Apr 23, 2012

Facing Death in Varanasi, Part 2

It is believed that if you die in Varanasi, you will quit eternal circle of reborn (Samsara wheal). That day Helen was close, but probably few more lives are ahead...

Burning smell slowly kept flowing into our room from a nearby Manikarnika Ghat. Helen was awake and didn't feel well. After breakfast her stomach went on strike and never looked back. Probiotic medicine didn't make a difference by the late afternoon, moreover, headache and fever like symptoms would add up to already killing abdominal pain. We called a doctor, who spoke fluent English, made a thorough examination, prescribed a bunch of medicine and said it will be over by tomorrow afternoon. Val bought all the prescribed medicine, which included antibiotics, paracetamol, electrolytes, minerals and sth. for loose stomach.

It was all nicely packaged and annotated by a helpful pharmacist

Oldschool quicksilver thermometer was purchased as well to measure the temperature and, oh boy, it did! First measurements indicated +40C (104 F). Helen took prescribed medicine, but still would not take antibiotics to avoid potential sideeffects. Few hours later temperature wouldn't go. Pharmacist dropped by to bring the remaining medicine and insisted on taking antibiotics. After few more hours situation wouldn't change, we called a doctor again and he agreed it's better to take Helen to a hospital.

Val decided to call the insurance company to coordinate the actions. First trials to reach Latvian or Indian numbers failed - provided phone numbers in the agreement were outdated. Therefore Val googled uptodate list from "Coris", insurance provider, website and was able to reach their office in Mumbai. Mumbai operator first said they don't work with the agency we acquired our insurance from, but then doublechecked and said we have to call to "Coris Latvia" first. Val did just that and was told by a Latvian operator that help is on the way. Within 15 min there was no call from Latvia and Val called back to find out that Latvian representatives can't reach Indian representatives - phone number is outdated. Val provided correct number of Mumbai office to "Coris Latvia" representative. Coris Latvia called back in 15 min later to inform that "Coris Mumbai" demanded to receive email with insurance information we provided to "Coris Latvia" and will organize everything within the next 30 min.

At that moment Helen's condition started to improve, temperature fell down to +38C (100.4 F) and we kept waiting for call. Helen was feeling better and slowly fell asleep.

Coris never called back.


Honestly, I believe that having antibiotics on trips like these is essential. Great that you were able to find a doctor and get the medicine this fast, but it is not always the case :-)

If you don't want to spoil the trip then yes, otherwise choose alternatives. I'm still facing the consequences, but this is only my experience :)

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