I’ve spent my entire life in the doctor’s waiting room. My mom used to think I should be a doctor, because I was constantly in and out of the doctor’s office. But then again every mom wants her son to be a doctor. Thing is, I hated being in the doctors office. The magazines are always out of date.
Unfortunately, life here in Guatemala is hard on the body. Over the last two years I’ve had parasites, fungi (they aren’t fun), amoebas, intestinal infections (dropped 10 pounds in a week), bronchitis, strep (this may have been a misdiagnosis), and a bladder infection which may’ve been caused by kidney stones. The latter was the hardest to diagnose. Or maybe it should have been the easiest, but the problem with going to doctors down here is that my Spanish isn’t that good yet and most don’t speak English. Do to all of my random illnesses, I have been forced to read out of date Spanish magazines. And with all of these visits to the doctor I have learned a lot, maybe even earned my medical license in professional patientry. My mom’s dream of me becoming a doctor might’ve died on the emergency table, but I’ve gained a wealth of information I’m willing to share. So drop your copies of Better Homes and Gardens dated from June of 2001 and enter my office of knowledge and read my top ten things I have learned while going to the doctor.
10. If you didn’t understand what the doctor just said in English you probably wont understand what he is about to say in Spanish, so don’t respond with a yes to any of his questions. If you do, you might end up with a shot in the butt that you didn’t need.
9. When you have an appointment scheduled for 8am on a Saturday morning, don’t show up until 9am. Because, just like any social function in Guatemala, where no one is expected to show up until an hour after they tell you to, the doctors wont even show up on time. (For exceptions to this rule see #3)
8. Now, you’ve wised up and decided to bring a translator to your next appointment. No more shots in the rear, right? So, If your doctor tells your translator that you have a strep infection in your bladder (can that even happen?) and ignores the questions about kidney stones, you’ve been warned. But then after your appointment if he is talking to your boss and changes his apparent diagnosis to over working out, it’s time to change doctors.
7. Always bring a translator, always. Or when making your payment to the doctor, always request the proper receipt. This also applies when you buy your medicine at the pharmacy. Guatemalan Insurance companies can be difficult.
6. I’ve always thought doctors are supposed to be experts on physical health, but Guatemalan doctors don’t seem to be much into physical fitness. They believe that working out and staying in shape will harm your immune system and result in random illnesses. I wonder what med school they learned that in.
5. Always say a prayer when you have a bladder infection and are having an ultrasound on your bladder and have been asked to drink a lot of water right before the test and you feel something warm leaking down your leg.
4. If asked to do a 24 hour urine sample, don’t drink a ton of water the day before or you might need another gallon jug.
3. The exception to rule number 9. If the doctor’s lab says they close at 5 pm, then they close at 5 pm. In Guatemala if they show up late it’s okay but if you show up late you just need to come back the next day.
2. If you know a doctor speaks English, go to her for a check up. She probably wont misdiagnose you like the doctor who only pretended to understand English. And if you’re lucky She might also try to set you up with a doctor friend of theirs that wants to practice English!
1. Don’t pull your pants down until the doctor tells you to. Spare yourself from the awkward situation of having your pants around your legs and the doctor not needing to check anything down there for another five minutes.