Sunday, June 2, 2013

A "Quick" Trip to the Doctor

We are so blessed to live in a country with great medical care!  We have modern facilities, easy access to medicines, and every kind of specialist possible.

Yet, every time I find myself faced with the possibility of needing a doctor's appointment I shiver in my boots.  There is of course the whole language issue, but even worse than that is figuring out the system and the things that are just "assumed" that you understand.

Hannah has had some digestive issues for several years and we finally decided it was time to figure out what is going on and try to get her help.  Oh my!  Here is a quick glimpse at what we have done so far:

Clinica La Luz - Madrid
Location of Hannah's Doctor

  • Made an appointment directly with the gastro specialist.  The receptionist/nurse (yep, same person) made sure I understood that the clinic and the doctor were both private (remember Spain has socialized medicine) and we would need to be prepared to pay cash for our appointment.
  • Drove to clinic.  It is in Madrid and all the parking around the clinic is one hour parking.  Imagine a specialist clinic in the states that only had one hour parking!  Here, it is usually plenty if you are there for just a regular appointment.
  • Checked in with receptionist - meaning told her Hannah's name.  Showed a chair to wait in.  Ten minutes later we were taken into the doctor's office (I mean office - not examining room) where we waited a few minutes.
  • Doctor came in and pulled out a piece of typing paper.  He asked basic questions - age, address, phone, etc - writing it all down by hand.  Then he went through a whole list of symptom questions, again writing down by hand all his notes.
  • He then explained he wanted blood work, urinalysis, abdomen ultrasound, and endoscope.  Called in the receptionist/nurse and repeated directions, as well as handing her the piece of typing paper.
  • Followed nurse/receptionist to front desk.  Made an appointment for the ultrasound and endoscope for next week.  She explained what Hannah needed to do in advance of the appointments and again repeated the fact that this is a private clinic and we needed to come prepared to pay cash.  Around €600 total.  (in USD that is $800).
  • So far, so good - or at least we think we have understood it all!
  • Then she says for the blood work and urinalysis we will first need to go to the pharmacy to purchase urine sample cup.  Huh?  Did I understand right?  So I repeated it and sure enough.  When I asked her to write down in spanish for me what I was supposed to ask for, she told me to wait a minute and she would see if she could just find us one.  Thankfully she did!
  • Nurse/receptionist stuck piece of typing paper in a sheet protector and stuck the sheet protector in an overflowing notebook in the cabinet.  I am still wondering if someone comes behind and does something with those notes and if so, what?
  • Now with sample cup and lab orders we are sent home to find our "local" lab to do the blood work.  Local lab?  I didn't even know we had one.  The nurse/receptionist was very kind and said we could come back to the clinic in Madrid if we wanted - but with it being a 45 minute drive she was sure we would prefer our local lab.  Ok.  Why not?  I think I know of one in Illescas and if not, I had the phone number of my language tutor.  :)
  • Yep, what I thought was the lab was really a lab.  Stopped by and was told they did lab work form 9 to 10 each morning, come back next morning.
  • Showed up at 9 the next morning with urine sample and lab orders.  Reminded that since I didn't have Spanish public health care I would have to pay cash for tests.  Nurse pulls out a price list and a scrap piece of paper and figures by hand that I owe €260.  I give her the money and she takes Hannah's arm from across the desk and preps it to draw the blood.  (Thank goodness we have excellent health insurance that will reimburse us for all these expenses!)
  • Marks my paperwork paid and tells us to come back this week to pick up the results.  Yep - I carry them directly to the doctor myself.
  • This week she will have the ultrasound done first and the ulstrasound tech will hand me the results and prints to take to the doctor.  Immediately afterwards she will have the endoscope.  Right in the doctor's office.  And when it is over, they'll give her about 10 minutes to wake up, get dressed, and we'll meet with the doctor to discuss all the results.
Of course, all this was in Spanish - so who knows what I missed or didn't understand.  Never bored in Spain!  But regardless of the craziness I am blessed! I could live somewhere where we had no medical options.

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