn says:

    I am glad you turned out to be fine. 🙂
    I wish that being fine were free, though. Heck, being sick should also be free.

    I just watched a Frontline documenatary called “Sick Around the World” and it turns out there are lots of industrialized nations where being sick IS free, or nearly so. I hate our healthcare system in the US. But, I guess it does have more options than Alor does…IF you have good health insurance, that is.

  3. avatar Thomas says:

    Luckily, Tony and I have travel health insurance. They did reimburse me for the actual hospital’s fee ($350), but not for the hotel and flight costs – or anything else I paid during that week in Bali.

    At least, I feel a lot better now and I am worry-free (which means I can enjoy traveling again).

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