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...