Two hospitals in Port Shepstone
The Drakensberg Mountains are stunning. One of the oldest mountain ranges in Africa, they take your breath away as you see them come shooting up out of the ground into the sky. The Amphitheatre Guesthouse looks directly at the mountain range and it was there that Claire and I stayed for a few nights. During our stay we’d been to visit nearby Lesotho and spent time reading and staring at the mountains in the distance and I’d also managed to watch some of the opening games of the new Premier League season. I’d also been getting headaches, for which I had been given some herbs by a local healer from Lesotho, though I hadn’t yet tried them out. So, when we left the mountains and made it back to the coast at Port Shepstone, we decided it was best to go to the hospital so I could get checked out.
We arrived at the public hospital and within minutes I was sitting with a nurse. She took my blood pressure and looked at my blood sugar levels whilst I told her about my headaches. After she’d checked me over I was told to sit and wait for the doctor. Moments later I was stood talking to the doc. A friendly man, he had just got off the phone with my insurance company and came to see how I was. Again I told him about my headaches and he asked me why I was at his hospital. I looked at him confused and asked why not? He said that if I had insurance, which I did, then I should go to the nearby private hospital where the results to the tests would be quicker. He said that it sounded like I had malaria and therefore a blood test would be required. “If you go there,” he said, “then you can get your blood test results back quickly. If you get them done here, then you will have to wait about eight hours.”
That made our minds up and minutes later Claire and I had walked the short distance up the road to the private hospital. This hospital was so different to the public one we’d just been to. There were pristine marble floors and nice comfy chairs in the empty waiting room, and the whole place just felt incredibly clean, compared to the cluttered public hospital. I was sent over to a bed where the doctor would come and see me. He was not working and had to be called in which meant that we’d have to pay for his services. Whilst I was waiting for him they carried out a blood test which we had to pay for using Claire’s card. It was a rather surreal feeling sitting on a hospital bed and being handed a card machine to make a payment. We took a picture to commemorate the bizarre nature of having to pay before they could take blood.
In the end the test results came back negative and the doctor didn’t have a clue what was wrong with me. This was sort of good news, as it meant I didn’t have malaria. However, it was also a bit worrying as we still didn’t know why I was getting continual headaches and weird sensations. All of the staff at the hospital were very friendly though. Especially the two nurses who were very impressed when I tried some of my Zulu on them. When I thanked them in Zulu they both looked at me wide eyed and mouths open in shock. For a second I was worried I’d said something offensive, but then they just burst out laughing and asked me where I learnt Zulu.
We left the hospital hoping that the headaches would simply go away on their own and made our way back to the guesthouse we were staying at. We spent two nights in Port Shepstone, spending the next day doing very little. The rain was coming down pretty hard outside, so Claire and I spent plenty of time reading and watching TV with guys who ran the guesthouse. There was also a little bar area with a table tennis table and a pool table, so we played a fair few games.
Whilst staying at the backpackers Claire and I met Shaun and Jamie. Shaun was from South Africa and was driving to Cape Town, taking a similar route to Claire and me. Jamie, who was from England, was also backpacking through South Africa and had managed to hitch a ride with Shaun for the last few days. Both were great fun and we exchanged details with Jamie who, it turned out, was scheduled to be on the same flight home as us.
We awoke after our second night ready to leave and drive down the coast to Coffee Bay. However, before setting off we stood at the bottom of the garden that looked out over the ocean. In amongst the waves we were lucky enough to watch a group of whales splashing about. Not a bad start to the day.