Sunday, March 4, 2012

Bad Spain Day...

You know, just because I have a bad day here and there I really shouldn't blame it on Spain.  After all, I have had my fair share of bad days in the US too.  But today, I am actually going to blame my day on Spain.  Spain and it's medical system. 

It's not a bad medical system, just different than what we have at home.  And that's why it's difficult for me to navigate my way thru it.  Because after more than 2 years, I really haven't had much need, thankfully, to go to the doctors here.  But in the last few weeks my needs have changed and therefore I've had to face the challenge head on.

I can't really describe to you exactly how the system here is different because I'm not 100% sure.  That and I'm sure if I actually picked up the phone to call someone at my insurance company (and spoke to them in Spanish) then I might be better informed.  I just know that when I go to Childrens Hospital of Barcelona for the boys, they take our insurance, which is private.  Their dentist is thru the same hospital so it has been a non issue for us.

But Josh and I hadn't been to the doctors here.  We both make appointments for when we are home in the States for our annual exams.  It's worked and thankfully we aren't sickly people and don't often need to go to the doctors beyond our annuals.  However for me, I've had to more recently learn that some things just can't wait til we go home in the States.

I've had some sports related injuries and such lately.  Nothing major, just wear and tear that my body is not appreciating and as the stubborn person I am, I haven't let it rest.  Today, I realized that the pain isn't going away and that I couldn't wait until I go to the doctor in June to get things taken care of.  So off I went to the clinic. 

Now my insurance company has it's own clinics and even hospitals that you can go to.  However, I didn't realize that it meant that if I want to go to a non-Sanitas hospital or clinic that I would have to pay.  I learned that today and it only added to my frustration.  I knew the clinic that I go to was closed on Sunday so I decided to go to the Hospital Sant Pau which is about a 15 minute walk from me and to my knowledge, the closest hospital. 

When I finally got to Sant Pau and waited the 15 minutes in line to check in to urgent care, she took one look at my insurance card and told me that if I wanted to be seen it was going to cost a minimum of 200 euros because this was not a Sanitas hospital.  She told me to call the number on the back of my card and find out which Sanitas hospital / clinic was open today.  So I did... and of course the one clinic was completely on the other side of the city. 

As I sat in the cab on my way to the other clinic, I couldn't help but wonder what I would do in the case of an emergency that required an ambulance.  Would I need to call Sanitas in advance of the ambulance to see if I could go to a certain hospital or would the EMTs ask me if we have insurance and take us to a particular hospital based on that information?  The good news is that I know the Childrens Hospital takes our insurance so at least I'd be set with the kids.  Regardless, it was one more thing that yes, even 2 years into our time here, made me wonder, how do we manage to function here some days??? 

I got to the clinic up in the Pedrables area and waited in line to check in once again.  I had a moment of panic when the guy in front of me was told he could not be seen because it sounded like he just had an ear infection and so the administrator set up an appointment for Monday afternoon.  All I could think of is if they send me home after all this, I may go ballistic.  Thankfully they did not send me home.

But that doesn't mean the appointment wasn't any less frustrating.  I did everything in Spanish and maybe I didn't emphasize the pain in my leg enough, but she basically just told me within 30 seconds and feeling my leg once, that I have tendonitis.  And that I shouldn't run for 4 days (that's totally doable).  Now, I'm not saying that I don't have it.  I just think that 30 seconds is awfully quick to hear background information, feel the impacted area and give a diagnosis.  I was sent home with two prescriptions.

Now because it's Sunday, everything here is closed.  There are a few 24 hour pharmacies in the city and I thought I knew one on Passeig de Gracia, but of course, it was closed.  So I went home empty handed and frustrated with the events of the morning.  I know it's not all of Spain's fault.  I know it's mine for not understanding the system or for speaking the language enough to question a diagnosis or to even just ask questions.  I could communicate enough what the issue was and what I felt had been the trigger to the problem.  But I couldn't ask her why she believed this was the problem, nor any other follow up questions that I would have asked at home.  In the end, I felt I left in a sense, empty handed.  And frustrated. 

I know not every day can be perfect and I don't expect it, but today was just a day where Ahhh Spain doesn't even cover it.  I just want to crawl back into my bed and cover my head and pretend I'm home in the States.  Maybe if I click my heels three times I'll find myself back home.  But no, instead, I'm heading to a 5 year old birthday party...not sure if this day can get any better than that...


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