FunkTravels Expat Living Izmir Turkey

EXPAT LIVING: 5 steps to help you when the unexpected happened

Most people hate adulting.

However, I kinda like the challenge of it. I enjoy being independent, making decision, moving to another country, traveling…. My husband and I like coming together to figure out what dreams we want to pursue and how we can make those dreams happen together (even though it’s not always easy!). It is fair to say that my life has been somewhat easy and I believe that God has protected me from a lot. Even then, adulthood is not really about easy or hard… it just is part of life.

Recently, I had some health issues. It was one that actually required us to have surgery. In the states or your home country, a native has years of knowledge and context built up in order to make a good medical decision.

But as an expat in a foreign country ….with foreign language ….with foreign medical systems… We had a lot of questions floating around our heads for a month.

    1. Do we wait?
    2. Do we do the surgery?
    3. How bad is it really?
    4. What if we waited?
    5. What are other problems lurking around in there?
    6. Is the hospital we chose good?
    7. Is the health care sufficient?
    8. What will insurance cover?
    9. How much money does it cost here?
    10. etc, etc, etc???

Sometimes you have so many questions that you aren’t sure where to start. But since we had so many answers to seek out and we were able to, we waited. But instead of being idle, we waiting actively.

Here are 5 ways to help you  when you have to make decisions about the unexpected.

  1. Talk with your global insurance company – Like most other full-time expats, we have a global insurance. Our company already has an established relationship with the hospital near us. (Unfortunately, it took 3 visits to finally get it all sorted out.) Our company has been great to work with and has taken care of extra logistics/reports directly with the hospital.  We found out that our insurance provides extra services for expats to help them make the best decision.
  2. Ask for a second opinion – Unfortunately, we had heard here that a lot of doctors do unnecessary surgery just for the extra money.  We went to one of the best hospitals in our area, and felt it unnecessary to go to another hospital. However, our insurance provide a 2nd opinion via their services. Not just 1 doctor, but 3 doctors reviewed our case and helped talk through what could be done in our native language
  3. Research – I had heard about my cyst before, but I really was not overly familiar. As I didn’t have the normal systems, I didn’t know how important it would be to jump into surgery. (We were on a time crunch since we are leaving to travel for 2 months this summer.) So take some time and just google about your systems, the medicine, suggested protocols for how to deal with your diagnosis…. There are so many videos out there of medical experts that simply explain a problem and talk through solutions.
  4. Seek advice from other locals, expats, and friends back home – I am an experience information gatherer. I will buy products and change lifestyle choices because of how others. This was no different. Ask other expat about their local experiences with doctors and surgery. I have found that most people are happy to share and help others!
  5. Pray – Not religious? Neither am I. But I believe in a living and loving God who created me and wants good things for me. Because of that, I prayed a lot and we had a whole group of people praying as well! Maybe you don’t believe that, but do you know others who do? From my experience, those who do pray want to know how to prayer for others. And what could it hurt to have others praying for wisdom, health, and healing?

While these tips may not be new to you, they may help give you someplace to start if you are just paralyzed by how to make a decision. Expat living is challenging enough, but having to make medical decision in that environment as well can seem defeating. But be strong, push through fear, and figure out what will work for you!



Questions for our readers:

Are you an expat? Have you had surgery in a foreign country before?

If so, how did it go?

What story or tips can you share about your medical experience in a foreign country?