I won’t bore you with the details of why I had to go to the ER .. Lets just say that intense pain in the region of where I think my kidneys reside, in conjunction with a google search on the topic, and when you know that the nearest good hospital is almost an hour away, you have to make a decision quickly.
It is a pretty easy decision to drive for 45 mins to the private Vivian Pellas hospital in Managua rather than go to the local Japanese hospital which we have been told is to be avoided at all costs. At the private hospital we pay $500 each a year which provides a medical “insurance” for all services offered at the hospital. This is my first trip to an ER for myself, ever, either here or in the US.
When we arrive, I am the ONLY person in the ER. It is eleven o’clock on a Saturday night and the place is quiet as can be. No wait! Memories of 2 hour long waits with my kids in Chicago flash into my mind. The hospital is large and clean and does not have the usual “hospital smell”. After I meet with the doctor and describe my ailment in Spanish, using the dictionary to find the right word for kidneys, and a urine test, I am on my way home with a prescription and appointment with a specialist for during the week. (Total cost $50 for the ER, and $20 for the taxi.) Now of course this is a private hospital, and if I had gone to a public one I would have had a very long wait and a different level of care.
When I arrive a few days later for my appointment I am the only one in the office. No one else waiting, just me. The doctor tells me that in this climate everyone should be drinking 12 glasses of water a day and that clearly I had not been doing this and therefore all my problems were most likely the result of dehydration. He gives me his personal cell phone number and tells me I could call him anytime of day or night with any questions I might have. I did not call him, but we did email back and forth about medications and all in all the whole experience was very different to anything that I have ever had in the US.
For one thing, and I hate to generalize, yet many doctors in the US have a certain arrogance and I have yet to experience this same attitude here in Nicaragua. Quite the contrary. Upon leaving my final check up a week later I thank the doctor for his emailing with me and for giving me his phone number and he looks very surprised that I should be thanking him for this and says, “Well of course…. YOU are my patient, and I am your doctor. ” To which I say, “In the United States doctors don’t give out their email or their cell phone numbers.” He says “Yes I know. This is Nicaragua. It’s a wonderful country don’t you think? Just too hot!”