It was music to my ears. A new hospital!
After hearing all the nightmare stories from other hospitals and paying crazy amounts at the British clinic, I was ready to give it a try. Jason and I took a tour of the new hospital last year and were thrilled! It was clean! It was nice! It was organized! It had its own blood bank! (Hey, the thought of having to go pick up your blood across town in a plastic grocery bag was not too thrilling, so a blood bank is exciting news!)
Last week I finally got an excuse to test out this new hospital. I was ready for an adventure... and I was not disappointed.
Now, should you ever decide to have an adventure like mine, let me tell you about something. There is an understood rule in all hospitals and doctor's offices here.
Bring Your Own Towel.
I had learned this rule at the British clinic last year. Unfortunately, I learned it the hard way. So if any procedure is done that would require clean up (including drying your hands after washing them) you better have a towel in your purse.
So, before heading out the door, I grabbed a towel and a wash cloth... and some toilet paper. You gotta be prepared in a third world country.
We arrived at the hospital and headed to the registration desk. We signed in and headed to the payment counter. It costs around $22.50 to register and have a consultation with the doctor. And... everything is pay as you go. We paid and headed up one floor to see the doctor.
The doctor did a medical history and a quick check of the problem. She said I needed some blood work and an ultrasound. Blood work is one floor up. Ultrasound is two floors down. But... it's pay as your go. We stopped by the payment counter and payed for an ultrasound and blood work. We then headed for the blood work.
Now, I get a little nervous with needles or knives in a third world country, but I watched closely. Clean needle? Check. Gloved hands? Check. Cleaned arm? Check. Woohoo! Easy peasy! Happy girl! Results back in four hours. Time for the ultrasound!
Now every ultrasound I have ever had for this medical problem required an empty bladder and what I ate didn't matter. So I stopped by the bathroom on the way to prepare my bladder. We get to the ultrasound department and what do I see? A sign that says a FULL bladder is required and a stomach empty for five hours! I had empty bladder and full tummy! We checked with the technician... sure enough. I messed up on both accounts. Time to guzzle water and wait two hours to meet my five hour empty stomach requirement. Where did we go?
Jason was starving, so we went to a restaurant. I watched him eat while I drank water until my eyes were floating. We then headed back to the hospital. Needless to say, I lusted over the smells of the hospital cafe' as we passed it by, and coveted the bathroom as we passed it up, too. And things went down hill from there.
We got down to the ultrasound room, and I sat in the waiting area trying not to look obvious that I needed to "go." Within minutes, the tech came out and got me. YAY!
The ultrasound was torture. She pressed on every organ in my body... including my bladder. I fought with all my might to avoid a Mount Vesuvius explosion. Then the tech says, "I need more urine. Can you drink more water and come back in just a little while?"
She appeased me by saying, "You can eat something from the cafe' if you want. I have finished with that part of the ultrasound." I had ultrasound goop all over me, but no worries... B.Y.O.T. prepared!
So we hobbled up to the cafe'. I avoided putting pepper on my food... sneezing at this point would be a disaster. I drank another 3/4 liter of water, and headed back to ultrasound. There was no hiding my bladder dilemma at this point. I was just happy to make it to the seat in the waiting room.
Within minutes the tech retrieved me. "I thought you would be back here quite a while ago."
Apparently she saw my distress... but she was in the mood to torture the poor foreigner. She had no mercy on my bladder. You know those little balls that have faces on them and eyes that bug out when you squeeze them? Yes, that was me.
The moment she finished she said I could run to the restroom. She didn't have to ask twice. I barely even bothered wiping the ultrasound goop off. I grabbed my purse and ran.
The bathroom was right across the hall. I think everyone in the hospital heard my sigh of relief as I "parked in the garage." In my haste, there was one thing I forgot to take note of.
Notice on the far right bottom of this picture... that's the toilet. Notice on the upper left. That's the toilet paper. It's about 6 feet away from the toilet. I know I am in a country that doesn't use toilet paper typically... but it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that the TP needs to be a tad closer to the toilet. Sigh... well, not only is it BYOT... it's BYOTP in most places, too. So I came prepared.
Ultrasound in hand, we head up to pathology to pick up blood work results. As I am waiting in "line" I am quickly reminded that it isn't "first come, first served." In this country, it's survival of the fittest. So after losing a couple of spots in line, I pushed my way up. Results in hand, we headed back to see the doctor. She looked over all the results and declares, "You need an MRI."
So back downstairs we head. We took the order to the radiology department and are sent back upstairs for "pay as you go." Jason went to pay while I got dressed. In his absence, the MRI tech assistant took me to the dressing room. Nice... clean... big room.
He handed me a gown and headed out. I get undressed and started to throw on the gown... I had forgotten I live in the land of the tiny people. The gown was the size of my ten year old daughter. So, I get completely redressed and called the tech assistant back to the room.
"Bhai (little brother), this is very small. Is there a bigger one available?"
"Then we have a big problem."
The assistant calls the MRI tech over. I explain the problem to him. In the meantime, I had also forgotten that I live in the land of the incredibly nosey. People were peaking in the room to see what the problem was. By this time Jason returned. The MRI tech declared there is nothing bigger. He sent the assistant to the ER to see if they have something bigger. Jason is convinced there has got to be something bigger. He looks at the gown I was given. It's a size medium. By his great skills of deduction, Jason realizes if there is a medium, there must be a large. He started digging in the gown cabinet. Sure enough he found a large.
The tech assistant returned declaring there is nothing bigger. Jason declared yes, there is. I had forgotten we live in the land of people who argue for fun. So as the tech argued, Jason grabbed the gown I was given and showed it to the tech and the assistant... size MEDIUM. Then the tech assistant says, "Same size." Jason shows him the other gown... LARGE. Surprise. There was a larger size. Everyone gigglds and stepped out of the room. The peanut gallery outside returned to their seats, and I get dressed in a properly fitting gown.
I got up on the MRI table and got strapped in. No, I do not like tight spaces. I prepared myself for the torture. I was not looking forward to staying still for thirty minutes. As they rolled me into the tube, I close my eyes and try to pretend I am in a huge open area. The tech turned on some music, hoping to help me relax. The music was in Hindi, so I didn't understand any of the words... but as the singer sang it sounded just like he said, "I'm so gassy! So gassy!"
Now, I am trying to stay still... and not laugh... while some Hindi guys sings about flatulence. Thankfully, Jason let the tech know that Hindi music was not my style. The music went off. Now I laid there listening to the roars, moans, and groans of the MRI. If you have never been in an MRI, let's just say it is like standing near the engine of an airplane. No, they didn't give me earplugs. Third world country, remember?
A couple of days later we talked to the doctor about the MRI results. She said I now need one last test. We went back for that last test. Before the procedure, I had to have a local anesthetic. As I went into the office, the nurse let me know the location of the shot would need to be... my hiney. Great.
So I jumped up on the table and rolled to the side. The nurse uncovered the needed location. As she cleaned the area and prepared to stab me with her weapon, she began to giggle... and then said, "You are soooo white!" Well, thank you , Captain Obvious, but the sun doesn't usually make its way there.
With all the giggles, all the adventures, all the back and forth running around... what do I remember most?
I remember the doctor talking so gently to me as I went through a very painful procedure. I remember the nurse holding my hand and tenderly talking me through it. I remember the hospital's PR representative walking us around to make sure we got to the right place and learned the ropes. Yes, they may do things differently. They may think differently. But they cared. Yes, I am white. No, I don't speak the language well. But I felt confident among them because they went the extra mile for us... or in this country... they went the extra kilometer.