Somewhere in northeastern Romania. Photo taken November 30, 2016.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Chisinau, Republic of Moldova.

Where are they going next? Not sure. We're staying in Chisinau for a week or so.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Back to the doctor!

The reason we came to Bogota a few days early is because I (Kevin) have had a very bad rash and itchy, blistering skin for the last two weeks or so. I would show you a picture or two, but it's nasty. So I'm not going to. Use your imagination.

Originally, this started small, on my right calf, and left forearm and it simply got a little bit worse every day...for the last two weeks!

To the point where the left forearm and right calf are really bad...and the rest of my body is affected to varying degrees. Odd, but nothing on my face or hands.

We tried going to a Red Cross clinic a week ago Saturday (link here), but after three days of that medication it was only getting worse, so I stopped taking anything altogether. Some anti itch cream lotion helped a little, but the soothing effect wore off quickly. And it was designed for small areas only.

So, last night I looked up some private medical clinics here in Bogota. Colombia has a booming medical tourism industry and some very modern state of the art facilities in both Bogota and Medellin. We decided to go to the Clinica de Marly, about 5 kms (3 miles) from our hostel.

We took a taxi over there (8,400 pesos $3.82 CAD) at about 11:00am and found the entrance to the "clinic". Turns out that this is not a simple clinic...this is a full scale hospital!

It was a pretty busy place, but we found a "client services" desk and one of the girls there spoke quite good English. It turns out that she lived just outside of Toronto for a year. She was really helpful. I explained the problem and she made us an appointment for 2:30pm yesterday afternoon to see a general doctor. The cost would be 61,900 pesos ($27.85 CAD) and we could pay with credit card at the time of the appointment.

She also booked an appointment with a specialist dermatologist for Wednesday morning, That would cost 120,000 pesos ($54.00 CAD) if the general doctor thinks that we should go. Otherwise, we simply cancel the appointment.

We had some time to waste before the 2:30pm appointment so we went for a walk.

Yep, those little yellow taxis are everywhere

And the graffiti is everywhere too.

A nice looking church. The interior was nothing special.

More graffiti. They even graffiti the glass here.

Isn't graffiti attractive?

Haven't seen a city this bad for graffiti since Morelia in Mexico. Terribly unsightly. I wrote a blog post about graffiti a few years ago...


However, graffiti  is considered by some to be "art". And some of it really is art, and it's amazing. But when it's unregulated you have to put up with a lot of the crap as well. Some people believe that this art makes a city more vibrant and interesting. Not us. We think it makes the city look like trash.

As Derek, one of our facebook readers commented... "Art" is in the eye of the beholder. And when said "art" is done on property not owned by the artist, it is vandalism, regardless of how nice it may look or how famous the supposed "artist" is.

Yep. We agree.

Along our walk, we decided to stop at a cafe bakery and I ordered a hot chocolate and Ruth ordered an orange juice. The girl asked if we wanted anything to eat, and I explained about us not eating wheat. She said that she had something, and brought over a couple of pieces of cake. 

We each had a bite of our cakes and quickly decided that they were made from wheat flour. Now I know that our Spanish is not great, but we really don't get how she could have misunderstood. I called another girl over, and sure enough she said these cakes were made with wheat flour. She looked around at the offerings and got us a big hunk of cake made with corn flour. Much better, and we were not charged for the other two.

I was facing the street, and while we were sitting there, a young grubby looking man came up to the front counter. The staff were quite far away from that section and he said something and as soon as the girl turned around he grabbed a bun and ran back onto the busy sidewalk. One of them went after him, but she quickly returned. He was gone with his bun!

It was getting close to 2:00pm and we had to go to the clinic.

Once inside, it was packed. We had to take an electronic number and we thought it would take forever, but they ran through the numbers quickly. Our appointment showed up in the computer and we paid the 61,900 pesos ($27.85 CAD) by credit card. We should be able to collect this back from our Saskatchewan provincial medical insurance.

Waiting our turn.

Once we paid, we were directed up to the 2nd floor. It was busy up there too, but the nurse said to take a seat.

Minutes later, the doctor came out and asked for me...right at 2:30pm! We were impressed.

Dr. Mauricio Bethes was really good. A guy about our age and his English was quite good. He said that he had gone to a private school in his youth and he and his sister were in the English full immersion program. Then as an adult he lived in Florida for one year.

He was very thorough in dealing with my problem. I thought he was doing a full physical at one point. long story short, he thinks that I had had an allergic reaction to something, but without getting into a battery of tests there is no way to be sure. It is not shingles, but may be a form of eczema.

The main thing is to get rid of it and make me more comfortable. 

I have two different drugs to take...antibiotics because two areas are infected and that is also causing the swelling... and a once a day heavy dose of Prednisone which is an anti inflammatory. I had tried taking this last week on my own, but the dose was not nearly enough.

Plus, two different types of skin cream...Presiderm, a skin anitbiotic ointment, and Cetaphil lotion for dry skin.

The four things at the pharmacy cost 160,000 pesos ($72.00 CAD)!

Says I should see a definite improvement in 24 hours and if it's not getting better in three days to go back and see the specialist. 

So...fingers crossed.

We then started walking back towards the hostel, knowing that it was about 5 kms (3 miles). We stopped for an early dinner, and took some photos along the way. Before we knew it, we were back at the hostel.

One nice mural. And a bunch of not so nice stuff down below.

Mittens and Christmas themed stuff for sale on the street.

Some very modern apartment buildings here.

And some modern office buildings too.

This is very cool.

This is not very cool!

This is what most of the streets in our area look like!

With the occasional piece that's really well done.

Today, we're off to the Bogota Gold Museum. It's one of the things that we came to Colombia to see, so we're kind of excited about it!

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Great deal this morning on a Black and Decker cordless hand vac. I always thought this unit might be good for an RV....


And in Canada, a great deal on an electric snowblower. Hey, it's December 1st...if you don't already have snow, you will soon!




37 comments:

  1. Eww, that graffiti is unsightly.
    Hope your new treatment does the trick!
    It would be interesting to compare the cost of those meds in Canada :-)

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    1. That's what we think. We love the murals that we see but not this tagging stuff!

      The meds seem to be helping so that is a good sign. Kevin started to compare them but it is difficult because of the quantities. I think 3 of the medications are definitely cheaper but one cream is quite a bit more and it is one that is easily available off the shelf at home but I guess they have to have it imported here or something.

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  2. Glad you git some meds, hope they work for you.

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  3. Hope the meds work for you, Kevin. It's one thing to be at "home" and be uncomfortable, but totally different - in my opinion, at least - when you're going from place-to-place.

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    1. Thanks Derek, Kevin thinks they are. :-)

      You are right about it not being a whole lot of fun when you are traveling. Kevin has been trying real hard not to let it effect him but it does nevertheless.

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  4. Gah! I'm with you on the graffiti end of things. Can't stand it. It doesn't hang around long in these parts. Owners are quick to have it removed, and quite often the "artists" are charged with both trespassing and vandalism. We'd get it once in a while at the school, and we would have it removed by nine a.m. AND, one time the constabulary came by to ascertain what it looked like. They were closing in on the culprit and were about to lay charges.
    Sure hope the meds work out. Having anything of a chronic nature like that puts a damper on everything.

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    1. Unfortunately here there are no laws for it and that is why there is so much of it. We even saw tags on the main church in the downtown plaza yesterday. The "Street Art" group feels it is worth the ugly tags in order to get some beautiful pieces but we still don't agree with it and won't do their "free" walking tour because then we feel we would just be agreeing to it too.

      Kevin says they seem to be helping so let's hope this continues.

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  5. Hope the meds work and that the doctor was right. Sad to see all the graffiti. Vandalism is vandalism and too bad it can't be eradicated.

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    1. So far they seem to be working but it will still take time. He does feel some relief from the itching so that is half the battle.

      Totally agree with you on the vandalism, even when it is well done if it is on private property and you don't have permission it is still wrong. Some cities have got it under control but here it isn't against the law.

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  6. Thank goodness they have not graffited the church... it was interesting to see the men & woman in the blue suits in the one picture, students or young professionals mabe.....
    I guess that rash could not be poision ivy...Ruth is happy it is not contagious....:)

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    1. No it didn't look like they did but they did graffiti the on in the main square in the city.

      There is a medical university in that area as well as a technical college. I think they were from the technical college, as we did see some leaving from the school and they were dressed the same.

      Nope, not poison ivy! Luckily whatever it is, it's not contagious.

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  7. Fingers crossed that the meds bring relief!

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  8. Good you found a doctor who seems to know what he is doing, hope things improve soon.

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    1. Yes, he seemed pretty thorough. Kevin does seem to be feeling some relief, so that is a good sign.

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  9. I've heard that medical in Columbia is pretty good, sounds like the Doctor is very well versed so hopefully his solution will work for you. The gold museum - a definite must!

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    1. It seemed pretty good to us. The clinic/hospital was in an older building but inside was very modern and very clean, also very busy. Kevin certainly hasn' t been as itchy but the swelling is still there. Hoping it keeps getting better.

      The Gold Museum was great!

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  10. These "taggers" should be sentensed to community time and made to clean uo their own mess. Murals are art, tagging is usually gang related and intended to mark a territory, and it's ugly. In Vancouver there is a company that removes this tagging on buildings, they are very busy.
    I hope your news meds will do the trick, being uncomfy while traveling is a real drag.

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    1. Totally agree with you Peter, tagging is very ugly! Not all of the nice "street art" is done with permission though so therefore it technically is also vandalism. Unfortunately there are no laws covering the graffiti so it seems to be accepted by the people of the city that they have to put up with the taggers in order to get the few nice pieces of art.

      I have no doubt that the company in Vancouver is busy, I expect they are in all the main cities in Canada.

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  11. Kevin, I hope this new protocol works, but I am glad you have the dermatologist appt just in case!

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    1. We hope so too! We have canceled the appointment with the specialist though as it was for today and Kevin does feel like there has been some improvement so we will hang around a little longer and see how it goes.

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  12. my first thought was shingles..good news that was not the diagnosis..
    congrats on the article in the Globe and Mail by the way!!
    making us Canadian RV'ers proud!

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  13. Many of those murals are awesome.
    We will keep you in our prayers that these last earners work...and fast.

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    1. Yes they are and there are a lot more of them in the city, it's too bad that they allow all the tagging as well.

      Thanks for thinking of Kevin, the new meds seem to be helping so we will have to wait and see.

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  14. Sending healing thoughts. Thanks for posting under dire circumstances.

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    1. Thank you Contessa! I won't say dire circumstances but definitely not enjoyable ones.

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  15. Sure hope this set of meds takes care of it for you. It sounds awful and I am amazed at how you are just carrying on. What a city your great pictures show. Be well soon.

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    1. We are really hoping so too! Kevin has noticed some relief from the itching so that is a good start. I am not sure how he has put up so well with it, I would be lying sedated in a hospital if it had been me!

      We have seen much better cities I our opinion but it is an interesting city nonetheless.

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  16. Hopes you will be quickly healed. Blessings...

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    1. Thank you Lynn, Kevin hopes so too!

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  17. I hate seeing graffiti. That's not art, it's vandalism. Angry people who are looking for attention from their peers. Sad. Bogota is a beautiful city though with lots of history. I know you're not big on museums but the Quinta de Simon Bolivar is pretty interesting, well for me it was. Let's hope that medicine works for you. Fingers crossed.

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    1. Yep, our thoughts exactly, it really takes away from the city in our eyes, anyway.

      Thanks for the suggestion Chris, we did two museums yesterday and at least one more on the schedule for today so that may be our fill of them but we'll see.

      Fingers and toes are crossed!

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  18. Such a contrast from the obvious talent and work that went into the murals and the mindless vandalism of the rest. A shame.

    I have to say Prednisone rocks. The rash I had on my legs (sounds so similar to yours) that was so incredibly itchy was reduced to zero within 24 hours of taking the drug. It's not real good for you, but the alternative, as you are painfully aware is just no fun. If I recall they gave me 40mg/day (8 tiny tablets x 5mg). The side effect for me was lack of concentration and irritability (fair warning Ruth). I wasn't fun to live with my wife says. Within a few days the rash was nearly gone. Then you have to wean yourself off the Prednisone. I kept cutting the dosage in half and that took a couple of weeks to finally get off it completely.
    You did the right thing by avoiding taking Prednisone as long as you could, but given the skin condition and now risk of infection I think you were wise to take the docs advice. (so says me the non-doctor. Sorry if I sound preachy) Now I have a sympathy itch on my lower leg I have to scratch!

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    1. Yes, it really is a shame. The tagging makes the city look like a war zone in our opinion but obviously not everyone feels this way.

      The Prednisone does seem to be helping, I guess when he tried it last week it just wasn't a strong enough dosage. He knows that it isn't great for you, especially when we avoid medicines as much as possible like us but as you say it is better than the alternative. Thanks for all your support.

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  19. An eczema diagnosis wasn't on my radar, but it makes sense. Prednisone is what's been prescribed for my skin ailments (mostly allergic reactions), and I figured you'd have to get on board with it, too. You should be better soon! :- )

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    1. Not totally sure it is eczema but it could be that due to a reaction from an allergy. The Predinsone does help with relief for the itching and the rash does seem to be clearing up somewhat. We would sure love to know what caused the rash in the first place though so that Kevin could stay away from whatever it was in the future.

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