Sunday, January 25, 2015

Thank God for our National Health.

We hadn't eaten since lunch and it was just an aperitif away from dinner but nevertheless we hot- tailed it down to the medical centre.
The doctor saw us immediately and said I had to go ashore to the hospital and get my arm x-rayed.

'You must pay the driver - who will pick you up shortly - and pay him 70 euros in cash.  Wait here until he arrives.'

Fortunately I had enough euros on me and Dylan phoned Bubbles to explain we would miss dinner but see him later.

We had a long wait before the driver appeared and he immediately disappeared to conduct some business with the purser on another deck.  It seems he wasn't a taxi driver but an important port official- I'll call him P.I.

After another long wait he reappeared and I paid the 70 euros.  Dylan warned me to get receipts for everything I paid out.  Then he drove us to the hospital- by now it was very dark and there didn't seem to be any clear entrance or car park. ( Incidentally most of the men on Cape Verde Islands are very tall with excellent shapes - which brightened some of the gloom.)

We parked in a dark place amongst some bushes and Dylan and I hung on to each other as we followed P.I.

Once in the hospital we were taken to a desk and a long conversation between the P.I. and the man
behind the desk ensued.  We  couldn't understand a word but finally it seemed I had to pay an entrance fee in escudos.  We didn't have any but he finally accepted some euros and I remembered to get a receipt.  Everyone seemed quite cross and I felt like an alien - but then I suppose I was.

We were shown into a large inner sanctum.  It had pretty eau de nil walls and floor and had flashing lights - a nod to Christmas maybe.  There were odd cubicles around and various people sitting at desks looking official.  Occasionally nursing staff would amble through and disappear into one of the cubicles/ offices but for the most part we were ignored standing like lost souls on the eau de nil floor.  From time to time we would catch sight of the P.I talking earnestly to one of the staff but for the most part they seemed to be blanking him.

'Is it because we're British,' I asked?  But he just wearily shook his head.
There were some seats but people - under the influence of drink or drugs - were lying on them so we remained standing.  We knew we were due to set sail early a.m. and P.I. brought the time forward to get some action - to little avail.

Exhausted we spotted two seats near a side door along side a little girl - about eight years old. She was delightful- her hair in bunches, prettily dressed and absorbed with what must have been a new pink handbag.  From time to time a woman lying on a stretcher on the floor would call her name - something like Madelena.  Madelena tried to ignore it until the bawling got louder and more insistent.
Then she would go to her ? mother and try to calm her down and then come back to sit by us.
 Every now and  then the woman would get up, stagger around and then fall.  She would  be put in a chair and the whole thing happened again.  Eventually she was interviewed and Madelena was taken away.  Our interpretation was that the little girl was going to be taken to a safe place which certainly would not be her mother at this stage.  This really upset Dylan and he had a sleepless night worrying about the little girl and the life she must lead.

From time to time there would be hammering on the locked door near us and I thought this must be similar to  a waiting room for Hell.

We were mesmerised when the doors burst open and a stretcher bearing a young woman who appeared to have been stabbed arrived.  An armed police man completely clothed in black - head covered, face masked,  dark glasses glasses and a lethal looking weapon slung round him accompanied her.  With no sense of urgency some of the staff ambled over and chatted.  I have no idea what they were saying and some thirty minutes later the young woman ceased groaning, got up and walked out.

I'm afraid I groaned out loud when someone sitting on my right was violently sick.  At last we were slowly ushered into one of the cubicles and my arm was x-rayed.  After an hour or so we were told there was no fracture and a soft back slab was applied. Now we were told we had to wait for a prescription.  After more vomiting and another long wait I asked the P.I. why the ship's doctor
couldn't write the prescription.  To his credit he saw the sense in this and we left for the ship.
Also to his credit he stayed in the hospital with us throughout.

By now it was almost midnight but we were able to get a meal.  Bubbles was very relieved to see us and I was so grateful to Dylan for standing by me.

I kept the x- ray  and in the UK everyone who has seen it saw the fracture of the distal radius.  The unfortunate thing was I didn't have a plaster applied until New Year's Eve - back in UK.
Thank God for our National Health.


rashbre said...

Wow. You seem to have had your share of experiences on this trip. And getting a ski-type injury on a cruise ship? Quite unusual, although I suppose the ship's crew have seen everything.

Glad it's recovering. Be safe.

...And Happy New Year!

Kim Ayres said...

What an awful experience. Thank goodness Dylan was with you throughout.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

What an ordeal that was!!! Thank God for Dylan....! The unexpected things that happen on a cruise....I'm glad you are alright, my dear!

Pat said...

Rashbre: believe me I am being VERY careful just now:)

Kim: wasn't it lucky. I don't think I could have coped in the hospital.

Naomi: at least I realise that my dancing days are over:)

Anonymous said...

So glad you are okay, Pat! That must have been awful. Thank goodness for Dylan! xxx

SDC said...

Wow. How does your arm feel now? Dylan sounds like a wonderful travelling companion with an equally nice grandson.

angryparsnip said...

What a huge mess.
I think someone from the ship should have gone with you that speaks the language. They must know what the hospitals are like where ever you were.
Gosh I am so happy your home.
But the long wait for the correct plaster is a worry.

cheers, parsnip

Pat said...

John: at least it gives me something to write about:)

SDC: now it is out of plaster it feels more vulnerable. But better each day. Yes I miss them but Dylan emails every day.

Parsnip: I totally agree with you and when I can find the energy will write to the cruise line because the actual dancing lesson was staged with scant attention to health and safety. An accident waiting to happen. I would hate it to happen to another passenger.

Granny Annie said...

Bless your heart. What a harrowing ordeal and thank God you had good support standing by. One of the reasons Ron and I never signed up for any cruises was because the medical care on those ships is very unreliable.

Z said...

Poor you, what an ordeal. A friend of my age became ill in Madeira and discovered that the Portuguese health service is poor too, or rather his wife did, he was too ill to know. After weeks in hospital there, where they gave him catch-all antibiotics that nearly killed him and where he developed bedsores, he was brought back here by air ambulance and finally diagnosed and treated. I love foreign travel, but I still trust our NHS most! Glad you're on the mend xxx

About Last Weekend said...

Heck, you could teach our writing class a thing or two. Start straight into it and keep em hanging. What an incredible experience. And yes though people criticise the National Health, I always found it great/

Ms Scarlet said...

Oh Pat, you poor thing. And you got to witness the things that most tourists don't.
Long live the NHS!!
I hope your wrist is well on the mend now.

Exile on Pain Street said...

What a harrowing account! That sounds awful. It just doesn't pay to go to the doctor in a third world country. You forget how fortunate we are until something like this happens. Next time, go with the broken arm.

Anonymous said...

And this is why we must fight tooth and nail to keep our NHS.
I hope you are not in to much pain and your arm heals well after not receiving the right diagnose the first time.


Pat said...

Granny Annie: although when Dylan had a painful problem they gave him excellent practical treatment in the middle of the night. I suppose there is tremendous variety from ship to ship.

Z: dreadful experience - poor man. With some of their case histories I'm amazed at the bravery of some people who continue travelling.

ALW: the odd cliff hanger makes it more interesting for me although I know it can be irritating:)

Scarlet: cast is off and I'm trying my best to get it fully functional. N.H. should be good - we pay for it.

Exile: 'go with the broken arm'
I thought I did:)

Helen: I see the physio next week and I'm expecting her to be pleased.

Mage said...

Gosh what a horrifying story. So glad you made it home to your own doctor.

Guyana-Gyal said...

How's your hand, Pat? Is it healing?

The hospital sounds short-staffed. And like a regular day in a public hospital in this neck of the woods. They can be quite traumatic!

I used to think that the ships had fully equipped hospitals!

LL Cool Joe said...

Oh yeah I can relate to all this having spent hours in the A&E with my Dad recently. But the NHS is amazing, mainly because it's free!

I hope your injury heals quickly!

Pat said...

Mage: I actually haven't seen my doctor for a few years and I believe he is now retired. I have spoken to his replacement on the phone and reserve my opinion.
The staff in Musgrove Hospital were very helpful but it was a 60 mile round trip.

GG:it is healing but I'm trying to do my normal work and without the plaster it's a long slightly painful business.

Joey: I hope your Dad is improving. I firmly believe that a large slice of the tax I pay goes to the National Health. And I don't begrudge it.

sablonneuse said...

What an awful start to your holiday and it sounds as though you will live with the consequences for a little while yet.
Hope it's less painful now!

Pat said...

Sablonneuse: thank you. Each week I have more movement and day by day a little less achey.
I did a large iron today.