06 February 2007

Adventures in Portuguese: The Medical Clinic

Recently Maputo has had a lot of rain and wind. The rain is good. The wind not so good, because the city is built on sand.

Between the sand and my allergies to dust, my eyes are red by the end of the day. Last night, I was sitting in Changaan class and couldn't figure out why my right eye felt like someone had punched it. When I got home I noticed that the eyelid was swollen but I chalked it up to a developing stye. This morning when I woke up, I could barely get my eye open the lid was so puffy. At this point, lacking a stye, I was thinking pink eye. Fun times.

I walked over to the Sommershield Clinic, about 3/4's of a mile from my apartment. Its a very good private medical clinic that most foreigners use if they have medical issues (emergency or otherwise). I was hesitant to go because (1)I hate going to the doctors, and (2)I wasn't sure that my Portuguese was up to it.

Why do I hate going to the doctors? I don't hate doctors, its just that going usually means I'm sick and I really hate being sick. Hospitals are even worse - because if I'm not sick, someone I probably care about is. As a result, I don't go to hospitals to visit a friend unless they are really in a bad way or just had a baby (which could be considered in a bad way ;-P). Anyway, I got to reception and was immediately confronted with my dearth of advanced Portuguese. In Portuguese a 5 year old would use, I explained that I believed I had conjunctivitis and said I didn't have an appointment in Portuguese. The receptionist handed me a form in English and Afrikaans, all the while speaking to me in Portuguese. I understood her. So far, so good.

After filling out the form, I waited about 40 minutes before being sent back to an office. I sat down, took off my glasses, pointed at my swollen eye and got out about 2 Portuguese sentences out explaining what I thought was going on before the doctor asked if I wanted to speak English. The doctor flashed a light in both eyes looking for dirt and infection. Then he asked, "Have you eaten anything strange recently?"

Well, hmmmm... Define strange. Define recently. I can think of a lots of strange food I've eaten in the past month - just because I've moved to another continent. The only thing I can think of was the mafurra fruit (Trichilia emetica) I bought on Tuesday and ate a little of on Friday. I only ate about 5 pieces before deciding that it was a little too bland and mealy. The picture shows the fruit in pods which contain several pieces.

I really can't think of any other strange thing that I have eaten recently. Of course, T. emetica bark is used as fish poison and oil from the seeds is both eaten and used as soap. Personally given my allergies to dust and mold, I think that the dust blowing around the past week is the culprit.

Anyway, the doctor perscribed Loratadine and an eye ointment containing tetracycline (just in case). I told him that I had a supply of Loratadine that I brought with me from the States. He seemed surprised that I could get it at the grocery store. Then I had to pay and get my perscription for the ointment. Another round of negotiations in Portuguese (no wonder 5 year olds aren't considered capable of looking after their own health), I got my perscription and headed home with only a few linguistic bruises and a puffy eye.

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