25 May 2019
I somehow ended up at a hospital in Brazil again yesterday…
Now, before you jump into panick, I just needed to see a doctor to check something ~ it wasn’t serious (even though I’m not happy with the diagnosis…it could have been worse).
Fun fact…going to hospitals make me feel uncomfortable – especially when I’m overseas because there’s the language barrier and uncertainty which causes extra anxiety, but it was definitely an experience that a person doesn’t ordinarily experience while they’re traveling so in a way I’m kind of grateful. I’m also grateful for the free healthcare (thanks Brazil!)
When I got to the hospital, the process was a little confusing – I wasn’t really sure on what I was supposed to do or who I was supposed to speak to but I figured it out somehow by using my commonsense. I had to wait forever and that’s what led me to writing this entry ~ because I literally had SO MUCH TIME. And since it’s a really short entry, I thought I’d post this first before the latest blog I’ve been working on ~ on extending my visa in Brazil (coming soon).
Have I sparked your interest yet? Good! Because I’m about to tell you about my second experience in a Brazilian hospital.
Entry: waiting at the Hospital in Cabo Frio
OK, so I’m a naturally an impatient person. I arrived at 3.30pm. It’s now 5.30pm. I expected to leave before the sunset (nope). I’m paranoid they forgot to put my name in the system.
Before I arrived, I expected the hospital to be the one like I visited in Rio Das Ostras earlier this year but this place was completely different. It was much more calm, developed and looked more sanitary. I didn’t see all sorts of characters this time – people screaming or hopping around. The waiting room was completely white and they even had a screen with a robotic speaker to call out people and delegate them to different rooms. And there were no English speakers at all.
In Rio Das Ostras, I was taken straight through to doctor to give me a diagnosis which was awesome. It wasn’t quite the same case here – for the hospital in Cabo Frio, I seemed to have to go through a painfully slow and seemingly inefficient registration process, although even if they did it more efficiently, I don’t think it would have made much of a difference. At this stage, I wouldn’t be susprised if people were pushing in front of me because there was a priority system in place and my need to see a doctor was definitely far from an emergency.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been dying of boredom and have resorted to writing – I wanted to continue my blog but just ran out of data just as I stepped into the hospital to be able to do so! Just my luck! May as well document this.
After lunch, I followed the route on my maps and walked to the hospital. It was unenjoyable and uneventful. When I arrived, I found the entrance quite easily because the place I was standing in front of obviously looked like a hospital.
At the hospital
When I stepped in, there were a whole bunch of people sitting and standing near the entrance – picture a big white almost classroom-like setting…except all the chairs were far away from the desks. There weren’t that many chairs for people to sit on so there were also people standing. There was a small monitor up the top and two signs which said “Registro”. At the back of the room, there were 4 desks with 4 computer monitors and 4 workers.
It made sense to walk up to them but I was definitely confused as fuck.
There wasn’t really much of a queue at the desks.
Me (to the worker): “Eu preciso olia um medico” (I need to see a doctor)
Me: “Eu nao tem. Nao llembre” (I don’t have it. I forgot)
Worker: “Seu nome”
Me: “Mei Wah Chan”
I showed him a message with my passport details. Then he proceeded to take my blood pressure and sent me to the guy at the desk next to him to register more details. I stood in front of him waiting for about 5 minutes before he looked at me. And that’s when things started becoming more difficult because of the language barrier. But actually it wasn’t that bad because the main thing I couldn’t understand was when he said “nascimiento” (might be spelt wrong sorry guys!) which means date of birth. It took us a while but we got there in the end. I completely understood when he asked me for my mum’s name thank god! After he got everything he needed to, he told me to wait for them to call my name.
I was nervous – what if I can’t tell they are calling my name? I can barely understand anything coming out of the speaker.
I stood to the side for a while, just staring at people. While I waited, I thought I’d listen closely to all the announcements to see if I could get used to understanding the speaker but it didn’t get any better. Everything sounded muffled. Eventually I heard something which sounded like my name but had no idea if it was and where I was supposed to go…
After hearing the same thing a couple of times, I became more certain it was my name.
But which room was I supposed to go to??? I didn’t understand.
I went back to the guy who registered me, interrupted other the patients who were in the middle of registering their names and asked the guy to help me (a bit rude I know). He sent me to “Risk Assessment” room.
I sat down with some guy in the room.
Guy: “How can I help you?” (in Portuguese)
Me: “I don’t speak much English.”
Guy: “Don’t worry”
When I explained what my problem was (with the help of Google Translate ~ what a god send!) I thought he was the doctor. He started asking me basic questions about allergies, etc. but then sent me back outside to wait again and explained that a doctor will see me later (aww man, I really thought he was the doctor). I made sure to clarify that I was supposed to wait for my name to be called again.
As soon as I stepped outside, I realised the monitor in the waiting room showed all the names being called.
Ohhh, so THAT’s the trick! That’s how you can tell if your name’s being called and which room you’re supposed to go to.
Then the REAL wait began.
Waiting, waiting, waiting…
Remember how I had no internet? Well yeah I got really bored like I said. All I could really do was think…A LOT. And people watch ~ I ended up also watching a few of my previous travel videos on my phone and gave myself a few laughs (I think my commentaries are ridiculously funny and stupid sometimes lol). At least it put a smile to my face. At some stages, I studied some more Portuguese and listened to some music.
Ok, I have to warn you ~ this part of the blog is literally just dot points of some thoughts which went through my mind while I was waiting. I hope you enjoy! It’s always interesting to see what’s going on through a person’s mind right?
- I’m so tired
- I can’t be bothered exercising now
- Waiting for this long is a first world problem – I’m lucky to have access to medical attention (to try make myself feel better for waiting so long)
- Maybe I should have just gone to a private doctor instead
- Oh shit, the sun’s now setting already. There’s no way I’m getting back home before the sun sets.
- Ahhh, my back’s killing me!
- That guy smells weird.
- I could fill up my bottle of water with the water filter before I go (yay free water! I actually forgot to lol)
- Have they forgotten me?
- Should I go check?
- What’s my threshold time? 7pm! I’m going to follow up after it reaches 7.
- Will I get home before Thadeu? (9pm) Surely it wouldn’t take 6 hours just to see a doctor.
- I can’t believe I need to go through all of this just to get medicine
- I could have a serious disease
- OK, who can I use as a reference point to determine if people are jumping ahead of me – I’m going to use the people who are sitting right next to me
- I really should study more Portuguese but I’m too lazy and tired
- I really feel like they’ve fucked up and forgotten my name – but I understand sometimes the waits can be super long (I know people who’ve waited in Australian hospitals for 5 or 6 hours)
That’s all I wrote
7:10pm – when impatience won
By this stage, I waited for almost 4 hours and the guys sitting next to me (my reference point) had gone in to see a doctor. Hmmm.
I decided to finally go up and check.
Me (to the registrar): “Can you help me and check that my name is in the system?”
Guy: “I can’t check at the moment. It needs to be done on the computer next to me. Have a seat and I’ll look into it for you” (I’m not sure that’s what he said but it must have been something along those lines.)
I sat down…impatiently waiting and staring at him.
After about another 30 minutes he spoke to one of the doctors and called me back up to speak to him…admitting that my name wasn’t in the system.
Should have checked when I became suspicious of my name not being in the system…
Guy: “What’s your name?”
I wrote down my name for him and within 5 minutes, my name was called.
When I sat down, the doctor went into a little rushed frenzy telling me to wait in the room while she does something. Some other guy was waiting out the front with some delivered food which he put on her table while she left.
As soon as she came back she apologised for the wait and asked:
“How can I help you?”
I explained that I couldn’t speak much Portuguese and proceeded to tell her my problem
Me: “I have a rash which is spreading all over my body.”
I pulled up my dress and showed her my belly and pointed at all the other spots.
Doctor: “You have scabies”
Oh fuck me! I heard about this from a fellow traveler before and was so frustrated. Sigh
Me: “Is it serious?”
Me: “Is it contagious?”
Fuck! This is just what I needed right now…
She wrote a whole long list of medication for me to buy and wrote some more stuff on a separate bit of paper…going into a long explanation on the dosage I should take and explaining that I needed to get some medicine straight away in the hospital too. She walked me over to the “medication room”.
I handed over my script to one of the workers and she told me to go into a curtained corner to wait…
At first I thought they’d just give me tablets but the pathologist came in with 2 needles.
FUCK!!! (I’m petrified of needles)
I kept trying to assure myself it would be OK ~ I definitely didn’t expect to get 2 needles in the bum! I thought it would at least be in my arms.
At first, it wasn’t THAT painful. But once the liquid was dispersing into my blood, I felt this horribly sharp pain run through my right cheek! It was so excruciating I had to sit down. I didn’t really want to sit. I wanted to lie down but they didn’t offer that luxury at this hospital. It was so uncomfortable to try to sit because the pain was on my bum too! I couldn’t even move for 20 or 30 minutes and was squeezing in my face the whole time, trying to take deep breaths to calm my body down. The pathologist kept checking on me to see if I was OK.
And that was that. I slowly made my way back home, buying all the medicine on the way and started treating myself straight away.
I hope you enjoyed my story. Stay tuned for my blog on extending my visa in Brazil.