Monday, June 02, 2008

192 Hour Flu

Alternate Title: Flu Shots. Now I get it.

Well, last week was pretty much horrible. I have finally joined the ranks of the living again, although I am still periodically hacking up a lung.

I've never gotten a flu shot before or really even contemplated getting one. That's because I've never really gotten the flu before. I think I'll be the flu shot's biggest fan from here on out. Maybe I'll get a t-shirt that says, "Flu Shot- I *heart* U" or something.

But, the whole experience highlighted something I have really enjoyed about living overseas: the medical care. When we left the States 7 years ago, that was one of the things that I was most worried about, especially since we had two small kids who were prone to getting lots of ear infections. We have had excellent doctors in all the places we have lived (with the exception of Small Town where the medicine was horrible!). All the doctors we have had spoke English and most of them had studied or trained in the States. Some kept up their credentials in the States so they could practice there.

In the three countries where we have lived, doctors tend to be much more user-friendly than they are in the States. Most go by Dr. followed by their first name, instead of their last name. I have not had a doctor who hasn't given me their cell phone number on our first visit and told me that I am welcome to call day or night. I am not the type to abuse such an offer, but with 4 kids, I have taken advantage of it on various occasions.

Here in Brazil, I haven't had a need for a doctor, so last week when I realized I wasn't getting better I called the kids' pediatrician (on her cell, of course) to see if she just wanted to prescribe me something. She didn't feel comfortable doing that, but told me she'd call me back in 10 minutes. She called me back and had lined up an appointment with an urgent care doctor who works in one of the best hospitals here in town. When I got to the hospital I called the doctor (on his cell) and he told me just to wait in the emergency area, but not to register with anyone, that he would come out and find me.

So, he found me and checked me out. He told me it was most likely just the flu and so that I just had to wait for it to pass. :(. I am not a patient patient. I can handle being sick for about 36 hours and then I'm done with it. But, alas, it wasn't meant to be this time.

So, I asked him where I should pay and he said, "No charge, you had to come here and wait for me (I waited about 20 minutes). Just call me if your condition worsens."

Isn't that nice? That just wouldn't happen in the States. And while it was unusual that he didn't charge me, his kindness and availability are very common among Latin American doctors. Over the years I have had doctors make house calls when I couldn't make it to the office, or call me just to check on whoever was sick (the kids' pediatrician checked in on me a couple of times last week). I called our pediatrician in Venezuela for a whole year after we had moved to Small Town, Mexico to ask her for medical advice. The OB's that delivered Juan Carlos (in Venezuela) and Pedro (in Mexico), both arrived at the hospital before I did and stayed by my side throughout my labor and delivery.

Of course, if I were in a life or death situation, I would rather be in the States because of the technology, but, as far as personalized care goes, the US definitely doesn't have the corner on the market. That is something that I will really miss when we eventually move back.

Thanks so much for all of your well wishes!


Ballerina Girl said...

Welcome back Gabs!
Donuts for you tomorrow morning! Don't forget tomorrow is the kids show...just a friendly reminder :)
So true about the Latin American doctors....
I love our pediatrician here! Yea! Something to smile about instead of the crummy weather over the weekend!
Love ya

Awesome Mom said...

I am glad that you are feeling better. The flu is the pits.

Maine Mom said...

I'm glad you're feeling a bit better. The doctors there sound wonderful. No charge? How awesome is that! That would definitely not happen here. And cell phone numbers, first name basis, there's an actual concern and relationship there. Wow!
I did have a family doctor that I loved, loved, loved and she called me a few days after seeing Eleanor one time to ask how she was doing, which took me by surprise because doctors just don't do that. She was so nice and had a genuine concern for our family, but she now practices in a different town, so we don't see her anymore. Doctors like her and the ones in Brazil just don't appear often here. Enjoy them while you can. :-)

Marina said...

I am so gald your doing better I had the flu couple of years ago and ever since I now take the flu shot I am 1st in Line! LOL
Lets call up BG and we can have a tea party with her donunts!:)

Janice said...

Wow you are the first over seas person I know who has said anything good about their medical care. I am glad you have had such great experiences and that you are doing better.

My Full Hands said...

Wow WOW WOW.I can't help thinking this post is fiction. Even with the doctors that I love, I have never gotten personal care like that in the States! So glad you are feeling better.

No Cool Story said...

Sorry you haven't been feeling good. Glad to to know you are doing better.

ITA with my full hands. I guess I have forgotten about that extra personal touch doctors give and how good that feels when you are not feeling good at all. One of the many reasons I love reading your blog is getting those little reminders.

I want to come to the tea party :)

utmommy said...

I HATE the flu. So sorry.

Fabiola said...


I am glad you are feeling better and that you found a good doctor down here.


Ballerina Girl said...

Good morning Gabs...
I know that you aren't great at the tags...BUT I tagged you in my blog!
If you feel like it....
love ya!