Lindsay Myron
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I've Never Been More Afraid of Pigs

December 6, 2009 @ 8:51 PM | Permalink

Three days before I’m scheduled to leave Mongolia and I’m feeling the pains of departure in my heart … and my throat and my head and my ears?  To the gods of wherever, please don’t let me have a fever.  As much as I’ve come to love this country, I’ve got a connecting flight in Beijing en route to Germany and the last thing I want to think about is H1N1. 

My academic director graciously pays me a midnight visit with brightly colored lozenges and a gargling potion in hand hoping to ease my concerns.  But alas, 100.94.  Uh oh.

Mongolia’s emergency medical facilities are, let’s say, still developing and it’s unlikely that you’ll get to see a doctor if you just show up, especially as a foreigner.  The S.O.S. emergency care promises better chances, but for a $400 bill I’m wasn’t inclined. So we call all the nearest hospitals and private doctors looking for anyone willing to see me. 

“We can see you in four days,” they say.  Um, no.

Finally we land a doctor in a nearby hospital for 45,000 tugrug or about $30.  We pull up to the darkened building, enter through the double doors beneath a flickering fluorescent light and sit in the dark waiting room.  A large white door opens and a nurse in scrubs and a red sweater ushers me in.  An old woman is lying on the only bed in the tall, pale room and I’m directed to sit on the bench.  A few questions later, the woman is escorted into a back room and I replace the warm ghost she left on the bed.

He takes my temperature, pulse and blood pressure and asks, “Have your feet been cold recently?”

“Yes.” I said.  This is Mongolia, I thought.  The average temperature this month has been -20C, of course my feet have been cold. 

He feels my throat, presses my tongue down and peers in with a flashlight.  Returning to his desk he says “the good news is your lungs are clear: no swine flu.  The bad news is you have tonsillitis.”


He prescribes me three pills, a pre-fab gargling potion, a pill to which I’m supposed to crush and have blown into the back of my throat (oh boy!) and some mustard powder to apply to the back of my legs.  I’m ecstatic not to have swine flu and I’ll do anything to not get quarantined, so I gladly accept the prescription and head to the nearest drug store.

After the H1N1 state of emergency that Mongolia entered on November 4, a number of businesses closed their doors at 9pm.  That restriction has been lifted in the past couple days, but a few 24hour pharmacies hadn’t gotten the memo, apparently.  Third time’s the charm.  We find an open pharmacy and retrieve my emergency meds for a mere 9000 tugrug. 

I return home to gargle what looks like iodine,  swallow three horse pills and have a fourth blown into my throat. 

Tomorrow is the day of truth.  If I succeed I’ll be eating hasenpfeffer in Berlin.  If I fail, well, wish me luck.


Posted on 12/06/2009 by

Matthew Hintsa

Matthew Hintsa

Ouch. Not a fun way to finish off the semester. Get well soon and safe travels; look forward to seeing you back on the hill next month!

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Lindsay, Enjoyed the woven threads of humanity in the family lesson on telling time. Thanks for sharing. TIm

Tim Matthews on Nomads Give New Meaning to the Cuckoo Clock 2009-11-03

Ouch. Not a fun way to finish off the semester. Get well soon and safe travels; look forward to seeing you back on the hill next month!

Matthew Hintsa on I've Never Been More Afraid of Pigs 2009-12-06

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