It Felt Like A Scratch

May 22, 2020

It was a typical day for Aviva S. The New York resident and her husband Peter R., avoid the New York winters with an extended stay in Panama. As she was walking to her yoga class, she stopped to feed her friend’s dogs while they were out of town.

“They left the dog food out on their porch in a cooler. There were a couple of stray dogs hanging around and I made the mistake of trying to feed their dogs anyway,” Aviva recalled. “One of the feral dogs bit me on the back of my leg. It felt like a scratch and I didn’t think much of it. I even continued walking to my yoga class. But when I went in the restroom to clean off the blood, I realized, whoa, I’m not going to yoga.”

Dog bites are a typical risk for international travelers. Aviva immediately went to a local clinic in Panama.

“The doctor cleaned the wound, asked a bunch of questions and prescribed antibiotics,” Aviva said. “She said that they usually don’t like to put any stitches in a dog bite wound, but it was so deep she felt it required one stitch.”

Aviva had plans to travel to Costa Rica for a family beach vacation and a stitch meant keeping the wound completely dry.

“I followed all of her advice — cleaning it and changing the bandage, no swimming, keeping it dry — and went back in 10 days.” she said. “I didn’t like the way it was healing and I could tell when I took off the bandage, she didn’t like how it was healing either. But all she did was tell me to start cleaning it twice a day and she would not take out the stitch.”

Wound care continued in Costa Rica. Aviva checked in with a local clinic and a second doctor removed the stitch and excised the wound, “really cleaned it out,” she said. But the wound was healing so slowly that Aviva still worried about the next leg of her trip to a remote mountain area.

“It wasn’t getting worse, but it wasn’t getting better,” Aviva said. “The bite was so wide and deep that it wasn’t healing. My husband and I were concerned about what kind of medical care I could get so far from the city if I needed it.”

Aviva dog bite

That was when Peter remembered their membership with Global Rescue.

They had originally purchased the policy for a 60th birthday celebration for Tour du Mont Blanc, a 10-day hike around the highest mountain in the Alps and kept the membership for Peter’s vacation travels “to all these remote places where the only way out would be by helicopter,” Aviva said. “I wasn’t even thinking about the fact that Global Rescue also offered a medical consultation service. I always thought of the membership for helicopter emergencies.”

Peter sent a message to Global Rescue requesting a second opinion.

“They checked my antibiotics, asked a whole bunch of questions about my health and the care I received,” Aviva said.

After reviewing her medical history and photos of the wound, the Global Rescue medical operations team provided a bulleted list of wound warning signs.

“I was to get care immediately if it changed color, had an odor, or felt warm to the touch, but fortunately my wound did none of that, or anything else on their list,” she said.

Global Rescue remained on standby for seven weeks — throughout the couple’s travels in Costa Rica and Panama and throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

“Because we were traveling, I sent a photo every couple of days. I always heard back right away. I never had to wait long at all for advice,” she said. “I also updated Global Rescue on our travel plans — where I was and where I was heading next. Global Rescue provided information on local clinics, sending me the directions, website and all the contact information I would need. They were unbelievable, always one step ahead of me and my thinking.”

The wound healed slowly, but it did finally heal.

“I would have been concerned about going to such remote places in the tropics without the confidence that Global Rescue’s physicians were reachable, helpful and aware of all the medical resources I might need and able to advise me in case of emergency,” Aviva said. “It was reassuring to know, in a foreign country, these clinics have been examined, evaluated and would meet expectations.”

Aviva has been sharing her Global Rescue experience with friends and family in New York and Panama.

“Even if you don’t need a helicopter to take you out of a remote area, it’s just so reassuring to have a Global Rescue membership. I was extremely happy with the care I received.”

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