When I opened the door, my 3-year-old son was in an almost unresponsive state.
His temperature had unexpectedly skyrocketed, and we were living in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, a high-risk area for malaria.
The school doctor immediately responded to my concerned text, sending me to a clinic in my neighborhood along a dusty and pothole-laden road.
I knew I needed to communicate my sense of urgency to the clinic – and I know my French is much better after Brakina Bière du Burkina. But it was 9:30 am in the morning, and I had been working. When I arrived I managed to say, mon fils a une température très élevée.
I scanned the waiting area desperately looking for signs that I could now feel at ease. We were in the third poorest country on the planet, in a clinic totally unknown to us. My son was feverishly clinging to me.
When it was our turn, the nurse insisted that we weighed my son even though it was clear that just trying to get him step on the scale sent him into a panic. I kept thinking, “Seriously?!? Is this really so important?! Look at how distressed he is!!”
The pinnacle of the drama took place in a small glass cabinet where we were trapped between a wall and the nurse who took his blood as my son clutched onto my left shoulder screaming his lungs out.
I returned to the waiting room a bit shaken up. My son collapsed in my arms and fell asleep.
Moments later, we were called into the doctor’s office which looked to me more like the army barracks on the 1970s TV Show M*A*S*H.
Relief came as the diagnosis was not something life-threatening, but rather an ear infection.
This is just a glimpse of the “health adventures” one is asked to navigate when you are living abroad.
- Communicating urgency in a foreign language
- Sudden unknown cause of illness
- Cultural differences in how patients are treated
- Uncertainty around quality of care
- And more
Not for the faint of heart. But you do it all the time, don’t you?
What if you had a few tips at your side to make these experiences less traumatic? To tone down the uncertainty? Or actually make them more comfortable, or even enjoyable, for you and your family?
That is why I am so excited to welcome Carolyn Parse, our final guest of this six-week interview series on the not-so-often-talked about topics of expat life. In Navigating Health Adventures Abroad with Carolyn Parse you will discover:
- How you can prepare before a tough doctor’s visit, or invasive medical procedure
- What you need to be careful of when you are talking to your kids about what is going to happen with a doctor (especially when you are living cross culturally)
- Which coping strategies you can plan for
- How “health adventures” can be used to build self-confidence
- What to do after a health-related crisis to best support you or your child
- And more.
And you don’t want to miss this so you can find out what four-letter word my son belted out at the clinic when he was getting his immunizations recently. I am not proud, but now I know what I can do to prevent it from happening again.
Here’s to adding positivity into our health care adventures