18 December 2006

Part II: The Downtown Medical Centre

When we last parted ways, I was recovering well from a viral or bacterial infection in my throat. The good news is that, in Grenada, we don't need no stinkin ' lab tests to determine the actual nature of the illness, we just indiscriminately treat with antibiotics. I'm sure that my local intestinal flora and fauna were thrilled with that decision.

Medically, after recovering from this illness, I was doing pretty well. I was enjoying, as much as could be expected, my second term at medical school. This current term has a more interesting schedule than would be considered common for most university students. We take Neuroscience and Physiology for the entire semester, one lecture of each of these classes per day. Additionally, for the first three weeks of classes, we took Genetics. This entailed two lectures of per day. We then took the final exam in genetics and are officially the world's most knowledgeable geneticists, or something like that.

We swiftly (as in, the morning after our genetics final) transitioned into Immunology. So, at that point, we were taking Immunology, Neuroscience and Physiology, one lecture in each class per day. We were lucky enough to finish Immunology on Monday of this week with our final exam. This of course transitioned smoothly into Parasitology, a class in which I had my first two lectures this morning. We will finish Parasites in three weeks and then have a week of solely Neuro and Physio as we prepare for their respective final exams.

One could assume that this has been an interesting schedule to follow. Rest assured, we have also continued to randomly have Clinical Skills this term, and they have continued to impress, canceling lectures without informing the student body and demanding written reports of cases that they have, in fact, already written for us. It's been great!

So, during all of this greatness, I began noticing some problems with my digestive tract. Specifically, I was becoming increasingly nauseous, both during the day and during the night. I would wake up at night and feel like throwing up, but nothing would ever happen. It was like being stuck in the worst hangover, without a headache, just totally unable to eat. In fact, when I felt hungry and tried to eat, it just made things worse. It felt as though my entire intestinal system was rebelling against me and there was nothing I could do about it.

After several weeks of increasingly bad symptoms and the lack of any sort of recovery, I, along with the help of my friends, decided it was time for action. Instead of visiting the on-campus clinic, I would make my way to the Downtown Medical Centre and see a competent doctor there; someone who could order blood tests or x-rays or general medical things and get me back on my feet.

And so, on a Wednesday, I called the clinic and scheduled an appointment with Dr. Friday, for Friday. Already I was feeling better. It was almost as though I couldn't lose with this sort of luck, having a doctor named after one of the best days of the week. I even called back on Friday morning to confirm said appointment:

- "Hi, my name is Patrick and I'm calling to confirm my appointment with Dr. Friday this afternoon."
- "No problem, just come on in."
- "So, the doctor is there seeing patients right now?"
- "Yes, and you are on the schedule."

It's as though all my cares were vanishing in the wind. Only one problem remained.

- "So, where are you located?"
- "Well, do you know the market hill? Near the big hill road?"
- "Oh, of course, are there any other landmarks you can give me?"
- "Sure, it's down the block from the jewelers."

I can already tell that this is going to go well. So, Andy (who has graciously agreed to drive me, while using Angie's car) and I hop into the car and attempt to navigate our way downtown. In
Grenada, there are only about three named streets, and everything else is just by landmark. To get downtown, one must follow the Main Road around the Carenage and through the Tunnel. Well, we managed to find the tunnel on the second pass of a one-street, going behind a grocery store and through an alley. Fortunately, the one-way tunnel took us right into the heart of St. George's and we were able to drive straight through the entire city center without once seeing the Downtown Medical Center.

Finally, we found it. It was located on a hill (big surprise), right next to the huge outdoor vegetable market (another amazing discovery). The big problem at this point was that there were no places to park. So, after all the work we put into actually finding the place, we decided to drive back out around the Carenage (leaving town by about two miles) and catching the Reggae bus back downtown. All the while, of course, I was feeling sick and the two of us should have been studying for the neuroscience midterm we were due to take the following Monday.

Finally, we were able to find the clinic and entered through a non-descript door on the second floor. I walked to the receptionist, said I was there to see Dr. Friday, gave my name, and she politely told us to have a seat while waited. This was at approximately 2.00pm. Finally, around 2.45, she said, "Are you hear to see Dr. Friday?" Almost speechless, I responded, "Yes, I had an appointment."

"Oh," she replied, "Well, the doctor isn't here right now, but he should be back at 3.15." I seriously thought I was going to have a heart attack while sitting in the waiting room - and I was there for my stomach! Andy and I briefly conferred and we decided since it had been so much work getting down there that we would stick it out and wait until the doctor arrived.

As 3.15 turned to 3.45, the receptionist thought it would be a good idea to ask another pertinent question, specifically, "Are you here for medical treatment?"
- Wait, what? "Yes, I'm here to the doctor."
- "So, you need medical attention, is that why you're here?

Oh my God. "Yes, I am here to see the doctor about a medical condition." For those of you who haven't been to Grenada, this might seem confusing. Wait, this is confusing. What the hell was she saying?
- "Oh, OK. Well, he still isn't here, but it should be soon. Can you please fill out this card indicating your contact information and why you are here?"

Again, Andy and I decided that we would wait slightly longer to see what would happen. Finally, a doctor walked through the door and went into his examination room. I asked the receptionist how long she thought it would be before I got to see him (keeping in mind that we still had our neuroscience midterm the following Monday). She replied that although he indeed was a doctor, he was actually the dermatologist and would be seeing all the other patients in the waiting room before me. If I still wanted, I could pay the fee and see him after he was finished with everyone else in front of us.

It was at this point that we decided it was time go! We took the reggae bus back to the car and headed back to campus, having accomplished nothing but frustration during the entire afternoon and falling further behind on our studying. Welcome to Grenadian health care.


Blogger maxwell's house said...

great story - sounds like Peruvian health care!!!
Feliz Navidad!!!

8:13 AM  
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