In Which I Go To the Hospital

Published August 25, 2010 by Christa Maurice

This week has been Orientation so of course I’m sick. I started feeling it Saturday in the bus back from Al Ain and tried to convince myself it was the air conditioning. Because I haven’t been spending lots of time on air conditioned buses lately. Anyway, Sunday I did the full day. Morning meeting at the hotel, afternoon at a model school in Abu Dhabi for small group discussions and Arabic lessons with a half hour break between. I know for a fact that I’m not going to need much Arabic, but I’m a good sport. Especially since in the morning meeting one of the presenters mentioned how much more advanced our questions had been to the ones he’d asked before he came here four years ago. Someone had even asked about whether sparkly nail polish was acceptable. Yeah, that would have been me. We were also told that 20,000 people applied for these jobs and they only hired just over 900.

Monday, after the first session, I came up to my room to take another round of Advil Cold & Flu, which is the only familiar medication I could find. Feeling a little dizzy, I sat down to close my eyes for a few minutes before I went to catch the bus. And I woke up two hours later. Oops. I could have grabbed a cab to the school, but I still felt like I’d been through the Bataan Death March, so I crawled into bed and went to sleep.

Tuesday, I found my small group facilitator to apologize for not being at the afternoon sessions the day before thinking I had screwed up big time. I was a little surprised that they hadn’t called to find out where I was. Koreans would have called, repeatedly. Liz said, “It’s not that important. You need to take care of your health first.” Wow, I am so not in Korea anymore. Then I bumped into Precious who I had seen with a tissue to her nose Monday morning. She said she tried to go to the afternoon sessions, but they pulled her out of the group, made sure she had cab fare on her and sent her to a pharmacy. (I’m pretty sure if she hadn’t had cab fare on her, they would have given her some.) So I blew off the afternoon sessions hoping if I slept enough I’d get better.

Wednesday, we were supposed to tour the Sheik Zayad Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the world and then in the evening we were being bused out to Al Ain to tour the Islamic Center and have an Iftar feast. (Iftar is when the daily Ramadan fast is broken.) We weren’t scheduled to get back until nearly 11 and I knew I didn’t have that long a day in me, but I did want to tour the mosque. At least I did, until I couldn’t fall asleep until nearly 2 because I couldn’t breathe and couldn’t get comfortable, then woke myself up sneezing at 5 and woke up again at 8 to see the buses being boarded as I brushed my teeth for breakfast. In my ill haze, I had misread the schedule. I thought they were leaving at 9, which means 9:30 around here. Since I’d missed that and my “cold” had done that thing where it gets better and then gets worse proving it’s a sinus infection, I decided to try out my health insurance.

I took a cab to Al Noor Hospital and got ushered into a elevator before I realized I had no idea where I was going. Fortunately, the lady on the elevator with me spoke fluent English and was able to direct me to the ENT clinic. The clinic didn’t open until 10 and it was only 9:15 when I arrived so I had plenty of time to observe the room. I thought it was a little odd that the floor was linoleum when all the other floors (like every floor in the country) were marble. I also thought it was odd that all the interoffice memos were in English. In Korea, I tended to bully my doctor. Not on purpose, I was just being an American who is involved in her treatment. I would walk into Dr. Park’s office tell him what I thought was wrong with me and he’d write the prescription. My Emirate doctor was less impressed the my diagnosis. He listened and patiently repeated just about everything because the infection is messing with my hearing and during Ramadan you are supposed to speak more softly than normal. He did a very thorough exam using equipment that looked about 20-30 years old in design. Doesn’t mean it was that old, but that was the look of the stuff. Once he’d looked at my ears, nose and throat, he sent me across the hall to a Filipina who stuck a thing in my ear that made an annoying humming and apparently told her (and the doctor) that my infection hadn’t moved into my ears. He gave me a prescription for an antibiotic, a nasal spray and a pain medication. In the US, I just wouldn’t have filled the prescription for the pain medication. I don’t need it. I don’t have pain. (It’s also just a time release Panadol. Pft.) But all three were on the same piece of paper. I paid the nurse for my office visit (30Dhr) and she sent me next door to the hospital pharmacy to fill the prescriptions.

At the pharmacy I had to turn in my prescription and take a number. My name was called before my number came up so I collected my prescriptions and went to the cashier to pay. Now I’ve been collecting change because I haven’t had the brain power to figure out which coins mean what. Most everything is an even dirham, but here and there I’ll end up with partial dirhams which are called fils. There’s 100 fils to a dirham and there are coins for 1 dirham, and fifty, twenty-five, ten, five and one fils. Fifty and twenty-five I know I had. I think I had a ten in there too, but the only time I’ve actually seen the five and the one were in a restaurant when Karen asked to see them and the cashier told her she could keep them because they’re essentially worthless. (Cashiers will round off your total rather than give you low coins.) I was dragging around ten pounds of change, sick and my total came to 23.50 Dhr so I pulled out a fifty dirham bill and the whole pile of change. Picking out a fifty filnI asked her if that’s what it was and she said, “Wait a minute, you have the three there too” and she picked out all my little coins until she had the 3Dhr.

So now I have medication and hopefully by the weekend I’ll be feeling better. I hope so because rumor has it that they’re moving us to Al Ain Saturday and at that point I’ll have to furnish an apartment which I’d rather not do impaired. I’m also hoping they have our bank accounts set up and our housing allowances deposited in them to I don’t have to do all that in cash.

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4 comments on “In Which I Go To the Hospital

  • I did the conversion for the office call. Wow, wish mine was that low. Sounds like you are doing well though and handling the money well. Hope you feel better by the time you have to move to Al Ain on Saturday.

    • It is super cheap. Somebody else said she went in for food poisoning and all her prices were similar even though she had blood work.

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