Monday, February 01, 2016

FIELD NOTES DECEMBER 17, 2015~ Is that a house cat in the emergency room?

Working, living, loving and dying in the third world!

Is that a house cat in the emergency room?

      I am writing this I am looking out a small window that foreshadows over a landscape of food waste, discarded plastic bottles, rotting boards, the occasional dog with mange, and a little creek of black, human sewage flowing towards the river.  All this and I am being watched over by a flock of big, black, buzzards in yonder trees.  It is hot; I am sweating like two rats screwing on a wool blanket. I am about to wear out my Republic Of China made plastic flyswatter, all the time wondering why I do this. I had just gotten over my second round of stomach flu, aka "please, just let me friggin die," only days ago.  I have never understood why this perplexity of lower-bowels dysfunction seems always to hit you in the middle of the night. Once more, the second 'run in,' (a play on words) lasted for three days, and I was not able to get to a medical doctor. This one time I played the clock out eating charcoal from the fire pit, some juice made from pulverized oregano leaves and the occasional sip of mystery soup fed to me by a woman here in the village.  As a side note, I do not eat soup of any kind, unless, I am so sick, I can not walk, crawl, or drag myself to solid food. Sick in the jungle is bad enough, but to get sick and not have modern medical help can sometimes be fatal. However, let me tell you about my first bout of "that crap doesn't look like sliced bologna to me."

       Waking up at oh-two-hundred hours in the morning and thinking I needed to relieve my bowels. While sitting on the porcelain thrown, it became abundantly clear that I was on the verge of something very unpleasant. I was able to lean forward and drag a plastic five-gallon bucket of water across the floor and position it in front of me. I immediately started splashing my face, neck and head with the fresh water; I am not sure where the water came from, all I wanted to do was cool down as my body was quickly becoming a burning furnace. I felt my stomach churn, I moved the five-gallon bucket out of the way and tried to stand, hoping to make the stool with the first spewing. I was too weak to stand and keep my balance, I slump unceremonious back on the thrown, and the floor in front of me caught the stomach discharge. I continued to heave; finally, there was nothing, but now I am sweltering, burning up.  I am on fire! Sweat is pouring from every pore. More water on my face, neck, and head. I think I passed out, then again maybe I just went to sleep.  I do not know, all I know is that I am now sensing that my legs are asleep.  Once more I try to stand, more heaving, my stomach is empty, but the spasms still come. More fuzziness, more psychoneurotic dreams of dying.

      Slowly I can stand, rinse my mouth with some of the water in the five-gallon bucket and ricochets off the walls while trying to make it down the hallway to my bed. Laying down I felt another hot rush come over my body, I was sweating profusely, my stomach once again begins to churn, so I decided to make another run for the head. I fought the good fight until morning but by this time I was utterly exhausted and too weak to die. This life and death struggle went on until the morning when I was sure I was getting ready to meet my maker.

      As luck would have it, a woman, whom I knew came by to check on me and said I needed to go to the hospital. I declined the offer but was overridden by a five-feet-four-inch, one-hundred and eighteen-pound gorilla who forced her way on a sick man. The hospitals in many South American countries are free. However, you pay for the medicines, needles, tubing, plaster cast, saline or whatever is needed. This system I am sure is the forerunner if not the model for a more controlling, privacy invasive and highly overrated 'cluster-fuck' called Obama Care.

      When you show up at the hospital, you enter a large room with rows of hard, plastic chair. You get in line at the admissions desk to talk to a 'nurse' or person that is acting as a nurse; I never could figure out who did what. Once they saw you, and you explained your problem, the first call of action was to give you a list of what you needed and either yourself or someone with you goes outside to one of the pharmacies near the front entrance and get your supplies. Everyone seemed to have the exact prescription regardless of their ailment. Once a needle and a bottle of Saline is purchased you come back inside and give the package to the 'nurse' at the desk, This desk is right next to the first desk you waited in line at, and she, and or he will in time call you into a small alcove. At this point, the needle is stuck into the back of your hand, and the bottle of Saline leaked into your body.  A Cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol is given most everyone to sniff the fumes. I took a baby sniff and threw mine in a 55-gallon barrel that was supposed to be the trash can.

     You are walked out into the reception area once more and seated once more in another plastic chair up against another wall with makeshift bottle holder that keeps the saline bottle over your head. I noticed that most of these holders were bent clothes hangers or just wires formed into an 'S' shape. Some people who couldn't find a coat hanger just had someone stand beside them holding the bottle up in the air.  After the saline bottle dripped out, which takes about one hour it was time to see the doctor, on call.  In this line, there is a new doctor so it is a new line once again until he can see you. Once inside his small room a quick exam is made, and a diagnosis is made and if needed a new list of scripts, if necessary, must be gotten from the pharmacy. I can almost say with confidence that 99% of the people coming into the emergency go through this procedure.

      Some observations on the emergency room, which was a large, spacy room that was open on two sides. I assumed a massive square concrete, pillar in the center of the room with a sign that said, 'stand here in case of an earthquake,' helped hold up the expansive, roof.  The front entrance had no doors; it is just open to the outside, and the wall on that side of the room are decorative concrete blocks, also open to the outside.  Most of the people entering the emergency room were with small children who were hacking, runny noses and overall miserable in their current affliction.  One man who looked to be in his mid-forties was brought in by an ambulance. He was laid out on a hospital gurney and wheeled up to the admission desk. He lay there on his back, unconscious I might add for what seemed like an eternity; however, I am sure it wasn't over fifteen minutes. Finally, a male 'nurse' whom I named the Angel of Death, came out and looked into his eyes with a small flashlight, pinched his fingernails to see if he was dead, took his temperature and disappeared through the double doors down a hallway. A few minutes later the Angel of Death and whom I assumed was a real 'doctor' came out, and he talked to the wife and looked at the man. At this point, two other people came up, and they pushed the gurney through the double doors, and he disappeared. It seems the man was working on his mother's house and had fallen off the roof and landed head first on some rocks about sixteen feet below. I heard later he had a fractured skull and broken neck. I have no idea if he lived or died since I left the hospital before I could get a report.

      When do I mean when I say I did not get a report?  I mean there is a rumor mill that works the hospital from the moment you come in until you leave. There were a couple of guys with official looking 'PRESS' badges of some kind; they could have made them off a computer for all I knew. They had a little blue vest with multiple pockets, sort of like a blue Wal-Mart Safari Vest, and cell phones that they used as cameras.   They took photos and video of people, especially the ones who came in with a severe injury, then again for all I know they could have been working for an attorney. They ask questions, people, strangers to the afflictions at hand grow near, listening to every word, thus the rumor mill, the report so to speak. One of the three nasty ones I saw this day was a man laying on a slab.  As I said, it was not uncommon for a crowd of onlookers from inside the hospital's emergency room to check out the gory details. This same scenario took place when a young girl who looked to be in her early twenties, was taken out of another ambulance, unconscious with what I assumed to be a brain seizure.  She later appeared, her head drooping, sitting in a wheelchair as she was pushed outside to a waiting ambulance. A few minutes later two more people came from behind the mystery area behind the double doors, one walking, with some help, the other on a gurney. All three were loaded into the ambulance and hauled off to another clinic, or that was the rumor going around. As far I know they could have been heading to the Soylent Green Factory.

     By the way, the emergency room floor was dirty. No! I do not mean it was dirty, I mean it was filthy. There was a thin film of sand or dust on everything. The decorative concrete blocks that made up the wall that leads outside had a fine layer of dust inside the designs. I have to assume the only time they got cleaned or washed off was when a good hard rain was blown in by a breeze.  An empty saline bag, complete with hose and needles lay in one of the plastic chairs in the waiting room the full time I was there. A woman across the aisle from me, who had a needle saline bag and something smaller feeding a needle in her hand, would occasionally cough and gag, turn her head sideways and spit the mucus on the floor between her chair and the one next to it. The puddle grew larger as the hours passed. Two different adult cats prowled the emergency room without hindrance. The orange one I named Doctor Cat and assumed he was in charge of emergency room rat control.  The black and white cat, I took for his assistance.

      Step whatever of Obama care:  After saline solution or whatever is slowly dripping into your veins, you were directed to a third small office for a quick evaluation by another 'doctor.' This doctor made the another decision of some kind. If he thinks you need additional care, you are directed about half a kilometer down a long open-air hallway to another set of offices where more plastic chairs line the wall. Once more you get in line, needle in hand, and your sack of meds besides you, you wait again. Finally, your time comes, and another 'doctor evaluates you,' again I am only assuming he was a doctor, he had a white lab coat and looked concerned when he talked to you.  If this person thinks you needed further care you directed to return to the first waiting area and show the papers given to you down the hallway to the person at the first desk. They typically seemed to read the paper, stand and walk off before returning and asking you to follow them through the mysterious double doors.  Now we are getting somewhere ---- Although I never got to visit area 51 while I was ill.  I did, however, visit this area a few weeks later when a friend's daughter got hurt. She received a skull fracture and was kept for three days. She was in bed in the emergency care area with an unconscious adult male who lay on a gurney in a coma, and he was naked to the world with a thin, sheet made of mosquito netting draped over him from neck to ankles. It left nothing to the imagination. His wife sat in a chair next to him, her face drawn, eyes red and swollen from crying.  Also, in the room was an adult woman laying on a bed with no sheets, and a very young girl who turned out to be her daughter standing next to her bed holding a saline bottle her mother's head.

     The room was large with six beds lining the walls. There were huge windows on one wall without any glass or any way to close them from the outside. I was there in the evening, and the lights attracted numerous large moths and other insects from outside. Not to worry as a cadre of small Chameleon worked the walls with precision and daring.  A lightbox used to read X-ray film was on the wall next to the nurses room; it had no plastic covers over the bulbs. The ceiling fixture looked as if they would come crashing from the heights at any time. Across the hall, a massive room opened directly onto the hallway. A three-feet high concrete block wall kept one from wandering into the area; that is without using the designated opening in the wall. The room had solid walls on each end, but it also was open to the outside on the far side of the room with numerous windows, with no glass opened to the outside. I counted twenty-four beds; all draped in mosquito netting, all full of Malaria, Dengue Fever, and Chikungunya (Chi-coon gun yah) patients.   I have no idea where they keep the next people that come in with the America's newest malady called, IZKA fever.  As of this moment, there were no Zeka Fever patients in Peru. From what I hear, 'rumors' from real doctors that know what they are talking about, this ZEKA Fever is some nasty stuff.

      Let's back up to Obama Care, just before being sent to through the mysterious double doors. Say you are not taken into tomorrow land, but send back to the emergency waiting room where you have to see one more doctor. Again, you sit in a row of plastic chairs; there were only four of them, and the line seems to be moving pretty fast unless the ill who could care less about protocol, bypass the four chairs and push their way ahead of everyone else and stand in the doorway of this doctors office. I have noticed that a certain group of people in the United States, especially the younger to middle aged one think the world owes them something. I try to always, say excuse me, hold the door open for women and old folks. I always attempt to step to the curb and to give room for those who need special care. Besides this ethnic group of Americans I speak of above, I have found that many people from middle eastern countries as well have no social manners. Regardless of color, religion or national origin I always try to hold the door open for ladies or anyone with an arm full of packages, etc. And as they stomp through the portal in their baggy pants, pajamas or polypropylene, stretch pants and a smirk on their face while sending another text messages, I typically give them time for an acknowledgment ---- Not that I need one. However I feel some people think the world owes them something, they are self-centered, users of others, and I want them to know, that I know what worthless assholes they are, so I say,
     "Yeah you're welcome," quite loudly with some sarcasm of course.
     When they bump into me or try to pull a quarterback sack, and jump ahead, even pushing small children, I enjoy stepping to one side and saying,
     "Excuse me, let me get out of your way."

    So what does this have to do with the price of rice in China? I have no idea; I just wanted to give you a heads-up on what to expect from Socialized Medicine and it wonderful care.

P.S.: Don't give up your guns, and never let the bastards grind you down.

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