Week Five! Domingo, cinco semana.
Day Thirty One (trigesimo-primeiro dia)
WARNING: This half of Day Thirty One involves my first experience with the Portuguese healthcare system. I tell my tale unabashedly and without self-censorship (or any kind of censorship). If you would like to skip ahead to the part where John scores and Mira Mar wins… Click Here.
I slept like a baby (why do we use this phrase to imply that we slept well? Babies wake up every two hours, crying) after our delicious bifanas, castanhas, and chicken wings. I got up around 10:00am with every intention to run for about 2:00:00 around the vila with Romeo and then up lomba de alcaide alone. As soon as I went to the bathroom, my good intentions all went out the window. When I was almost done peeing (I warned you!…. you can still skip ahead) it began to burn. BURN. And as soon as I was done, I felt like I had to go again. Ladies? I knew right away it was a UTI. I told John about my pain and he immediately jumped on google. I googled to see if I could take penicillin (I thought I had brought half of an old prescription), which may have helped but I didn’t have any after all. The only thing we did have (other than ibuprofen) is an absolute abundance of prednisone (thanks to John’s flare-ups and my mono). He told me to take a warm bath (no, thank you.. and let the infestation brew? Seemed more like a Petri Dish than a cleanse), told me to put a hot water bottle on it (really? No, thank you), and to take some ibuprofen (yes, please!). The ibuprofen actually did relieve my pain, which I was surprised about. I was pretty sure the pharmacy was closed (John walked down with Romeo to make sure) and I wouldn’t know what to ask for even if it was open. I messaged my dear friend Lina and asked her to take me in the morning (I knew she was driving to the city to see her daughter, and the ibuprofen was helping). I lost my wifi connection (what else is new?) and didn’t see her respond. A few minutes later, our doorbell rang. It was Luisa! Lina’s sister-in-law and my neighbor. She said we had to go to the hospital. I ran upstairs to get dressed and grabbed all the money we had (about 50 euros) hoping it would be enough.
We walked across the street to the hospital, Centro de Saude da Povoacao. The hospital is next to the church. If you missed my map, you can click here. There was one couple in the ER waiting room with their newborn. Luisa told me on the walk over that she had called the hospital and told them I had a UTI and that I was on my way. After filling out some paperwork using my US driver’s license and asking me what number apartment we were (I had no idea… 20? 22?) she told me it would cost €25.90. Considering I am a foreigner with no health insurance in any country, I thought that this was more than reasonable. I guess for Portuguese citizens with insurance, the copay is only €4. The couple and their baby were taken to be seen and we sat down to wait. After about fifteen minutes, the couple came back through the waiting room and left. While we were waiting to be called, Diogo from Pic-Nic came in with a lunch delivery for the nurses. “Are you sick?” he asked. “Just a little.” I responded awkwardly, because what do you say? “My pachenka is on fire, but once I get some antibiotics, I’ll be fine. Thank you for asking.” He reads my blog.
Shortly after that interaction-I-can’t-take-back, we were called. After Luisa kiss-kissed the doctor, we sat down in the exam room across a desk from him. He got up and retrieved a plastic solo drinking cup from a plastic sleeve and handed it to me. “You go pee-pee in the cup, ok?” Luisa translated. I nodded and took the cup. She walked me into the hallway to locate the banho, which we didn’t find on this side of the waiting room. She walked me back into the waiting room and pointed out the sign on the far side of the room indicating the women’s room. I went in, hung my purse, peed in the cup (which didn’t hurt as badly, since I took the ibuprofen!), washed my hands, grabbed my purse, covered the pee-cup-with-no-lid with a paper towel, and walked back through the waiting room with it. Luisa took it from me (no shame!) and handed it to a nurse. We sat back down with the doctor who punched the keys of a desktop computer.
A few minutes of friendly banter between the doctor and Luisa later, his desk phone rang. He began to fill out a prescription form. Luisa translated for me that my test was negative, probably because it was so early. He asked Luisa to ask me if I had any allergies, and then he gave us the prescription and we were on our way.
Luisa didn’t have her cell phone with her, so we stopped over at Pic-Nic where John and Ken were sitting. Ken didn’t have his phone with him, but Luisa saw someone else she knew. He called the pharmacy for us (which is what you do when it is closed), we thanked him and walked to the pharmacy. The pharmacy is across from 7 Lombas rent-a-car/the Pet Shop, and as I said earlier, is closed on Sundays. We waited no more than five minutes and we heard the door buzz. We stepped into the lobby and put the prescription through a small turnstile in the middle of the glass wall. The pharmacist took it, found the medication, rang us up for €3.11, and put the medication through his side of the turnstile. Luisa and I took off with a “Muito obrigada! Boa tarde!” and we walked home. She dropped me off right as John was walking out the door to get picked up by Pedro. She told him to win the game. Thank you, Luisa.