Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The Stress Involved.
I don't know. It's a long story, but the main point is really this: it takes a lot of nerve to get medical help in a foreign country. To begin with, you have to make phone calls that are only 1/2 in English, 1/2 in Hindi, and you can't be sure the other person is understanding you, especially given the habit of every person in India to yell "Hello! Hello!" into the phone multiple times instead of just saying, "Could you repeat that, please?" You have to find the doctor's office in one neighborhood, then find the lab for blood tests in a second neighborhood, and then the ultrasound office in a third neighborhood. If you don't have a car and driver, this means three or four separate autorickshaw rides, with the same number of fare negotiations, and the same number of attempts at communicating your destination 1/2 in Hindi, 1/2 in English. None of the numbering schemes are regular, no one quite knows where the offices are (although that doesn't stop them from giving directions), and you don't have the right phone numbers to confirm the addresses with the first doctor. The questions the doctors ask here are different from the ones they would ask at home, the forms are different, the medical records are handled differently, the expectations are different. To describe it all would take pages, and you wouldn't believe it, anyway. Suffice it to say that I'm glad my friend, Claire, was with me yesterday so at least I have a witness to my day. I hope this is the last time I have to consult a doctor in a foreign country. Maybe I learned a lot from this cultural experience, but I think I could have lived without that particular bit of knowledge.