Cycling the Atlantic coast of Europe from north to south during the summer of 2017. View the archive, the route so far, or donate to MSF.

EHIC to the rescue

By Stuart Lowe on

I have a head cold and an itchy rash on my feet, legs, and arms. :(

I probably need to find a public health centre (EHIC) but can't navigate I'm in Viveiro.

I took an antihistamine last night but it hasn't helped.


I'm hoping it is hives from the exertion of the past three days.

I visited the local public health centre. Quite understandably, nobody really spoke English (or French). Google translate was our friend.

I'm glad I had my EHIC card with me. The only confusion was my US travel visa as it looks like a photo page so they thought I was American.

But we managed to clear that up and get to the right page in my passport showing I was from the EU.

I joined a queue to see a doctor. I only had to wait 10 minutes. She prescribed an injection and some antihistamines for the next 5 days.

I then went downstairs where I was given two injections in my buttocks. It was Urbason. The second was quite painful and I got lightheaded

The second doctor checked my blood pressure and I had a rest for a few minutes. She told me to take some juice or coffee with sugar.

It is quite scary getting treatment when you can't really communicate because you don't know the language and people don't know yours.

But credit to the Spanish health service for seeing to me quickly, professionally, and kindly. You realise how lucky we are in Europe.

My EHIC card means the only cost to me was Euro 4.40 for the prescription. They also told me to rest as the pills would make me drowsy.

So I checked into a cheap hotel. I'm going to eat and rest. Hopefully the rash will go down.

All this is a reminder of the important care the folks at @MSF_uk provide to those in much harder situations