Notes From Hairenik
August 25, 2006
Exactly a year after the demise of my fever from hell, which in Vanadzor kept me under two layers of thick wool blankets so as to attempt to keep my temperature down as well as the pressure building up behind my eyeballs, I came down with another miserable fever, though not as severe, in good ol’ sunny California. For the last five days I’ve been laying about in my hotel room, fighting a temperature of 100 degrees F or sometimes higher. Simultaneously an infection in my mouth formed, causing a bout of gum disease virtually overnight. Thus I’ve been very weak as well since I haven’t been able to eat anything of any substance other than bottles of kefir, which is a thick yoghurt drink that doesn’t require chewing to consume. Nights were spent sleepless, although I lay exhausted in pools of sweat, while I would catch one or two hours of sleep here and there during the day. I felt a bit like a vampire actually, bloody gums and all. For days I was trapped in the room, going out only for short bursts of time to buy some water—I drink a minimum of a gallon a day—and more kefir. A trip to the emergency room at the local hospital in hopes to score some antibiotics proved futile, having waited for two hours and the male nurse on duty essentially convincing me that there was no hope in seeing a doctor anytime soon.

Finally after swishing several different concoctions in succession around in my mouth dozens of times, namely salt water—which I could only use once as the pain was excruciating—a commercial blue mouthwash made with hydrogen peroxide specifically suited for treating mouth wounds, and water with a few drops of tea tree oil added, as well as carefully massaging the gums to extract the microbe-invested thick saliva juices from their hiding places, I’ve been able to partially cure the infection. Not surprisingly, my temperature has dropped to normal almost simultaneously. Then again, I’ve noticed that it’s been fluctuating a bit for some mysterious reason. Thankfully, my wife Ariga who came out here two weeks ago was by my side, helping me recover.

But I’ll have to say, and this may sound crazy seeing that I am in the land of plenty, I would have received better health care had I been in Yerevan. Visits to the emergency room fluctuate in price depending on where you go, but after a bad spill on the ice earlier in the year which really banged up my back, I ended up leaving the hospital having to pay only $40 for both a physical examination and a set of X-rays. Health care is meant to be free now, although that in reality is not practiced for various reasons, the main one being that there are too many doctors who are underpaid and thus request cash handouts from their patients. You can also buy antibiotics at any pharmacy, assuming they stock the brand you want, without needing a prescription. Now that can be dangerous if you have allergies to such medications that you don’t know about—this problem happened with my wife for instance a few years back. But generally you can receive very good health care at bargain prices compared with costs in the US for the same treatment, inferior in my case, as I never saw anyone other than a nurse who took my blood pressure and temperature. It’s another plus for choosing to live in Armenia.

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Blogger nazarian said...
You might have forgotten this but in the US you get good healthcare if you have insurance (or from the upper crust of the society).

No insurance means that the system only makes sure that you don't die in their facility. There have been cases shown on TV when patients, once stabilized, were dumped on the street, usually outside the walking distance to the hospital.

With all the conservative rant about 'welfare people' (namely people of darker skin color) sucking on the tit of the government will definitely make things worse.

Blogger Ara said...
Get well soon.

Anonymous Knarik O. Meneshian said...
In Armenia, if you are one of the local folks, including the elderly, with no income or very little income, you will never get the kind of medical care you have received there, including medicine. Here, (in the U.S.) at least, one is not turned away because they are poor or old, and there is free medicine for those who can't afford it. In other words, there is help. Yes, sometimes, emergency room waits can be very, very lengthy, but you are eventually seen.

Anonymous Onnik Krikorian said...
Only 1 in 3 Armenians seem medical care in Armenia because of the poor quality of services and the high informal payments demanded. The system is in shreds and few with experience of it have any confidence in the medical system in Armenia.

Sometimes I think that hospitals are more health hazards than anything that's gonna help you when you need it. I've had too many bad experiences with the health system here, ashas almost everyone I know, that it's the last place I'd go except in an extreme emergency for want of anywhere else.

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