Sunday, January 24, 2016

My Turn at Hospital Vicente Moscosco

Today was my turn at becoming a patient at our ever ready and available Emergency Room at the free public hospital, Hospital Vicente Moscosco here in Cuenca, Ecuador.  I got out of the shower as usual and dried myself off, then stepped out as usual to dry my lower extremities - lower legs and feet - and *then* it happened.  

At first I thought I needed to get some object off of the top of my left foot, but then I realized I had hit a gusher of blood!  I had popped a vein right at the skin's surface on the top of that foot, and it was gushing out with a great deal of force, to the point it was hitting the floor and wall area in the bathroom two feet away!  Every time I changed my foot's position, it merely sprayed its red product to a new part of the floor, soiling even more of the room.  

I realized then that I was going to end up in medical shock if I didn't get this thing compressed somehow.  Carolyn Anne had been resting and sleeping in bed up until that moment, and I called out to her that I needed her help now.  She immediately came, and saw what I saw.  She ran to the wired house telephone, and called 9-1-1 (Ecuador has the ECU 911 system in place here, and has for several years).  At first she got a Spanish speaking dispatcher, but then they got an English speaking dispatcher to assist in the call.  Carolyn Anne animatedly but decently enough gave them the needed information on how to get here - it helped that we are located next to a major well known landmark here in town, too.  

Meanwhile, the condo's security phone was ringing repeatedly for some reason.  Once Carolyn Anne applied a tourniquet to my leg and wrapped a towel around my foot, I moved myself to the security phone to find out what was going on in the midst of our own medical emergency.  Some female was saying mostly in Spanish but with some broken English they knew us from our church, and wanted 20 dollars.  I told them we were in the midst of our own emergency, and would not be able to help.  Geesh!  We still don't know who that was. . . or how they knew where we were or what the name of our church was.  A few crazies are here in Cuenca, and a good number of them are typically drunk, we have since learned.  

The Bomberos (EMT Firefighters) were quick to come with their ambulance and came up to our floor with a stretcher and three strong men to assist me.  I was ambulatory at that point, and walked myself down to the building's entrance with them, along with my ID and my water bottle. . . I knew where I was going and had seen it before.  I told Carolyn Anne "I love you!" one last time before going out to the entrance.  We had the good sense to supply me and her with cell phones (including our new smartphone) for this event.  

Once underway to the hospital, I was asked if I was covered under IESS insurance.  "We applied for coverage this month," I replied in Spanish.  "When?" they asked.  "The fifteenth of the month," I told them.  "Oh," they sighed.  They checked with dispatch to see if I was listed in the IESS computerized database yet, and no. . . I wasn't.  Off to Hospital Vicente Moscosco I went.  (Both the IESS hospitals are next to each other and near Hospital Moscosco, by the way).  

I entered a familiar parking circle at the ER - sure enough, it was Moscosco, I soon learned - and I ended up in the same bed location Carolyn Anne had used during her last visit to Hospital Moscosco.  What are the odds of that?  The usual things then took place: getting patient record data, blood type, and so on.  Remember here in Ecuador the patient is the repository of medical records, not the doctor or hospital (or insurance company).  Not like the USA at all.  My foot was cleaned up, bandaged, and once the result of my blood tests were known, I was released to go.  All of that took four hours.  

Carolyn Anne took a taxi a bit later than when I got loaded into the ambulance.  She showered and took her meds before getting into a taxi and getting a call from me to advise her which hospital I was at.  She arrived a half hour later than I did.  One of her friends, a retired nurse like Carolyn Anne, also came to visit for an hour or so.  It's good to have friends while in the hospital.  Here in Ecuador, the nurses don't look after you as comprehensively as they do in the United States.  Family members and friends do that job here, and their presence is valued all the more.  The biggest task they did was refill my water bottle with water, which nurses don't do here believe it or not.  

While we were here, we met two ER staffers, one a female intern in residency, the other a male student from the University of Cuenca who were bilingual in English.  Though they spoke in English to me, it wasn't necessary. . . I understood them and could communicate in Spanish well enough for the occasion as it presented itself.  In fact, my patient intake was done completely in Spanish.  Their bilingual abilities were a comfort to Carolyn Anne, of course, who doesn't yet have the capabilities in the language I have.  

During our visit, we saw a man that tried to get up out of his bed, and he almost fell down in the process.  As it turned out, he was drunk according to the male medical student, and it was a good thing I was observant enough to see what was going on while the student and I were making a bit of small talk.  I alerted the student to the fact this man had gotten out of bed, which probably helped save him from cracking his skull or something as bad.  He thanked me later, of course.  Here in Ecuador, there are no detox centers for alcoholics.  There are a very few rehabilitation facilities for alcoholics - even to the point of using a friend's house for the rehab services rendered - but not a single detox facility exists here.  May God help that unnamed man who almost fell down out of his bed!  I'd never seen that before at Hospital Moscosco, and this was our third visit there in the last two years.  

Currently I am resting comfortably in recovery and will be seeing the cardiologist doc I have been seeing before here in Cuenca to evaluate my foot on Tuesday.  If everything goes well, I will be on my feet and back to a normal schedule - knock on wood - in two week's time give or take.  I'm getting older, and my body's just not as together as it used to be.  

We're making progress though.  We enrolled in the Ecuadorian government's IESS health insurance program, which seems to be well regarded by the indigeneous Ecuadorians as well as expats, and now have a working smartphone (still working on the Skype Voice and Whatsapp apps, though.  Takes time to learn how to use them and so forth).  Two steps forward, and I suppose a step backward for the moment.  Your prayers for my healing and strength for all that needs to be done by Carolyn Anne will be appreciated!

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