Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A visit to a Tanzanian Hospital

All I can say is that I am pleased I wasn't seriously ill or dying.  If I was I would have died trying to open a file.
My appointment with the visiting dermatologist from the UK was at 10am.  I was told to open a file first.  Nobody actually explained the process of opening a file to me, and believe you me, there is a process!  At 8.30am I stood in a queue that moved forward painfully slowly as there are always people who join the queue from the side, and always join it in front of you.  After fifteen minutes the queue dissolved and expanded sideways into a mass of people all pushing and shoving to get to the front.  After elbowing my way to the front after what seemed to be an unusually long time of jostling, I was told to go to the next window.  Another queue just as wide as it was deep.  Have I ever mentioned how I hate waiting?  And I couldn't even read my Kindle because I had to stand the whole time and try and keep my place by using my elbows to keep out those trying to push in.  Luckily, I perfected the skill of elbowing during numerous train trips to Shanghai when I lived in China.
When I finally got to the front of the second queue, I was told to go back to the first queue.  I nearly burst into tears.  My chest started closing and I could feel a panic attack developing.  By this time it was 10.15.  I had been queueing for an hour and forty-five minutes and had achieved nothing.  Like a sheep I joined the next queue, in my heart knowing it was a waste of time.  If I didn't have this strange growth jutting out of me I would have left.  A kind nurse in another queue asked me if I had a piece of pink paper.  Of course I didn't!  Why would I have a piece of pink paper?  Apparently, they only help people with a pink paper.  You have to first get a piece of pink paper from the department you are visiting, in my case, the dermatology department.  Nobody had thought to tell me this.  Two hours of my life wasted.  I hate that.
The nurse called someone to take me to dermatology, two car parks and three buildings away.
Now clutching the piece of pink paper, I once again joined the queue.  Some people who had been queueing almost as long as me took pity and let me go to the front and push my piece of pink paper through the little window.  I saw why the whole process took so long.  No computers in sight, everything written by hand.  Painstakingly.  Cindy was written down as Cinci.  At that stage I was beyond caring.  It was already 11am.  I had been there since 8.30am.  After handing in my paper I was told to sit down and wait.  At last I could read my Kindle.  After fifteen minutes I decided it might be a good idea to try and find out what happens next.  I once again rejoined the queue at the second window where it appeared you had to pay.  Of course, being a foreigner I knew I would get charged a lot more than the locals.  Another nurse who had been in the queue at 8.30am came into the waiting area.  "Oh Mama you are still here!  I have been and gone, been and gone and am already bringing in a new patient!"  My smile was a little sickly.  It was 11.20am.
The nurse saved my life.  I was ready to slit my wrists if I had to wait any longer in a queue.
She shouted over the crowd, got those in the front to pass back my new file, and escorted me back to dermatology where I could pay instead of at the main hospital area.  $38, not too bad.
The visiting dermatologist was wonderful!  She removed the offending growth, gave me a check-over, froze a few strange spots, gave me a lecture on using sunblock and told me if I didn't use it I'd get wrinkles by the age of fifty.  Um, well actually....
My specimen was put into a very official-looking test-tube filled with formalin.  However, the dermatologist told me that I should not be too impressed, because at the very best there was a less than fifty percent chance of getting the results back from the pathologty lab.  They lose it, or the power is out and the machines can't work, or they forget about it.  So maybe we will never know what was growing out of me!
The whole visit lasted four and a quarter hours.  Isn't life here grand?


Jackie said...

Been there, done that, several times actually, and each time there's another little step that you weren't told about! You will learn! We knew an Irish priest who on one occasion when he was coughing badly, was asked whether he had been to said hospital for a check-up and replied "oh no, I'm much to ill to try going there!"

Cindy Vine said...

After yesterday I can see exactly where that Irish priest was coming from!

Di Hill said...

Sounds pretty 'ordinary'. I remember going to hospital in China - a much more orderly affair - without an appointment I was seen, fixed, and had to pay some piddling amount. Tanzania - mmmm, glad I am not there.