What It Was Like To Get Appendicitis During The Coup In Turkey

There’s getting sick while traveling overseas, a patently awful experience. Then there’s getting appendicitis while traveling overseas. And then there’s getting appendicitis while traveling overseas during a military coup. This is that story.

Aaron Spencer, a United Nations Development Programme contractor based in New York City, headed to Turkey last July to assess initiatives there and to look at the response to the refugee crisis in the region on the local level.

Two days before his scheduled flight from New York City to Istanbul, a group within the Turkish military attempted a coup d’état, with most of the related activity taking place in Istanbul and the Turkish capital of Ankara. While the attempt was largely thwarted by the end of the weekend, the country remained entangled in what the New York Times called “a witch-hunt environment” for weeks after, as President Erdogan continued to direct the arrests of soldiers, government workers, and journalists on a widespread scale. The country was under an official state of emergency when Aaron got there. And then his stomach started to hurt.

More than 5 percent of Americans will get appendicitis at some point in their lives. The odds of getting it while traveling are far lower, of course. But of the things that can go wrong while traveling, appendicitis ranks fairly high in terms of uncertainty and potential discomfort. It’s an affliction that can strike anyone, anytime. There’s no way to prevent or predict it.

I sat down with Aaron recently to talk about his experience. His takeaways? That travel insurance is a must, that knowing who your go-to contacts back home are is key, that if you find yourself in a medical bind, you should use the consular and embassy resources at your disposal, that foreign healthcare can be great, and finally, that there are silver linings that come with this kind of predicament.

Head over to Flung to read my interview with Aaron about his experience.

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