Friday, February 3, 2012

Office Celebration, a Trip to the Emergency Room, and a Birthday Dinner

Well, turning 30 has certainly been an adventure so far.

On Tuesday my bosses had cake and champagne to celebrate my and 2 coworker's birthdays.  They're both really thoughtful people, and it was a really nice way to come together and celebrate.

Then for my 30th birthday I had a surprise trip to the emergency room.  I was out walking near Plaza Italia, and I was walking down a step.  The ground that I stepped onto wasn't even, and I twisted my ankle.  There was a railing along the entrance to the metro right there, and so I leaned up against it.  A guy was riding his bike and saw what happened, and he stopped to help me.  He walked me over to a police van and helped me get in.  The policeman was helping a woman and a child at the time, so I sat and waited for about 5 minutes.  Then a few other policemen came and I explained the situation.  They helped me into a police car.  At this point I had to take off my shoe and sock because my ankle was swelling up to the size of an apple.

So my understanding of it was that they were going to take me to a clinica (which is what we consider the equivalent of a hospital in the States), but I was wondering why a camera man was in the car with us.  It turns out that they had to go to a car accident that was nearby first.

A driver decided that they were going to change lanes in front of a bus, and the bus dinged the car.  I sat and waited in the police car as patiently as possible.  I asked a few times how much longer it would take and I was told "un rato mas"  (a little longer).  So in the meantime I realized I had the number to call Cruz Blanca (my insurance company) to see what to do for treatment. 

The call went something like this:  (It was in Spanish but I'm telling it in English):

Automated Voice: Welcome to Cruz Blanca!  If you're a member press 1.  If you're not a member press 2.
I press 1.
Next Automated Voice: Please type in your RUT  (Chilean ID number)
I put in my RUT.
Third Automated Voice: If you have a secret code please press 1.  If you don't please press 2.
I press 1.
Fourth Automated Voice:  Please input your 4 digit code.
I put in what I thought was my 4 digit code.
Sixth Automated Voice:  I'm sorry, but there is no secret code registered to this user. 
Seventh Automated Voice: For questions about your health plan, press 1.  For medical attention, press 2.
I press 2.
Actual Person: Welcome to Crzu Blanca!  How can I help you?
Me: Hi, I was out walking and had an accident.  I'm with the police now but need to get medical attention.
Actual Person: OK.  What neighborhood would you like the hospital to be in?
Me: Um, well.... I live in Nunoa.
Actual Person: OK, so we have Clinica X that you can go to, but first you have to buy the bono (like a copay) for 24.000 pesos.
Me:  Well, I don't have the money on me and it's an emergency.  Is there a hospital near me in Providencia.
Acutal Person: Yes, there's Clinica Y.  The address is.... and the cost is 11.000 pesos.
Me: OK.  Thank you.

I told the police officer and camera man (who was back in the car now) the name of the hospital and the address, and they told me we'd leave in a few minutes.  In the meantime I called my friend Chris to see if he'd be able to visit me there.  He told me that he'd be able to make it.

So the police got me to the clinica, and then they checked me in.  They brought me via wheelchair to the waiting room, and I had to give them my information.  I asked them to hurry up because the pain was getting worse, and so they did.

After talking with the doctor, some X rays, and getting an IV for the pain, the doctor concluded it wasn't a fracture.  This was really good news, becuase he told me I wouldn't be able to fly with a fracture.  He gave me a prescription for medication as well as some advice on how to take care of myself for the next 2 weeks.  Shortly after he finished Chris and his Chilean girlfriend Grace arrived.  They kept me company while the IV finished, and we caught up for the first time since September or October.  I didn't even think about it when I first called Chris, but Grace is a doctor and so she was able to talk to the doctor and give me advice on the situation too.

So meet my best friend for the next 10 to 14 days:

It's a soft boot, but the bottom of it is solid plastic, and it's a boot that was made for walking.  It holds my foot in a locked position, and when I've walked in it I haven't had any pain so far.

Chris and Grace helped me get checked out and get the meds that I need, and then they took me out to dinner.  I went back to the Italian restaurant that I went to a few weekends ago.  The food was delicious, and they surprised me by turning off the lights and having everyone in the restaurant sing Happy Birthday to me while the violinist and accordian player played. 

Obviously an accident and going to the hospital isn't a good thing, but it was a really nice feeling knowing that I have great friends that I can depend on in an emergency (and I know I have many more besides Chris and Grace for those of you reading!)  They really saved the day and made my brithday one that I certainly will never forget.

What's the downside to the boot?  Well the obvious is dealing with the pain and limited mobility.  I'm hoping that I can get a seat on the place with extra leg space due to the boot, so we'll see.  Then there's the more practical things that you don't think about.  One is driving, which I won't be able to do for the first week that I'm home (it's my right foot that is injured).  Another is sleeping, which I wasn't able to do successfully with the boot on.  After trying to find comfortable positions for a few hours I resorted to taking it off for when I sleep but being very careful.  The good thing is that I have most of my packing, errands, and cleaning done before I fly home on Monday.  I also have enough food in so that I don't have to make a trip to the food store before my flight.

The last (and probably most practical problem) is the following:  I don't know if I can wear long pants while I'm wearing my boot at the same time.  It's summer here and I've been wearing shorts, but I'm going back to winter (or what is supposed to be winter) weather.  I'll have to try putting on a pair of jeans while having on my boot as an experiment later today.

Well, tonight I'm looking forward to a joint birthday celebration with Katie (her birthday is on Sunday) and seeing some friends I haven't seen in a while.

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