I’ll Have the Lamb Soup…and an Ambulance

It was near the end of a very long day. We had just finished driving over 500 miles across four countries (in a single day) when we stopped for dinner at Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia. Chandra and I were traveling along with my brother and two of our friends on an epic week-long road trip across the Western Balkans. Our aggressive driving schedule didn’t leave much down time and Trebinje isn’t really a hub of tourism infrastructure. Communication with the waitress wasn’t easy and as a result we got into a bit of an altercation over a what we ordered. My brother was mostly the target of this due to an unfortunate error on his part where he nearly ordered a full kilo of lamb meat just for himself. We rectified the problem but couldn’t help but feel there was some remaining hostility from the waitress. No matter – it had been a long day and it was time to have some soup.

My brother driving in Bosnia before falling violently ill

My brother driving in Bosnia before falling violently ill

After leaving Trebinje we continued onward to Kotor in Montenegro where we stayed the night and then the following day drove to Dubrovnik and onward to Split in Croatia. By the time we reached Dubrovnik, my brother was already not feeling well. In Split, it was clear something was wrong. It sounded like food poisoning but we had all eaten the same things for the past several days. That’s when we remembered back to Trebinje. As we went around the table ordering soups to start off our meal we all had the chicken. Except my brother. He had the lamb soup. A poor choice.

Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia

Kosuta Restaurant in Trebinje, Bosnia

This is basically what we ate for every meal on this trip

This is basically what we ate for every meal on this trip

At this point, my brother was basically bed-ridden in Split. We stayed as long as possible the following day to allow for him to recover but eventually we needed to continue onward to Zagreb. We estimated the drive will take us four hours but soon found ourselves driving over a mountain range and through a blizzard. About 30km from Zagreb, my brother took a turn for the worse and we had to pull over so he could be very sick on the side of the road. Gross.

My brother trying to hold it together in Split, Croatia

My brother trying to hold it together in Split, Croatia

Finally back in Zagreb, we stumbled into a a medical clinic around the corner from the Sheraton Hotel. I’m focusing on just keeping my brother standing upright and the woman at the hospital is telling me that he can’t come inside because we need to go to a larger facility elsewhere in the city. As if on cue, he begins violently throwing up and we are invited in.

A sickly brother en route from Split to Zagreb

A sickly brother en route from Split to Zagreb

My brother was in rough shape. Extremely dehydrated and barely able to have a conversation. Despite his fever, his hands and feet were freezing and all he could do was curl up on the bed and try not to be sick. He was in pain so the doctors gave him something for pain. He was feeling nauseous so they gave him something for that too. One injection they gave him right in the butt. You should have seen his face. We actually all had a good laugh at that one – including the doctors.

Getting re-hydrated at the clinic in Zagreb

Getting re-hydrated at the clinic in Zagreb

We were later moved from the clinic to a larger hospital facility in central Zegreb by ambulance. I rode next to my brother in the ambulance with him asleep. At the main hospital we were provided an English speaking doctor who did a full exam including blood pressure, blood work, etc. My brother was diagnosed with an acute gastrointestinal infection and dehydration. The doctors gave him some medicine and re-hydrated him with multiple saline IV bags. They asked us to stay the night but we had a plane to catch the next day and opted not to.

Having a snooze in a Zagreb ambulance

Having a snooze in a Zagreb ambulance

Although you never want to end up in a hospital either at home or abroad, the medical care my brother received in Croatia was excellent. They treated him well and treated him fast and between all the exams, multiple doctors, various medicines, transport by ambulance, blood work and consultations the total cost was a mere 400 Croatian Kunar. $70 American dollars! I couldn’t believe how cheap it was for that much treatment. What is wrong with our country?

Enjoying his private room and a bag of saline at Zagreb Central Hospital

Enjoying his private room and a bag of saline at Zagreb Central Hospital

When my brother was finished with his IV the nurse even called us a taxi that came right up to the ambulance bay and took us straight to where we were staying in Ban Jelačić Square. Overall we were both pleasantly surprised with the medical care in Croatia. Have you ever had a medical emergency while traveling? Tell us about the experience in the comments.

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