Medical Odyssey

escher-like stairs

Some bits here on my odyssey of getting help here in Australia while trying to battle a cold as I travel around…

  • I felt a sore throat coming on the day after I arrived, at the Melbourne Airport, on my way to Tasmania. I know my signs, and its not suprising my immune system had its force fields down
  • In Tassie, hosts Jo and Nick provided lots of vitamin C, aspirin, tea. I got some good rest. Running 6 miles Saturday was likely not a good idea, though I felt better. It got worst as the weekend rolled by, and my first presentation was Mr Husky Voice.
  • On to Melbourne, not much better. I had to stay up a bit late doing my prep work. The presentation went okay, but voice was pretty raspy. Trying over the counter betadine, Difflam Spray, strepcils
  • Was optimistic for a days rest, passed on the evening festivities with colleagues in Melbourne, hopeful for a days rest on travel to Sydney. More cough medicine, lozenges. Leaving Melbourne airport, the woman in the chemists hinted I really needed a doctor; there was actually one there at the airport, but no time to stop.
  • Get to Sydney, do venue set up, meet with CLI group *yum they got me a hot toddy). I decided to have the hotel arrange a doctor visit to my room. The doc listens to my chest, takes a few notes, says it is likely viral and my body needs rest to fight it off. He gives a antibiotic, a small jug of codeine cough syrup to help sleep. I am coughing so much at night, even with this, that I am getting little sleep. Somehow the presentation in Sydney goes great. This doc was not cheap ($430 for the visit plus meds!)
  • On the road to Canberra, more strepcils, etc. Fortunately its not cold there. Another raspy voice presentation, and barely manage to get through nice dinner with hosts.
  • Next, maybe some recovery in Adelaide? Its really warm when I land Saturday. But wow, is that cough bad. Maybe 3 solid hours of sleep the night before. Am able to drag myself out for hike with Mike C and dinner with Mike and Graham W. A terrible nights sleep.
  • Now it is time to track down the Sydney doc and see if he can send a new scrip. The hotel did not provide a contact, so I called them back. I explained the whol thing and the woman finally said, “I need to transfer you to Reception.” The phone rang and rang. Failing that, I had a number when I checked out for the doctor’s answering service. Called them. They said the doc would call back. I explain that things are still bad; he agrees to fax a prescription to my hotel, a stronger cough medicine and an inhaler to help with the cough. Great! I get the fax, and get walking directions to the nearest open “chemist” (equivalent to pharmacy)


  • Now it gets fun. I thought I was home free. I handed my scrip to the lady behind the counter and she gives it to a middle aged man (the chemist! the chemist!). My starts shaking his head. He comes froward quickly and seems pissed off, “I cannot do this! I need an original receipt! The state refuses me to dispense this kind of medicine with an out of state prescription.” Why is this guy yelling at me? “I am sick I explained, I traveled a long way to visit Australia, and I need some help. I have to speak tomorrow to a group of 100 educators? What can you do?” He scowls and says, “You need to see a local doctor.” I am confused, “So I have to pay another $200 to see a doctor to rewrite a prescriptions? I am sorry, I do not understand the system, but do not appreciate being treated rudely.” I begin to leave. The woman in the store, with perhaps a bit more sensitivity, writes down the name an address of a nearby walk in clinic.
  • So now I am outside walking down North Terrace trying to wave down a cab. Not much luck until about 10 minutes later. This nice young guy drives me to the spot, and even offers to wait (off meter). Now at the clinic, I feel lucky as no one is waiting. The woman behind the counter explains I will have to pay $70 (that’s a bargain!). In about 15 minutes, this new doc is seeing me. He writes a new cough medicine script and suggests a stronger antibiotic. Then he says, “I want you to take these pills, once a day next 2 days, then half a pill after that” he puts in a little plastic jar. There is no identification at all on the Magic Pills. I like this! I believe in magic pills. A few years ago echineaca had this placebo effect on ridding colds.
    • So my cab was still waiting, and he drove me back to the Grumpy Chemist. On the way, the driver told me his girlfriend wished he had a cold every day because she found his rough voice “sexy.”
    • So back at the chemist, I had Mr Smiley the new scrips and say, “Can you fill these ones, please?” No sense pissing him off. He is after all bottling things I will put in my mouth. I have read stories about those disgruntled fast food workers blowing their noses on the cops’ hamburgers.
    • So now I have the new cadre of drugs, and am back in my hotel room.
  • Magic Pills

    Hope this is the road to recovery. Now about that presentation tomorrow… where did I leave those slides?


One thought on “Medical Odyssey

  1. Healthcare in Oz really isn’t usually this complicated, and most of the chemists I know are really helpful. You struck us in the middle of a flu epidemic – everyone seems to have had it, just a pity to get it as a visitor.

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