Thursday, September 8, 2011

Mary visits the doctor

Today, with the help of my employers, I went to get a public health insurance card (yay!) and then to the hospital to consult a doctor.  Both were pretty easy.

The hospital here is behind the big church downtown, and used to belong to the church until a few years ago.  Some of its architectural details have been removed, but some have been preserved, like the stained glass doors in the entrance.  I will photograph them on a day when I'm healthy.  I was told that the hospital has improved since it was purchased by the government.

Our timing was good (early morning), so in both places there was hardly any waiting time.  The hospital has waiting room seats color coded according to the urgency of your condition, not sure how that works when things are busy but it seems like a good idea.

They took my blood pressure (130/70) and temperature (in the armpit).  No paper gown was necessary; they did the blood pressure over my tee shirt sleeve and the nurse just reached inside my shirt to put the thermometer in the right place.  I didn't see my temperature result.  The doctor reached down the back of my shirt to place the stethoscope on my back.  Quite preferable to the paper gown in my opinion.

The doctor seemed very surprised when I said I had never smoked.  I'm not sure whether this is because of how my lungs sounded to him, or  because this area is so heavily involved in tobacco production that non-smokers are unusual.

He prescribed antibiotics, expectorant and Tylenol Sinus medicine.  We then went to the pharmacy to pick them up.  All of them are prepackaged and branded, like they were in China, rather than made to order by a pharmacist.  The pharmacy employees first bring the most expensive ones to you, then you have to ask for discounts and/or cheaper brands - thank goodness my employer was with me, as she saved me around R$30.  I would never have known to do this, because back home the pharmacy usually gives the least expensive prescription by default.

I suppose the high cost of medicine somehow balances out the fact that the doctor visit was free of charge under the public health care system.

My employers are being very helpful and trying to reassign my schedule for the rest of the week so that I can recover, for which I am extremely grateful.  My body's ability to recover is much slower than it was a couple of decades ago.  

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