You’re my little secret, and that’s how we should keep it…

There’s a dirty little secret that nobody ever mentions when a body goes off to become a single, unprivileged expat.

That secret is the emotional tailspin the “Emergency Contact” blank on a form can send you into.

Read more after the break…

Anytime I’m confronted by a job application, medical history, registration form  or insurance questionnaire that asks me to provide the name and number of someone who would be able to make informed medical decisions in the case of serious catastrophe, I break down a little bit. A part of me goes into the back room of my brain and wails out a lamentation-style pity party dirge, while the rest of me is smiling and trying to think who on earth can I possibly put in that blank?

Now some people have very supportive, loving communities. Some people have very materially substantive lifestyles. Some people have both. You don’t have to worry about those two words and a blank. But I am basically on my own. I live paycheck to paycheck while I finish my degree. And the words “emergency contact” strike fear into the depths of my soul.

Who, I wonder, is going to know what the signs are if I have a relapse? Who knows that I am allergic to penicillin, averse to steroids, and extremely sensitive to pain medications? Who can I trust to fight not only for my life, but for the quality of my life, if I get ill and require drastic treatment? It’s no big secret that the poor often get treatment that save their lives at the cost of significant quality factors. I don’t want to be porting around a colostomy bag, a crooked skin graft or a missing body part simply because I was too unconscious to say hey! What are the other options??

Who can I trust to actually read and understand all of these things if write them down and carry them with me?

The thing is, I think I’ve been very blessed in finding community wherever I go. I think that the people around me, no matter how close or far they feel, wouldn’t let me die for lack of knowledge about me. But I also know that you can’t make someone love you like you love yourself, and often fear and unfamilarity breed awkward decisions. The people who love me, while I love them as well, are not invested in my life to the extent where I feel comfy putting them down as emergency contacts.

So, when I look at the emergency contact blank, I think of all these things. I think that there is no one on earth I trust enough to make the same bad decisions I’d make. And I put down my grandma in the US, who is getting a little senile these days but can at least be counted on to yell at the doctor like I would, and then tell my parents if I die.

Today’s quote comes from here:

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2 responses

  1. Oh, the joys of living abroad! My friends from S.America have entrusted me with a lot of things because of these same reasons. But at least they have each other (they are married) so their parents don’t worry as much. I’d love to travel overseas one day. In the meantime, I’ll just keep staring at my unstamped passport! lol

  2. Oh don’t let my whining scare you away, lol! I think it’s just a matter of having a very good support network when you travel–something I wasn’t aware I’d need to build until I started traveling. Build yourself a safety net and it alleviates a lot of traveler’s stress.

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