Need medical care abroad? Don’t panic!

Getting sick? It happens to the best of us. I don’t know about you but I’m the type of person that still gets my mum or dad to book my doctors appointments, but whilst travelling that’s a little bit tricky and you have to do it yourself. I’ve never been a big fan of going to the doctors probably like the rest of you however, I made a bad decision about a week ago. I had a spot like lump come up on my knee but thought not a lot of it. I suffered from boils back in the U.K so just presumed it was another one and it would go with time. Unfortunately, I was wrong and over the course of the week it gradually got worse and I was soon in so much pain I couldn’t walk and had to cancel work.

My knee had swollen to twice the size in just a week and it was really bruised. Luckily in Cairns there’s a 24/7 clinic not so far from where I’m staying. After a 45 minute wait the doctor took one look at my knee and told me that it was a staph infection (staphylococcus aureus) which is a common type of bacteria that lives on skin and inside our noses. Normally this bacteria isn’t harmful but if it manages to enter your body through a cut or graze it can have serious consequences. The most common outcome is a boil or abscess, but more severe cases can lead to MRSA or blood poisoning. I’m familiar with the staph infection as I’ve had boils before. He gave me a pack of antibiotics and some brufen (Ibuprofen) for the swelling. I’m now thankfully on the mend but if I had of left it any longer it could have been a lot worse.

Living in the tropics bacteria thrives because of the amount we sweat. I’ve been told this by many people up here that if you get a cut to cover it and care for it. Cuts get infected and out of hand very quickly because of the heat. My advice to everyone that qualifies is to get MEDICARE! My trip to the doctors was free thanks to medicare and I only had the cost of my prescription to pay for which was only $30. $15 each for the brufen and antibiotics. Also to also have travel insurance because you never know what could happen while travelling. It’s better to pay a small fee for travel insurance rather than be in debt the rest of your life paying off medical bills. Look after yourselves backpackers!

To apply for MEDICARE go to your local Centrelink, It only takes about an hour depending on wait time. You fill out a form and wait to be seen. You’ll receive your medicare card in the post in a few weeks.

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