Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Tuesday at an emergency room

Rebellion - there is always a price to pay for it, isn't there?

I was slightly rebelling yesterday against the institute's blended day: there are three of them every first week of the program to help new program participants cleanse their bodies, and one day the second week. They are appreciated by program participants, but for some staff they can get slightly boring with time, as it did for me yesterday, so I was rebelling: first eating almost nothing the entire day and in the evening going to supper at one of the nearby roadstands. Usually, I was told, the road stands in Puerto Rico offer tasty local fare, but I got yesterday far more than I bargained for : an e-coli, most likely in the spring sallad!

I was sick like a dog all night, so sick, I thought I was going to die. I was unable to leave the bed and thought - wise after the damage - that, especially considering that I live alone - I should have been far better prepared for an emergency. As it were, I was in a new place, and haven't yet recorded any of my new colleague's and new local friend's private phone numbers, so I had nobody to call for help, my apartment was locked from the inside so nobody could get to me without breaking out the door if I was unable to open it myself, and - worse of all - I forgot to place my cell phone on my night stand and for many, many scary hours I could not get up and reach it even to call 911.

I was conscious all that time, save for an awful abdominal pain etc. (I'll best spare you the disgusting details), but when I tried to even sit on my bed , I felt so dizzy, that I could not get up, until finally, many hours later, I managed to sit down, then raise myself to a near standing position and... fell on the closet door. From there, one painfully small step after the other, feeling like on an out of control merry-go-round, hugging the closet, then a wall, I was finally able to reach the bathroom.

Then, on my way back, now a tad more experienced in that - walking the walls - skill, I ventured a long trip to the apartment door, unlocked it, and grabbed my cell phone from the dining room table on the way back to my bed. Then I was too exhausted for a few more hours to use the cell, but when I did, I called my employer, left a message and fell asleep.

In the morning I discovered how caring both my employer and my coworkers were: one of the director's Leola Brooks (called by all here "everybody's favorite grandma") visited me, helped me to check my blood sugar (which was awfully high due to infection) and my blood pressure (which was stratospheric) and suggested gently that I should go to an emergency room immediately.

I agreed and she helped me to get dressed and dispatched a bilingual colleague with me to the emergency room in Rincon. And when I came back from the emergency room I discovered that the institute's housekeeping staff has not only cleaned the mess I made that night, but my entire apartment, and washed and dried my bed linens and towels. Boy, was I grateful.

At the emergency room I was immediately examined by a doctor ( who was informed of my high blood pressure and all other symptoms even before I arrived) and then put in a bed for observation, hooked to an oxygen tank, given a drop, an EKG, taken a battery of blood - and other tests - given a medication and .... realeased after about 5 hours, feeling almost human again. I was instructed to be carefull eating sallads at rodside stands.

The emergency room bill was - perhaps - the biggest shocker: $ 95 for all that! Full price, for the uninsured, since my employee's health insurance has not kicked in, yet.

Can any of you, living in the USA believe that?

There are benefits to be "just" a commonwealth territory, and not a state: efficient, effective and extremely affordable health care for all!


Jen said...

Oh my gosh, Minerva! How awful and frightening. But how incredible that you got such good care so cheaply. Wow.

By the way, we will be in San Juan from Dec 3-7. So I am afraid we will miss you! This is going to be a shop a thon for house things: faucets, hinges, etc. Boring but necessary.

I am so glad you are ok.

Minerva said...

I am sorry I'll miss you this time - since you are coming during my work week and between my two extra vacations - Thanksgiving and Christmas.:-)
But it sounds like you have solved the real estate dillema if you are buying stuff for "the"? house.
Don't keep us in suspense, please.

Jen said...

I am sorry we will not see you this time.

We are buying a postage stamp sized piece of land to build a cottage. It appears the lawyers will have to quarrel with the government about money for Wit's End. So we are going to proceed with a small place that will either be our permanent very small house, or become a rental. Either way, we will at least be doing something besides moaning!

Minerva said...

Good for you! Sounds exciting.