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Meds - stolen on holiday! A story for you all...

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Hey all,

So I figured I would share a little story just to put the frighteners on you all, but don't worry, it ends alright... This happened to me a few weeks ago, on holiday in Spain.

Waiting in the airport car park for my boyfriend to get the hire car, I'm standing by the luggage. When he gets back, I look down, and realise my backpack that was at my feet, is missing. The suitcase and everything else is there. Cue huge surging sense of panic. Guess what - I'd packed my meds for the holiday in my hand luggage, the backpack. And now it, my passport, ipod and everything - gone!

I'd brought my meds in my hand luggage as I was worried incase the airline lost my suitcase. And also, last holiday stuff had been stolen from my check-in luggage! So I can't catch a break. Respect to the thieves though - no idea how they did it. And fortunately I still had my phone and wallet in my pocket.

Anyway, I am properly panicking, the bf doesn't quite "get" why I would be so worried. Well, obviously I can get away with missing one dose but any more than that and I'm stuffed. I'm thinking I'd need to get the next flight home or something.

I run back to the main airport terminal, find the guardia civil, who really don't give a crap, eventually find a bored policeman, who reluctantly decides to let me file a report even though he doesn't think they can identify the thieves. Which is fair enough, as in Spain people get pick pocketed all the frikkin' time, and I'm hugely cross and upset with myself for letting it happen to me. Anyway, I write down on the report all the stuff that was nicked, plus I write down "medication", and get a couple of copies of the report.

I also manage to convey in broken half-English half-Spanish to the police officer that the reason I am in such a flap is because my medication was stolen - which I say I need to take daily, for my heart (hey, it's a lie, but it got the point across that it was important). Understanding and taking pity on me, he helps find the nearest hospitals on the internet, and says he hopes they can help me out there.

Ok, so I return to the bf, we get in the hire car and drive to the city to the hospital. We walk past the Pharmacy, and I explain that I have been robbed and need Atripla - can they make that for me? Fortunately, this is a BIG city hospital, the man understands the medication brand (I wrote it on a bit of paper), but explains I need to get a doctor's prescription - obviously, but I was still a bit panicked and not thinking properly. So off we go to A&E. After a short queue, I explain to the woman at the desk that I have HIV, and showing her my police report, that my medication was stolen - she nods, and I take a ticket number, and wait to be called. The bf goes off to get a strong coffee in a nearby cafe!

Anyway, after a short wait, I get to see a doctor, I explain my predicament. She is sympathetic but explains they can only give me enough for a day, and I can keep coming back in if I need it during the holiday. I explain that we are staying an hour or two down the coast, in a small village, with no hospital - I need a week's supply, or I basically am flying home. She suggests I may just have to fly home. I begin to beg with the woman, as I have only just arrived in the country and I'll have to turn around and fly back! She says she will see what she can do, and walks off with the police form and I take a seat to wait again.

After a nervous half an hour waiting, she returns, and presents me with a week's supply of Atripla, and sternly advises (in that way doctor's do!) that I take care not to get robbed again! She wishes me well and I thank her effusively. I also almost forget to take my copy of the police report, which I'll need later to get an emergency passport...

Anyway, long story short, after a very upsetting few hours, I got some replacement meds and we were on our way properly. I have to say I was very lucky - I was in a big Western city, I got the police report I needed immediately (and though I wasn't specific in naming the medication stolen on the report, the official report itself and my panicked face seemed genuine enough when at the hospital!). I also think I am lucky as I am a UK citizen, and we have reciprocal healthcare agreements in the European Union so I could get meds in Spain. Otherwise, I suspect health insurance would have come into play. Also I was surprised I wasn't charged at all, though I am sure in some file somewhere the UK government has been billed for me needing HIV meds - so what. In the end, I actually think it was a quicker process overall than certain times when I was at home in the UK using the National Health Service!

Anyway, thinks worked out alright (though the books I wanted to read on holiday were stolen, ARGH!) but it really did make me realise my vulnerability in a way I hadn't really appreciated before. Moral of story: pack spare meds in both your checked-in luggage and carry-on luggage, in case one goes astray. I do normally do this, which is why I was so angry with myself for getting into this horrible situation! And if the worse comes to worse, get the official police report, and head to 24 hour A&E. I couldn't have got anything without the report, and I'm glad we headed to the biggest hospital first. In the end, no real harm done, and I enjoyed the holiday, but hopefully you can take something from this small misadventure. It also helps to have someone with you staying calm throughout... I did buy him a drink later! :P

I think I'll wear my meds in one of those under-the-garment cases once through security which is what I do with my passport, cash, and cards, etc. -- good warning story!!

Miss Philicia:

--- Quote from: lost_boy on November 01, 2012, 04:54:55 PM ---
Anyway, I am properly panicking, the bf doesn't quite "get" why I would be so worried. Well, obviously I can get away with missing one dose but any more than that and I'm stuffed. I'm thinking I'd need to get the next flight home or something.

--- End quote ---

Not sure what you mean here. You're on Atripla. I'll assume you don't have multi-class resistance. So you stop meds for your vacation and miss a week, sure you may develop resistance issues but that's not a given. And anyway, resistance doesn't equal "out of options" by any stretch much less OMGIMMAGONNADIE. Now, if you had multi-class resistance and were on Fuzeon and it was your last regimen option available then yes, I'd freak out. But otherwise I wouldn't let it ruin my vacation.

However, I would call my doctor as soon as I returned and asked how he wanted me to proceed.


--- Quote ---Anyway, I am properly panicking, the bf doesn't quite "get" why I would be so worried. Well, obviously I can get away with missing one dose but any more than that and I'm stuffed. I'm thinking I'd need to get the next flight home or something.
--- End quote ---

I hope you understand that the bolded part of this sentence is untrue. Please heed Miss Philicia's excellent advice.

Gee you old timers are kind of cavalier.  I think if I arrived on a one week holiday and my HAART disappeared, I wouldn't enjoy my holiday. I mean my current combo is working, why would I want to risk it by saying oh well, one week holiday and maybe I'll have to change combos, maybe I won't.  There are lots of other combos in a worst case scenario that I have to change. "But the holiday is more important..."  Not.  I would at least give it a try to replace them, as this OP did, and succeeded.

Not to brag about how good we have it in Europe. But.... This has happened to me France, 2x, and in Germany 1x. Bad accident, gone to clinic or hospital, got patched up, and no freaking bill.  FREE!!!! 

By the way, the squeaky wheel gets the grease.  And the OP squeaked and got the grease he needed.  Why should we just shrug our shoulders and assume nothing is possible???  Many times, people will help a foreigner solve a crisis, if you insist politely enough. 


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