A trip to the doctor

Over the past six weeks, I’ve had a nagging cough. It’s come and gone so much that I haven’t really thought about how long I’d had it. However, this week it’s gotten worse and I finally broke down and called the Peace Corps Medical Officer. She told me to make an appointment with a local doctor and to relay the diagnosis. I called her on the way to dance practice and once I got there, I told my counterpart what I had to do. You can imagine what telling this type of news to a room full of middle aged and older women does when they find out the token American is going to the hospital. My dance teacher came up to me and asked me, very seriously, why I didn’t follow her advice (note: look at the date of that entry. Creepy) She then kissed me on both cheeks and sent me home.

Today, as soon as I got into the office, I headed straight out with my counterpart. We walked to the hospital in the center of town. I think it’s more of a medical center, but for the purposes of the story, I’ll call it the hospital. I had never been in there before and was amazed at the number of gates. It seemed every single room and several hall ways could be locked shut with a gate if need be. We made it to the doctor’s office and walked straight in. I’m not sure if it’s because there was no line, if he is a friend of my counterpart or because I got special treatment. I felt a little bit embarrassed since it seemed everyone on the floor was a minority, several with small children, waiting for their doctor and I stuck out with my gortex jacket. (Later, I would find out it was just lucky timing).

I sat down on the exam table and was handed a thermometer. I started to stick it under my tongue out of habit. Everyone in the room-two doctors, my counterpart and a random lady- saw me start to do it and all shouted “NO!” at the same time. “This is NOT an American thermometer!”. I sat there, blinking and stuck it under my arm. That was a bit crazy how in unison they were. After my temperature was taken, I took off my shirt and let an elderly, semi-retired doctor check my breathing with a stethoscope. He kept asking me to breath deeper. I did. “Deeper”. I tried. “Deeper“. At this point I thought I was going to pass out with how deep and frequently he wanted me to breath. I just pictured the headlines in the paper the next day: Local doctor with poor hearing asphyxiates American volunteer.

The doctor told me to walk down the hall to the radiology department. I walked into the x-ray room and was a bit worried. I’d heard stories from other volunteers who have had x-rays in Bulgarian hospitals. I won’t tell them because it wasn’t the case here. Though seeing an x-ray machine that seemed really old gave me some pause. I took off my shirt once again and with my back to the machine, arms akimbo. No lead vest or lead anything. She left the room and I heard the machine turn on and my chest started to burn (just kidding!). The lady came back into the room and tried her English on me. “Come back in one horse”. I stood there, puzzled, in a giant cold room with my shirt off. “Um…in an hour?” “No, fifteen minutes” and then she promptly left. I just stared at the door closed behind her wondering what had just happened.

Armed with a chest x-ray and a diagnosis written in Bulgarian, I waited outside in the hallway for the doctor again. When I saw the doctor again, he looked at the x-ray and asked me to call the Peace Corps Medical Officer. She and the doctor had a long conversation and then he wrote me a prescription. The PCMO told me what he was prescribing me and was going to check to see if they were FDA approved. She called me again to tell me which ones to buy. It was at this point, I asked what was wrong with me. Everyone had forgotten to inform me! The diagnosis: Acute Bronchitis. I’ve had it before, about six years ago. It wasn’t that bad. Actually, I rather enjoyed it since the day I found out what I had was the same day my swim team in high school had to swim five kilometers in practice. 😉 I was told by my counterpart to take the rest of the week off. I’m not too thrilled about that part since I’m going on vacation back to the States to visit my family next week for Thanksgiving and I don’t want to absent from work for two and a half weeks. Especially since I feel fine.

The bottom line is: I just have a nagging cough, I stayed home today and kept warm but I’ll see if I can return to work tomorrow. So far, all my colleagues are against this idea but I feel fine. I don’t think it’s contiguous.


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2 Responses to “A trip to the doctor”

  1. thomas Says:

    as your psychic, i will say that you noticing lots of gates is because they are obviously installed to keep out the sick, or, you are feeling that world is closing in on you and you have no open doors left in life.

  2. Jimmy Says:

    Once again I must thank you for tempering my ambition and enthusiasm in life.

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