Medical Help Aboard
We still need to visit Doctors when travelling.
I had to arrange a regular check up (that is important to women) while in Ecuador.
Noel had just spent a day in the local ‘hospital’. At the end of this article there’s a short excerpt of that little escapade. By the end of that day, it was I that needed medical attention!
The Doctor I arranged to visit either sensed my unease, or was just the consummate professional – a bit of both perhaps.
We sat and chatted and he wrote background notes. His family photos were strewn around the shelves behind him.
He picked up a picture and explained he had two daughters and a wife. He then picked up the phone and dialled a number. I wondered if he was getting a nurse to assist with the examination.
‘Here, talk to my daughter,’ he suddenly said, handing me the phone. Surprised, I chatted with a complete stranger for several minutes. I don’t even remember what we talked about – but she put me at ease.
This, I realised, was the Doctor’s ploy. He understood I was a woman about to become very personal with a strange man, in a foreign country.
What followed was the most professional and clinical examination I have received anywhere in the world.
Travelling is not just about the latest tourist attraction – it is about the locals, how they live and how they interact. This is one of my precious memories – a kind-hearted, professional Doctor in Ecuador.
Excerpt from This Is It – 2 hemispheres, 2 people, and 1 boat
He spent four hours on a drip in the hospital, but it felt like several days to me.
Cluttered together within the cool, clinical infirmary, a dozen green rooms branched out from the grey corridor. Nurses quietly squeaked past on their soft shoes, as if little hamsters were warming their toes and squealed when trodden on. With most rooms sitting empty, Bahians must be healthy people.
Short on modern technology, the hospital didn’t accept credit cards. I needed to organise a cash payment of about one hundred dollars. Noel spent the afternoon in his air-conditioned room with TV and the rehydrating drip. I marched the fifteen minute walk back to the boat in suffocating humidity to collect Noel’s credit card to take to the bank to withdraw money.
I rarely use my card, so I had forgotten the number. I was the last one to use Noel’s card, and I had put it in a safe place. I tore the boat apart looking for his card. Then I panicked, thinking it must have been stolen. I jumped in the dinghy, trying to ignore the sweat running between my breasts and drove back to shore frantically, nursing our temperamental engine.
This sounds a simple task, but handling our large inflatable dinghy and naughty outboard motor was a battle. Starting an eight horse power outboard takes a fair amount of arm-pulling grunt. The cord needed to be yanked hard with great speed and in one movement to cause the right parts to spin. Arm muscles grew rapidly and lopsidedly. I could only pull with my right arm; my left hand hung on to the motor in an attempt to stop me flicking myself over the side in the violent manoeuvring. More problems arose as the outboard wouldn’t idle, so I had to start it with high revs and be quick enough to bring them down as the engine fired into a deafening screech.
It’s tricky to pull it all off. You need to be tied on to the boat as the current would carry you half way out to sea if you didn’t start the motor on first pull. I never started it on first go, and to whip my arm back and stay balanced with that jerky movement, while the dinghy lurched forwards and backwards due to the taut line, was a feat. After balancing in a standing position while untying the line from the fighting dinghy, you had to keep the motor going until you reached the dinghy dock.
I needed to sit farther forward to help balance the craft, but couldn’t leave the throttle; it needed constant nurturing – too fast and the bow shot in the air, and I couldn’t see where I was going; too slow and the motor would cut, causing a wild and frantic cord pulling-balancing act to save myself from being swept away out into the ocean.
If all went accordingly, as I approached the dock, I needed to time the slowing of the engine (and therefore it cutting out) at exactly the right moment – too soon and I didn’t make it to land and the whole process commenced all over again; too fast and I rammed the jetty with a red face, bounced off and began the entire process once again! Life wasn’t dull.
Safely on shore, using Skype, I cancelled Noel’s card. While waiting on the line for confirmation, I fiddled with my small camera case.
‘Okay, that’s it. I’ve cancelled Noel’s card—’ the helpful lady at the bank said.
‘Wait! Hang on! I’ve just found… Blast,’ I muttered as the line disconnected. I don’t carry a bag or wallet, but I do carry my camera in its case, which is a great place to stash a credit card temporarily!
‘Hello, hello again, I was just speaking to someone there, just a moment ago, I cancelled my husband’s card, but I’ve just found it!’ I blathered, feeling sure they’d trust me.
‘Sorry, we can’t reinstate it.’
….. and so it went on, it actually became worse before it got better!