Only about one year ago I hurt my fingers while on holidays in Cannes, France. It was just a few days before I was supposed to go home and as I had already had experience with ER in the Cannes hospital I decided to wait to see a doctor until I got home. Only after a sleepless night I realised it was a bit more serious as I thought so I had no choice but to drive to ER.
I was lucky. I thought. I had read in the paper that during summer holidays ER is often very crowded and waiting times are endless. There was only 1 man waiting before me. I was mistaken.
After 2 hours and almost 30 minutes waiting in the smell of a toilet that hadn’t been cleaned in I have no idea how many days, I was finally asked to go inside. They took X-rays and put my fingers in a bandage. I asked the doctor what was wrong with them, but she told me she couldn’t say and I would have to come back in 3 days to get the diagnoses. As I was driving home the next day I told her this is not necessary, so she gave me the X-rays and I left. It took them more them 4 months to send the invoice to the neighbour country Belgium.
Back home I went to my doctor with the X-rays and he said there is no doubt about it : my 2 fingers are broken! He said any medical student could see that at first sight.
That was France.
Now I moved to this 3th world country and my thumb started to hurt. Nothing serious this time, but annoying. I waited and waited for it to pass all by itself, afraid of situations similar or worse then my French experience. But one evening I got tired and decided to “try” and find a doctor. So I walked to Hospital Alemàn. I told the man at the door of emergencias that I had no clue how the system worked but that I wanted to see a specialist. This man was very friendly, showed me to another desk where a man took my OSDE card, put all the information in the computer and explained me where to go.
I expected it to take a whole night : there were 6 people waiting before me! But less then 10 minutes later 3 doctors walked in and after another 10 minutes it was my turn. I tried to decribe my pain in Spanish, and I although I thought I was doing quite well the doctor answered in English. (I tried to convince myself he just wanted to practice his English and that my explanation wasn’t that bad.) He told me what to do and 10 minutes later I was back on the street.
Walking home, I wondered how that was possible. Why on earth did I walk around in pain for so long, if the solution was only 30 minutes away and for free!
At that moment I tried to forget how much I pay OSDE every month. At that moment that was just a minor detail.