Thursday, April 19, 2007

Sad but true

The medical system in Portugal is getting to my nerves. The first contact with it was when I was happily enjoying an Indian teahouse and my neighbor called to tell me she was feeling very bad and that the doctor from school told her to go to some clinic she couldn't even find on the map. So we were looking for the clinic for about two hours and when we get there it was terrifying. First of all it was full and although you had to take a number, nobody respected the order (quite strange, since Portuguese stay in line for almost everything). The floors were dirty and the smell of medicine and disinfectant was overwhelming. It's true I was very hungry too and maybe that's why I felt so sick, lucky that while waiting I went to have diner (my first francesinha... mmm). Not that the waiting was not also long... and then the doctor said she has to go to another clinic because he doesn't have any equipment to make a proper consultation. The next days she was walking from one clinic to another, one evening she spent around six hours in the hospital's emergency room. And all for a stupid easy to treat infection.
But now it's my turn. Around the 20th of March I went to the emergency room of a hospital with severe abdominal pain. I had to wait to get registered (slow process... especially since my Portuguese is not perfect at all), then to speak to a nurse, then to the doctor, then to make some test, then to make an ultrasound, then again to speak to the doctor, then to wait for the exams of the test, then speak to the doctor again (who invited me to lunch the next day, thing that was more than shocking and offensive, but this is another story). The only thing they could say is that I should go to the clinic nearby my residence to speak to a doctor for further analysis. So I went to the clinic, they said I need an insurance number, because I have the right to free medical assistance and it's not worth to pay and use later my other insurance policy. So they called to another clinic. And I went to this other clinic to be told that I have to contact the medical insurance organism in my country to ask for my social security number. Luckily, my mother gave a chocolate to the right secretary and I got my number. And then I went back to the second clinic to get a consultation. It's not as easy as it seems. I waited one hour to get registered. Then I spoke to the nurse, the nurse spoke to the doctor to approve a consultation, then I got a number, then I saw the doctor, then she told me... guess what? That I have to go to a private clinic for more tests. So I went downstairs to speak to a secretary to get the address of a such clinic and I went that day to make an appointment... the closest they could get me in was 3rd of May. Well, I didn't give up. Today I found another clinic and made an appointment for tomorrow. Not that I don't still have pain almost every night. After that I will go back to the clinic and go through the whole two-hours registration and consultation dance. But hey, when I started to make my papers for Erasmus, I got trained for this... I'm going from one office to another since October. So long live bureaucracy! I don't have to fight the system. I've already adapted to it.

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