Sunday, October 18, 2009

Adventures in Peruvian medical care

Or, Las aventuras en el cuidado médico Peruano

First of all, let me say that whatever Peruvians are lacking in technology, they make up for in love.  Especially those ladies at the medi-center on top of the mountain.  There was really nothing they could do for me, so they gave me lots of hugs and kisses.  The nurses at the hospital, very hands on.  Lots of hugging and saying soothing things in Spanish.

It wasn't the horror show you might imagine, although the equipment wasn't exactly new, and things were pretty casual.  When the orthopedic specialist came to see me, he introduced himself by his first name.  Alvaro.  Rosa, the doctor who came with me from Machu Picchu did the same when we met.  Check out the rusty wheels on the x-ray stand.  And what's with those wooden steps!  See the girl in the doorway?  That was the X-ray technician.  She looks like she's on her way to the movies!

And check out Rosa, my doctor!  She's hot!  And she's wearing jeans and a tight top!
I didn't realize they weren't going to give me painkillers until I asked for them.  You're paying for everything out of pocket, and unfortunately, most Peruvians are broke.  Meanwhile, at the ER here in SF, they force-fed me vicodin and morphine the minute I walked in the door.  Well, maybe not FORCE-fed.

Anyway, they even asked me before taking the X-rays!  They were like, "Are you sure? Because it's 60 soles?"  Which is like twenty bucks.  Go ahead.  Take ten.

So, they never offered painkillers and I didn't think to ask.  Once Rosa was gone and I was alone and all the adrenaline wore off, the pain came on.  Hard.

When the nurses came in I was howling in pain.  They finally hooked me up to an I.V. of I don't know what but it knocked me the fuck out.  Which was exactly what I wanted.

After that, things were pretty much fine.  They kept the pain meds coming and let me use the internet to email the exciting news to my ride from the airport and work.  I was even considering having the surgery to fix it right there in Cusco.

Until the apple incident.

I will say, I did notice that they weren't exactly diligent about using rubber gloves.  Which is quite different from the U.S., where they won't come within 50 feet of you without a biohazard suit.  But I was still surprised when a nurse strolled into my room to ask me a question while she was eating an apple.  OK, whatever.  I went with it.  I asked her if someone could unhook the tube from my I.V. needle and help me to the bathroom.  She said sure, and went ahead and did it herself.

With the apple still in her hand.

I wish I were making this up.  And really, what could I say?  Their house, not mine.  Fuck it.

What's that?  You want to slice my knee open and put it back together again?  Well, only if it won't interrupt your lunch...

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