Saturday, 27 April 2013

Today I... was in a Greek Public Hospital

Prewarning: This is not a light hearted article as it does give mention to my bowel movements. Apologies in advance. (Don't worry, there are no picture.)
Day 1:

Today I am writing from a hospital bed. What is scarier than being in a hospital? Being in a foreign hospital. For the past 26 hours I have been in the General Hospital of Arta, which is aptly placed aloft a fairly large mountain. Currently, I have 3 courses of medication queued up for an illness that I thought (and they assumed) was not so serious. From my wrist is the passage in which the medication is currently being channeled into my blood and at the place of insertion, there is a slight sting; not enough to cause alarm but enough to let me know it’s there. But I guess when you are looking at affairs of an intravenous nature it is safe to say that a little more caution is due. Another matter for concern is that my fingers on my left hand have turned blue as if they have been starved of blood. Surely you can trust these nurses. According to common opinion, you cannot.

Six hours after my admittance, I met the only native speaking English person in my ward; an Australian woman who had been there for a week. She explained to me that the nurses were very rude to her at times and many of them struggled to make injects to take blood. Apparently, they can be very catty, display shocking acts of racism and could be underqualified and uncaring. There was an Albanian woman in the Emergency ward, waiting for four hours in pain, before she was treated. They occupied themselves with every Greek person before they came to her, despite the order of service and severity.  Some of the stories my friend told me shocked her. One of the nurses asked if she was Albanian, which - she gathered by the nurse's facial expression - was a question that could potentially dictate her future treatment in the hospitally. My friend simply asked her whether her illness was Albanian. Embarassed, the nurse never gave her a problem direcly, from that point on. Only vicariously.

Certain nurses had terrible needle ability. I never saw any real problem with insertion apart from the constant discomfort. With the slightest movement, I could feel the needle point moving and putting pressure on my vein wall via a bruising pain. The moment the nurse connected the drip to my wrist, initially the vein became swollen and changed to a deep red colour which I was pretty worried about. I called the nurse over to consult her and she just said that it was nothing and walked away. Although, some of the nurses spoke good English, they insisted on speaking to me in Greek. This left me confused and feeling isolated. I don't mind that they were speaking their own language in their own country. I am completely fine with that, and am against the English attitude that has been passed down through the ages to just expect things. The only thing that I felt let down by, in this situation, was the fact that these nurses did speak relatively good English; country miles better than my Greek. In regards to bedside manner, explaining things to me in fairly competent English would have been preferred over me picking out one or two words out of a sentence in my pidgeon Greek. My employer informed me that these hospital folk were to proud to expose themselves to making mistakes, and a number of friends said that it is common for them to feel superior to us normal folk who get ill and sick.

For instance, at around 9pm I was tucked in bed fast asleep and I was awoken by a female doctor and her pride of nurses. She asked me about my condition and symptoms. I explained to her that I had black diarrhea and a light head. The way the conversation continued was compeletely amazing on a multitude of levels.

Doctor: Black like this? (Pointing to her keyboard, which was black.)
Me:      Yes.
Doctor: Black like this? (Pointing to something else black.)
Me:      Yes.
Doctor: This is black, yes?
Me:      Er, yeah, like cola. (I made this judgement due to the fact that it mixes with urine when
            I use the bathroom.)
Doctor: Cola isn't black.
Me:      (Pause in bemusement as Doctor swiftly leaves without any note of assurance or explanation
            of my current condition.)

I can understand that you can read this as her trying to make sure that she fully understood the word black in English, displaying a level of modesty in her knowledge of the English language, but I had said the word black in both English and Greek to her. It wasn't what she said, it was the way she said it. Her tone was demeaning and patronising, making me feel stupid and insecure. It was as if she thought that I didn't know my colours. Her register toward me I found disgusting. I have spoken to a lot of people who admit that public hospital are awful for hospitality. Most of the time you can hear the nurses laughing and joking in the corridors. From inside the room it feels like I am overhearing a Carry On film. According to multiple sources, these nurses like a good ol' bitch too...and I witnessed it first hand.

It was 1am and I was fast asleep. I had struggled to sleep because the arm attached to the drip kept moving when my body relaxed and the pain would shock me awake. After finding a position with a little leeway and got some slumber. Little did I know that after an hour of snoozing four nurses and two doctors would come in, turn all of my lights on and have a good natter. From what I could pick out, they were laughing (very loudly) at other patients throughout the ward and a little bit of romance was also in the air. I rolled over and sat up in bed and simply watched them. They ignored my presence. I can only guess that they chose my room because I don't speak Greek and they felt that they could say whatever they wanted. They kept me awake for around 15 minutes before exiting the room, leaving my door wide open and all my lights on.

I was under the impression that I was to be discharged the following morning. I had been misinformed.

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