We continue to be amazed by God's goodness and mercy! I finally sought out a medical consultation. Honestly, I have been a little afraid to have local treatment for this kind of serious medical condition ( a kidney stone), but I could not continue in that fear, so yesterday took the plunge and went to a local physician.
Dr Vega works only a few days a week in a clinic here in Volcan. I chose him because I was told that he speaks some English. I went in on Wednesday afternoon to try to make an appointment. The receptionist said that they did not take appointments, but he would be in the office on Thursday at 3:00. She said I should come in then. So we came back at 2:45 on Thursday, signed in and sat and waited. There were 4 names ahead of mine on the list, and about 7 people in the waiting room. The room had plain painted walls, 2 couches and three chairs. There were 3 doors, other than the entrance. About 20 minutes after we arrived one of the doors opened and a child came out, walked to the receptionist, handed her a $10 bill and left. as he walked to the desk the receptionist pointed her finger at another child in the room and that child got up and walked through the door. Nothing was said. When the second child opened the door I could see 4 or 5 nurses in th room talking, nothing more. I assumed it was a dentist's office by the little I had seen, and hoped I was not waiting to have a tooth pulled. I only told her I wanted to see Dr. Vega. She did not ask why, and I did not know if there was a Dr. Vega dentist or not.
More folks came in- some signed in, some did not. There was a small boom box in the corner playing good Panamanian music. The receptionist was reading a magazine. No other workers seemed to be present. It was all kind of surreal. She had a cordless phone on the desk which rang occasionally, and a file cabinet with 3 x 5 index cards organized in it. We all waited. 'This is totally normal in the States', I said to myself.- the waiting. In fact, the biggest difference I had noticed thus far was that the walls were not ornately covered, with expensive plants all around and high dollar carpet. That and the use of index cards instead of file folders.
At 4:00 a man carrying a medical bag walked through the door and down a hall. The receptionist pointed immediately to a woman, who got up and went to the back. The waiting room had filled up by then, and Lynn had given his seat up to an elderly lady, so was outside. After 3 others had been 'pointed' to the back, she pointed at me, I got up and headed down the hallway, but quickly turned around and said "where?" She said "open door". I walked to the end of the hallway, and walked into the room where the man was now sitting. he looked up and said "Buenas Tardes" to which I replied in Spanish" Good afternoon, do you speak English?" He said yes, and I breathed a sigh of relief, and began discussing this darn stone, and what could be done.
I actually learned quite a bit about stones and the kidney. Much I wish I had known years ago. I have suffered from kidney stones for over 20 years. You would think one of the many doctors I have had would have shared some of this information! At any rate, he said it was important to see where the stone was, and what shape the kidney was in. This would require a trip to the hospital in David, and some X rays. He prescribed a medicine for muscle spasms and another for pain, then wrote up the order for the test he wanted done. He told me to expect the test to cost between $70 and $90, and I should return to him with the X rays and the radiologists report . I said ok, walked out to the receptionist, who asked if I had received an injection. I said no, and she told me the bill was $7.00. Lynn paid and we left.
That was yesterday. This morning we left the house at 7:00 headed for David. We were not certain where the hospital was located, but had a t least three different versions from friends and neighbors to choose from. We tried a mix of them, and ended up calling yet another friend who got us even more confused. We did find it, almost by accident, or divine providence, maybe. No-one had told us correctly. We have had this problem a lot with directions, we have decided that it is because most people don't drive, so don't pay much attention to directions.
At any rate we got there, found the Radiology department, and after the Radiologist read the orders, I was given the bill. That's a new twist, huh? It was for $80, and again, Lynn paid it. Then I was taken to the Emergency room within 2 minutes, and an IV was placed in my hand. Again, right away I was taken back out to the waiting room, and then to an X ray room. After the first X ray was taken, the Radiologist said that I should have had a laxative the night before, and an enema this morning. I told him that I had been told to take the enema last night, but no laxative was mentioned. He said that this could be remedied, for an additional $5. I was escorted back across the hall to Emergency and given an enema. The mother of all enemas I have ever 'seen'. I think it was 7 gallons, no, maybe it just felt that way, but none the less, it worked VERY well. the nurses were very proud! Then back across the hall for the X rays, the dye, and more X rays. When that was done they asked me to wait for 30 minutes more for the doctor to read and write a report on the lovely, clean pictures. We also paid the additional $5.
These folks did not speak English, although one thought that he did. When comparing to medical service in the States, Panama gets an A+ for time efficiency, isn't that amazing? This culture is not time-oriented at all, but because of their concern for the welfare of people, they hurry. Regarding cost, what can I say? The same test in the States last December cost $1200.00. The Radiologist's fee was part of that $80.00, too. Okay, the communication thing is a problem. One kind of sad, kind of funny thing; while we were waiting for the notes to be typed up a woman from the States came in and asked the receptionist of the E.R. if they did plastic surgery, (in English). The receptionist asked her to repeat, then called for the Radiologist - who thought he spoke English. He came over and she asked again, adding the word 'Laser' in for good measure. He said no, we do not do laser, but we do have plasticos here. I believe he was referring to plasti-casts, but he gave her the number to call for a cast, and she was happy. Ah well!
We got the X rays and report, and I was feeling pretty worn out and needing comfort food, so where could we go but to McDonald's?:) I had chicken nuggets while Lynn had a Big Mac. I was certainly empty enough to eat all the nuggets and fries on my plate! Feeling quite sated, and relieved to have this business done, we left and headed for home, without my purse; it stayed behind at McDonald's while we drove home, an hour away. As we entered Volcan, I realized what I had done.
We stopped at Belgica's house to get her to call for us, but she was not home. We went to Maria's house, another neighbor, and asked her to help. We searched the phone book, but McDonald's was not listed. She called the stores around McDonald's and asked if they knew the number, but they did not. We finally headed home to call Brother Ponce, who lives in David, but could not because his number was stored in my cell phone which was... you guessed it, in my purse. I should also mention that my bank debit cards, over a hundred in cash, my driver's license, social security card, medicines, and everything of value I own, minus my passport, was in the purse. I only had the passport because I had needed it earlier, so Lynn was carrying it for me. I looked in our phone book, which was a little newer than Maria's, and low and behold the number for McDonald's was there! I called, and with very stilted Spanish, was able to find out that they had found my purse, and were holding it for me. Lynn headed right back down to get it while I prepared for my afternoon classes. There were already children at the house waiting.
Well, now it is almost 10:00 pm. I am....exhausted. Lynn is here with me safe and sound, my purse is here as well, with not one thing missing, the classes all went well. One student brought us a tamale for supper while another brought us 'bollos', a type of corn dish, so I did not have to cook. I believe that the X rays show that indeed I have passed the stone, but will find out for sure on Monday. I know it does not hurt like it has been. I am about to go to bed in my beautiful orange house in paradise, and am feeling like I am the most blessed human being on the face of the planet. God is so good! And so in control of everything. Why do I so often forget? I don't know, but I praise Him now for being so powerful, and claim Him as my King forever!
I pray you feel His power, and claim Him as yours as well! Then you will be blessed RICHLY!
For the purpose of clarity about the above posting by Joy- I had the hard job - drove 2 trips to David and sat in an emergency Room waiting area for two hours. Joy just had to lie on a table and drink sweet strawberry milk stuff through an IV. While in the waiting room I was reminded of all the times when I worked with Kindness, Inc. that I spent in doctor's waiting room and watched the elderly. Most of the people I drove for, were not only financially stressed, but extremely lonely. I had suggested to the Elders this work as an exceptional evangelistic tool, but felt little encouragement. It would take a lot of effort and time to organize such a program, but that's what it is all about; helping those in need, or as Tim has said,"loving them like Jesus would".
About the Christian Clinic - I thought Tim's email about Riverside heading the diabetic meals program was a great idea. I pray you will too. I used to do volunteer janitorial work for the Christian Clinic, and frankly was embarrassed that Riverside was not more actively involved. Didn't mean to get so serious but since Joy has been sick, it's all the housework getting me down. ;)
God is good!