On Empty Bottles and Chilean Clinics

I’ve been a bit AWOL lately because I haven’t been feeling the best. The troubling good news is that I’ve been able to observe the Chilean health care system from a patient’s point of view. And let me say, I understand now why the receptionists at the clinic I go to have an extra serving of bitch flakes in the morning. The patients are all pricks. (Before anyone gets angry, realize that this is in my very narrow, limited experience.) Moving on…

I had to go this morning for some blood work and a urine sample. There! I said it. I took this blog to a new low by saying “urine”. My urine. Try it sometime. It’s fun!

Of course, I arrive, take a number, and look around and see no one waiting. There are also three receptionists doing nothing. Just sitting there, their eyes rolling back into their skulls. Even though I have 32 and the ticker reads 24, I decide to walk up anyway. I hand her the doctor’s list and she looks at me like I’m the biggest moron on the planet, clears her throat abruptly, and says, “I haven’t called any numbers.”

I look around, “But you also aren’t doing anything.” Warning: Never say that to a Chilean receptionist! Even if they aren’t doing anything, they are doing something. It makes more sense if you don’t think about it. It’s a good thing that being sick has made me hate people and I’m impervious to their snide comments.

I wait as they they call the numbers and some people materialize, and some numbers appear ownerless, of course. Finally, it’s my turn. When I get to the receptionist she immediately becomes confused because I hand her my passport instead of my Chilean ID card ( I’m in the process of renewing it and I lost the old one…GOD FORBID!!!). That, according to her, is a HUGE problem because the tests were ordered using my Chilean ID number and you can’t just change that stuff! How irresponsible! Finally, she tells her supervisor on me (shame, Sara, shame!), sighs, and lets me get along my way.

Eventually, they call me back to a “box”. Before I get there, two teenage boys who reek of booze arrive at my box. The tech looks at them dubiously, “You don’t look like a señorita.” I love how I still get called señorita every once in a while, when they don’t realize that I’m married.

They burst out laughing, “Oh, hahaha! How do you know? HAHAHA! Where do we wait? HAHAHA? Oh, you, like, need a number?” At this point, my blood sugar is low enough (I had to go in fasting, of course) and I have to pee so bad, I’m swimming, that I could have screamed at them myself (read earlier comment on hating people). However, the tech tells them off for me. Bless her cranky heart!

She draws my blood, and it is surprisingly painless. Then she looks down the list of the tests and says, “Your doctor ordered a 24 hour urine collection. Did you understand that?”

“Yes.” NO!

“Good. You need to find a bottle. We usually recommend a Coca-Cola bottle, and collect everything for 24 hours.” She hands me some instructions.

I had this test done when I was younger and the clinic in the U.S. gave me an ugly but functional brown watering can-like device for the “collection” process. But an empty Coke bottle? My always snarky inner monologue wants to interrupt, ” But won’t that mess up the glycemic count?” Yet, I refrain myself.

I’m tempted to show up tomorrow with one of these: Full. Of Coke. Then be all, “What? I like Coke. A lot. My bad.”

Guess what I get to do tomorrow? Find a bottle and carry it around all day or store it in the fridge to act as a real conversation starter. I sure do know how to have fun, don’t I?

12 responses to “On Empty Bottles and Chilean Clinics

  1. What a strange experience lol

    • I bet everything is terribly efficient in Sweden, like you have real collection bottles, not Coke bottles. Am I right?

      • Something like that!! I always think that I am a bit under culture shocked because things are so “normal” here! (Of course there are many differences but I have never had to pee in a coke bottle or watch my food get butchered etc)

  2. Could it be, perhaps, you’re preggers? did I say that out loud?? ;)

  3. Oh, sorry, hun, but I couldn’t help but giggle at this. A Coke bottle? What? Haha.

    It reminds me of going to see the neurologist a few years ago with a Gaviscon bottle full of my urine for them (Yup, see? I’ve lowered the tone with the mention of urine too ;-)).

  4. Um, make sure that you rinse the bottle out really well so no Coke residue interferes with your test.

    Hope that you’re feeling like yourself again…soon.

  5. Ok I’m new to your blog so I obviously missed a couple of things. Can you catch me up? If you are an American why do you live in Chili and secondly those test sound like you are diabetic. Is that correct? I’m diabetic and they make me do those stupid test all the time. if you have a second and want to answer my questions my email is melyndafleury@yahoo.com

  6. I am cracking up!!! I’m new here but love your humor. I’d carry in the biggest bottle you could find. :) Thanks for stopping by my blog yesterday for my SITS Day. You made it special.


  7. I’m sorry you’re not feeling well! A coke bottle though – really?
    I was pretty surprised in Australia when they made me go by my own shot from the pharmacy and bring it to my doctor’s appointment two weeks later.

  8. As a nurse, this makes me both laugh hysterically and think how poor other countries health care is at the same time. Good luck!

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