Bad luck during our trip to the Czech Republic. One day after our arrival Annebeth started to have extreme pains in her stomach. At first, we thought she’d have a food poisoning but after a few hours, the pain got so extreme that we went to a hospital. It turned out Annebeth had an acute appendicitis which was already burst open. Because of the severe infection, she had to be operated within one hour of arrival.
So there we were, on New Year’s Eve in the middle of the Czechian countryside in a hospital where no one could speak any English or German. Luckily, the surgery went well, unfortunately, Annebeth had to stay in the hospital for another 7 days to recover.
Although we always prepare well for our trips. We ran into several challenges in which we want to give you some tips & advice.
It can always happen that you have to go to the hospital. Make sure that your international health insurance is correct and paid before you go. If you are insured properly, the costs will be reimbursed if you need to undergo a surgery, including any medication that is prescribed.
Important: Always take your health insurance card with you while traveling. If you want more information you should contact your health insurance.
Don’t be afraid
Never be afraid to go to the hospital, if you feel sick or have pain always go! It is better to be safe than sorry. Especially while traveling, you can end up in situations that it can be difficult to reach a hospital. So when you doubt, always go and don’t wait.
Make sure someone knows
When you are traveling alone make sure someone knows you are going to a hospital. No one can help you if they don’t know you are in the hospital. So best to call your friends and family or ask help from a fellow traveler.
Tip: Put an ‘’In Case of Emergency’’ also called ‘’ICE’’ contact in your phone. If something happens or you got caught in an accident, bystanders can check your phone for this contact number. ‘’ICE’’ is well known all around the globe.
What to bring:
Always bring the following items with you while going to the hospital. This is very important,(depending on the country) without them it may occur that the hospital won’t take you in.
- Health insurance card
- Credit Card
- Cash, in case they do not accept credit cardTip: You never know if you’re gonna get hospitalized, it can come handy to bring any fresh clothes and toiletries.
Inform your health insurance
Don’t forget to inform your health insurance. On your health insurance card you can find a phone number, call them and they will help you. Especially in the case of a surgery they can arrange the paperwork and costs with the hospital.
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It can be quite scary to get hospitalized in a totally unknown environment with different medical facilities and language barriers. During Annebeth’s time in the hospital, there were several occasions in which we could not communicate with the doctors and nurses due to a language barrier.
Below some tips to communicate without speaking the language.
Gestures and emotions
Try to talk with gestures and emotions, this can often overall explain what is going on.
Download a translate app with offline mode, it can happen that you do not have access to the internet. Especially in the case of emergency, it is useful to explain what's going on and what you want.
Speak to a doctor
In many countries, doctors have to take English classes during their study. If the nurses can’t understand you, ask for a doctor. Most of the time they can help and answer your questions right away.
Maybe during your travel, you have met some locals, contact them. They can also help you with translating and help you while you are in the hospital.
Getting hospitalized often happens very sudden.So sudden most of the time you can’t take all your belongings with you. If you are traveling together with someone it would be helpful if they could pick up your stuff and settle things in the hospital.
Tip: Always label your belongings so in the case of an emergency someone can easily find them.
It can be very lonely even if the room is filled with people. If you can’t talk to anyone or watch television because of the language barriers it is nice when you have some entertainment. When we travel we always take some books and games which can come in quite handy in this kind of situations.
Did you got hospitalized abroad? Tell us your story.