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In a few days, I’ll be headed off on a ski trip. While I’m super excited to go and to cross off an item on my bucket list, I can’t help but remember the last time I went skiing in Europe. When I tell people I went skiing in Slovakia and then tell them I ended up in the hospital, they immediately assume that I broke something, or injured something. But nothing like that happened (sorry, I tricked you!). I ended up in a hospital in Slovakia for much different reasons.
The trip to Zdiar was long but uneventful. We arrived in the hostel, went frolicking in the snow and I had a little nap before dinner. After dinner, I started feeling uncomfortably warm and I really wanted a glass of water. I remember trying to flag down someone for a glass of water to no avail, so I decided to go to the bar and get one myself. Except, I never made it to the bar. I was almost there when my vision started blurring and that is really all that I remember.
From what they told me, I fell over sideways and hit my head first on a table and then on the ground. I must have come to pretty quickly because I remember opening my eyes and someone I didn’t know looking at me in confusion. Someone asked if I was okay and instinctively, I said yes. I must have gotten up and then fainted again, because the next thing I knew I was sitting on a chair and my friends were gathered around me trying to wake me up. They told me that someone had caught me the second time I fell over.
I felt nauseous, utterly confused as to how I ended up there. I wanted to vomit and I was feeling disgusting. The room was too warm and it was too loud. Everyone was staring at me. Everyone was talking about me as if I wasn’t there. It was uncomfortable and I just wanted it to stop.
There was a bit of confusion as to what to do. Zdiar is located about a 45 minute drive from Poprad which was the closest hospital. Plus it was snowing pretty heavily. Apparently there was a local doctor in the village, but he never materialized.
After what seemed like forever, an ambulance showed up. By this time I was feeling much better. Less dizzy and no longer wanting to vomit. They guided me to the ambulance and got me to sit on the stretcher. I think I was in a bit of shock because I don’t exactly remember the course of events. I know they asked me a bunch of questions about my medical history, about what I did that day, my name, where I was from. They took my blood pressure and asked if anything hurt. My head was hurting slightly so they ran an IV and gave me some sort of pain killer. Because this was the first time this has ever happened to me, they took me to the hospital.
The whole time I was in the ambulance, I was so terrified. I’m not a big fan of hospitals and I didn’t really know what was going to happen, not to mention the whole language barrier. When we got to the hospital, they wheeled me into the ER on the stretcher. I felt like I was in a TV show or something. The first thing I see? A massive blood stain on the floor of the hospital. I looked like it was dry. No idea how long it had been there. Way to inspire confidence for my visit.
They wheeled me into the back room and started doing some tests. They did a EKG, took my blood pressure again and did a general physical exam. Everything was normal. The doctor had absolutely no idea why I had fainted. I was fairly surprised at the English level of the doctors and paramedics considering I was not in a big city and pretty much in the middle of nowhere. They knew enough English to tell me what was going on and to keep me calm.
That night was a night of many firsts for me. I’ve never fainted before, never been in an ambulance, never been to the emergency room. It will definitely be an adventure to remember and a good story to tell. I’m relieved that there is nothing majorly wrong with me and that I didn’t have a concussion from hitting my head twice (though I was terrified of sleeping that night). And as a lovely memento, I had a 140 euro bill to pay off. Thank goodness for health insurance.
I’m hoping that this next trip will go without any problems. Fingers crossed!
Have you ever had to go to the hospital while you were abroad? What was it like?