I’d have to say that my largest challenges in Senegal were with the medical system. I cannot say that I have ever experienced anything more terrifying or more difficult to cope with in my entire life than being sick in a place where I was completely unfamiliar with how the system was being run around me.
During my stay there I became sick with a urinary tract infection and later on with a gastrointestinal infection.
During my first visit to a medical center on campus I was given a sticky, fuzzed over test tube to put my urine sample in. I was alright with that. I was later given medication, which ended up not curing my UTI, and so I ended up having a follow-up visit.
During my second visit to the same medical center I was given a matchbox to put a stool sample in. I was a little upset with this.
During my third visit to another medical center off-campus, in hopes of finding slightly superior service, I was thrown different pills without an explanation of what they were or what they were for. The doctor ran no tests and explained that he didn’t have any more time for me. By that point I was becoming a little more distressed.
During my fourth visit I returned to the medical center on campus which was covered by my insurance. This is where our director highly urged us to go for treatment. During this visit some more distressful events occurred, they ended up injecting me with some sort of sedative and I was brought in an ambulance to the ER in the hospital in St. Louis.
Right about there is where I feel comfortable ending my explanation of my experience with the medical system in Senegal. As I said, I spent three days in the hospital and then was flown home.
I do not believe that I coped very well with the situation at all. In fact, I wish that I had coped with it much differently. I think, had a felt more comfortable in my surroundings I would have healed much more quickly that I did. What I’m saying is that my being sick was very much enhanced by my mental state and the stress of the situation. All of my preconceptions of inadequate health care facilities in developing countries did not help me heal. And, I didn’t. After returning to the US I only spent a couple of days in the hospital after which I was released.