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Indonesia seems to be hitting the cruisers rather hard.  While many have come down with occasional cases of “Bali belly”, others have had more serious issues.  I woke up one morning in Pasarwajo with some troubling symptoms – not debilitating, but concerning.

The first thing we did was WebMD the symptoms, and I was feeling pretty comfortable that it was a bacterial infection.  We had two choices: the first was to delay our two-day sail from Pasarwajo to Labuan Bajo and take a car to the nearest hospital in Bau-bau; the second was to self-medicate underway and go to the hospital in Labuan Bajo.

I chose the second option and felt even better in my decision after speaking with another cruiser who is an MD.  I pulled out our well-stocked medical kit and reviewed my options for antibiotics, choosing to take amoxicillin.  It’s important to note that there a very few risks with taking an antibiotic.  If I was contemplating self-medicating with an opioid, for instance, it might have been a completely different discussion.

Photo creds to Siloam Hospital.

When we arrived in Labuan Bajo on August 29th we went straight to the hospital.  Labuan Bajo has a Siloam Hospital, a chain of hospitals in Indonesia.  We went into the Emergency Room and checked in. I waited about 10 minutes, occasionally being called up to the desk to fill out paperwork before I was brought into the exam room.

The doctor spoke accented English, but his English was very good.  He performed a physical exam and ordered lab work to be done. I walked through the hospital to the laboratory and noticed that most people came into the main reception of the hospital, including a few people who were clearly tourists.

When I arrived back at the emergency room, all the tourists were there instead of in the main facility.  I would guess that the emergency room’s staff spoke better English than the main staff.  While waiting for the results, I overheard two tourists talking: “…if it’s really bad you’ll have to fly to Singapore for treatment.”

When my results were finished the doctor saw me again, confirmed the diagnosis and said that I’d done well self-medicating with the amoxicillin.  He commented that in Indonesia they prescribe amoxicillin in 50 mg tablets instead of the 250 mg tablets that I had, so they typically prescribe other antibiotics instead.  I was instructed to finish my bottle, and the doctor gave me a prescription for another antibiotic (ciprofloxacin, also one I have in the med kit) if the symptoms returned.

Costs for Emergency Room Visit:

  • Administration fees:  15,000 Rp ($1 USD)
  • Consultation and doctor visit: 650,000 ($42.70)
  • Prescriptions: 50,000 ($3.30)
  • Lab work: 100,000 ($6.57)
  • Total:  815,000 ($53.70)

Why did I get sick?  It’s hard to know for sure, but we have observed that cleanliness standards in Indonesia are not very high – from hand washing to food preparation, there is a lot to be desired.

I took all my pills and have been healthy ever since!

8 Comments

  1. Thank goodness, you had a friend who was a doctor and advised you to take the Antibiotics, and well done for carrying what seems like a well stocked, for any mishap, First Aid Kit.
    I seriously look forward to your sailing videos, you two have a very pleasant, quiet calm way of putting information across to us. I am now 61yrs old with some disabilities, and had to hang up my skippers cap some years ago when I sailed out of Inverkip marina on the west coast of Scotland. So, I look back with fond memories to sailing.

    Thank you.

  2. Thankfully you are fine now, Amy. After these several years it would be a true disaster to be beaten by a microscope bug. You have mentioned your med kit a few times and with the need for a prescription antibiotic it occurred to me how do you get prescription drugs to fill an onboard kit? Is there some special dispensation for cruisers to be allowed to purchase and store those types of medicines without an ongoing need and for potential requirement? Whatever the case it is great you had an antibiotic on board and was judicially able to self treat using internet tools. Thank you for the great videos of your trip to western Australia, they are fantastic as are all you guys publish. Have a safe sail to Singapore and watch out for pirates around the straits.

    1. Thanks Floyd. In the US, all you have to do is find a Dr who is willing to write the prescription. We just happen to have a sailor PCP back home who was very understanding about our needs.

  3. Oh wow! So glad you had the antibiotic on board, had access to the web and could confer with an MD on the trip. The cost of your care is amazing! I am glad you are feeling better. Hope you are having a great time. Hugs.

  4. Omigod don’t scare me like that! I thought you were going to say you lost a limb or something! The suspense was killing me!!!!!

    Glad you’re okay. Hope it’s all gone by now 🙂

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