Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Medical care review (part 1)

Reviewing books, movies, and albums is overrated... we all know a foreigner's real interest is in getting the low-down on all places involving paperwork, lines, headaches, and confusion.  Thanks to a whiffed kick and my lack of wearing shinguards, a major blow to a ligament in my shin started off my stint in checking out a number of the region's medical facilities.   (Before this moment, I have tried to get most of my medical stuff at CentroMed in Vina, which I have found perfectly adequate and easy enough to navigate.)

So I'm a little stubborn.  I realized of course that I had been kicked pretty hard, but it definitely took over a week and a few more limped soccer games for me to accept that I should probably get to a doctor.  
These colors are normal, right?
Ignoring all the missteps I took to get there... I finally found a doctor who I actually liked, partly because he asked me about my medical problems rather than talking to me about being a gringa, and partly because he had his daughter in the office with him, and looking at the ugly bruise on my leg gave him a great context for him to give her an English lesson on colors.  
"Blue.... Purple... green..... yellow.... orange.... " 

He tells me to stay off it, "no dancing cueca at the 18" (I'd been needing a new excuse), and by this time I accepted the order to rest because the injury had somehow spread and caused a sprain in my ankle.  Every step hurt like hell.  

The next night, it must have been my awkward limp that attracted a dog to come from behind out of nowhere, growling, and sink his teeth into my calf.   By the time I got it off and was out of view from the men who had just stood by and watched me get attacked, my calf was throbbing and slowly dripped blood out of a couple deep puncture wounds. 

So off I went to the Clinica Valparaiso, where I waited a couple episodes of "En su propia Trampa" to be attended. The doctor saw me.  He made me uncomfortable. He told me I'll get a tetanus shot and the first rabies shot in the stomach! 
The doc said to sit tight... so I did, for over an hour, so nervous about getting a shot in the stomach I almost vomited. When the nurse finally appeared, I gave a sigh of relief to learn that these days the anti-rabies shot is given in the arm.  We planned a schedule for the remaining 4 shots which had to be taken on specific dates for the vaccine to be effective. 

However, when I went back the next time to the Clinica Valparaiso for shot #2, things took a turn downhill.  Chile hit ROCK BOTTOM in the customer service category when the lady at the desk told me they couldn't treat me.  Despite previous conversations with the nurse and front desk and the paper in my hand which indicated otherwise, this woman insisted that you can only get the first shot there, NOT the second.  The second, she said, must be received from the "place close to your house."  When I asked her what type of place, she was of no help.  She told me to ask whoever I live with.
I was very confused and said calmly, "This is close to my house.  When you say to go to some other place, do you mean another hospital, a private doctor, or what type of place should I look for?"
She said she didn't know.
This went on in a similar manner for a few minutes.
I was getting frustrated.  I took a deep breath and said "It's a holiday, nothing except for the emergency room would even be open... and my shot MUST be today.  I'm not from here... I don't understand where I need to go to get my shot."
She deflected, "I'm not from here either."
I said that I would like to speak to someone else who could help me and she defensively said I couldn't.  So I tried one last time to affirm I understood I needed to go somewhere else, and asked how I could find out where to go....
She started shaking her head back and forth and repeating quickly: "No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé. No lo sé........."   
Obviously not getting anywhere with this lady acting like a 5 year old, I got up and left as she continued to repeat these words, effectively blocking any further conversation.  Anyway, by this point I was so frustrated I felt like I would either burst into tears or just literally burst from my racing heartbeat.   

On the way back to my house, I stopped to ask a policeman for some indication of what other type of medical services might be open on a holiday.  He said just the hospitals, but in the future suggested that I just buy the vaccine and find a nurse to inject me.  I never tested out whether this would actually work but this sounds a little sketchy.  

Revisiting this was stressfull, I'll continue later... 


  1. How horrible for you, I am so sorry.

    As for the policeman's advice, it is very coomon and lots of people in Chile buy there own meds then have a nurse pop round and give them an injection. I am not sure how you would do this if you didn't know a nurse or have friends who did this. I know about it through my in-laws.

    Hope you feel better soon.

  2. How bizarre, but not that surprising. I'm getting to the point now where my expectations are very low. I hope that you got this all resolved and that you are on the mend.

  3. The Thorny Rose - yes... much better now. I never completely got the shin problem to go away, still seeing a doctor and whatnot... but I did not die of rabies, so I'd say in the end my treatment must have been a success (that and, the dog that bit me did not actually have rabies).

    Spiderworkshop- Yes i have heard of this but for more routine type injections that I have always assumed people had the paperwork to purchase. I would think you shouldn't be allowed to just walk into a pharmacy and buy a vaccine.

  4. For a moment, when i saw the picture, I thought "This is great, Lydia got a starring role at The Walking Dead!", but no.
    I hope you're feeling better, and I'm happy to read your blog again.

  5. I also had trouble figuring out what a estación medico del barrio was... (and they first told me it was called a "clínica del barrio" nada que ver!

    I wish I'd known, I would have pointed you over to my post on the topic!

    sorry for your pain, looking forward to more info, and less injury. Effing dog.

  6. Sólo como complemento a lo anterior, al parecer el sistema de atención primaria o de emergencia en Valparaíso es un poco confuso (Lo que no justifica en ninguna manera la pésima atención que recibiste)
    En el segundo link están los centros de atención, a ver cual es el más cercano a tu casa, para que te registres ahí o algo. Al parecer hay que estar registrado previamente, al menos en Temuco funciona así, según recuerdo.

  7. Marmo - interesting links, but still it says I need to know where the "Consultorio o Centro de Salud Familiar Correspondiente al área geográfica de residencia".. but I don't see a map or anything that sections us all off and says which one I should be going to. I'm sure there are people who are kinda equal distances between them... or geographically close but not based on roads, etc...

    Plus, given that it was a holiday and all the consultorios were closed, I think the Clinica should have helped me. Plus I live 1 kilometer from the Clinica, its not like I came in from another region to clog up the medical system.

    Eileen- I could have found the consultorio closest to my house just fine if they would've told me thats what I was looking for. However she didn't say to go to the "estacion medico del barrio" or "consultorio del barrio" but rather vaguely just "the place" ... and again those places aren't open on holidays so knowing that wouldnt have done any good. Honestly my only other options were to go to hospitals further away.

    haha Marmo.... would've been a great re-entrance, right?

  8. Hi Lydia, My name is Kat & I'm doing research about moving to Chile to teach English (Valpo specifically). Is there any way I could talk to you directly & pick your brain about a few things? Either via email or Facebook? Thanks in advance!

  9. Leave me your email ill try to get back to you soon though im traveling for a few days here