Monday, September 13, 2010

trip to the doctor

Just got back from my trip to the doctor, due to the continued digestive problems.

I first took a máquina (cab) but he took me too far, so he dropped me off and told me to get a cab back the way we had just come. I asked a nice lady how I could get to the clinic, and she helped me get into a maquina going the other direction. It was a '74 VW beetle (I asked what year). The last time I rode in a VW beetle was the one we had when I was little, so that was a neat little trip down memory lane. I even remembered the smell that VW had.

Anyway, he took me directly to the hospital so he charged me 1 CUC rather than the 10 pesos cubanos it should've cost. He wanted to wait for me and then take me home to get more money from me but I politely refused.

The hospital was a little confusing at first. Go here. No, go there. Talk to that person. Finally I found some nice people who helped me, and within 10 minutes I was talking to a doctor, having a bizarre conversation about diarrhea in Spanish. He said it sounded like I have an intestinal parasite or amoeba and that he needed a stool sample to verify.

After a very awkward time in the bathroom, and a very awkward exchange of said sample, I waited another 15 minutes in the lobby. The doctor said that it had come back negative for parasites, but since only 35-40% of parasites are normally present in feces, he said he would treat me as if I did have one. I certainly feel like that's the right diagnosis, so I said ok.

Then I went through the hoops again to get my medicine. The pharmacy in the hospital has all these glass cabinets with medicine displayed. Really bizarre, just like in stores with their glass displays usually sparsely populated with inventory. They gave me a form at the pharmacy that I needed to get to the finance people, so I went back and forth and finished the paperwork. My health insurance card for Cuba did the trick. I think the whole visit was like 32 dollars.

The hospital itself was one that I think is mostly for tourists or diplomats. It was not a crowded public hospital. One thing I like about it is the nurses. They still wear flattering white nurse uniforms, complete with pillbox hats. Other than that, it was very normal, modern hospital.

My treatment:
Antibiotics (I think that's what it says, but the box is Spanish)
Folic acid
Rehydration tablets
No milk
No products that contain sugar, including fruits vegetables and beans (bananas ok)
Drink plain yogurt 3 times a day
He also said not to eat food on the street, especially if the conditions look bad (basically eliminates all street food)

After my embarrassing cab journey to the hospital, the one back was very smooth and cheap. Now I need to find yogurt (requires a trip to the special grocery store far away) and buy some tupperware so I can save dinner leftovers. I'm sad that I was told by a doctor not to be buying food on the street. It's so cheap and easy. Now I'll have to be more thoughtful about the quality...

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