I usually had the tests done in December in the States, so I had been asking several Gringo ladies that I knew if they knew of a female gynecologist in Cuenca. It is amazing to me the number of women who do not get these tests done on a regular basis. I could not get the necessary information that I was looking for. Finally, I contacted Noshy Pinos (a Cuenca interpreter who helps alot of Gringos) for this information. She gave me the name and phone number of her doctor. Unfortunately, she did not provide the address of the Clinic. So, after several phone calls to the clinic (of which the answering machine messages are ALL in Spanish---I sure wished I could have pressed "2" for English), I gave up temporarily. Then I finally called the doctor's cell phone and got her on the phone, but she only spoke Spanish. After several frustrating minutes, I was able to get the address of the clinic from her. It is amazing how nerve wracking it is to speak Spanish with someone on the phone when you feel like you only know about every third word that they are saying.
Well, this last Tuesday, I decided to go and try to find the Clinic. It is located on the street next to Feria Libre (Avenida Carlos Arizaga Vega). Here is a picture of the corner where you turn:
Juan Eljuri Store is on the corner
There are alot of green busses that drop off people for Feria Libre
You go pass several booths that sell food every day
Until you see the front of the Clinica Humanitaria
This sign is on the side of the building
The first day that I went there, I was just looking for the building. I wanted to make an appointment with Doctora Norma Cordero. I went up to the Recepcion and told them that I wanted to make an appointment with the doctor. They asked me if I wanted to see her that day. Well, I was not prepared to see the doctor that day because I needed to type up my medical history on Google Translate so that I could tell the doctor in Spanish. So I asked her if I could come back the next day. I thought she told me to be there at noon on Wednesday. I also talked to a worker who entered my personal information into the computer and gave me a clinic card with my account number on it. When I came back the next day at noon, I was told that the doctor had been there earlier (muy temprano) that day and was no longer there. I guess I misunderstood when she told me that my appointment was at noon. She told me to return on Thursday at ten (diez en la manana).
I came back the next day at 10:00am. The first thing I did was go to the receptionist and she told me to pay for the doctor visit at the cashier next to her (caja). And I kept the receipt ($9.00 for doctor visit). Then I went to the left side (where the doctors are) and a woman took my height, weight and blood pressure. After that she showed me where to sit to wait for the doctor to call. After about 30 minutes, I went in to see the doctor. She was very nice and she took down my medical history (which I had written in Spanish). She then told me to change my clothes for my exam. The rest was just as it was in the States.
The doctor then wanted me to get a mammagram and an ultrasound. I had to pay for the mammogram ($20..00) and I got a receipt. I was told to come back that afternoon at 2:00pm for the mammogram and to return at 7:30am in the morning for blood work and the ultrasound. When I returned at 2:00pm for the mammogram, I was told that the technician would not be there until 3:00pm. So I waited. I did make a new 81 year one friend, Blanca. She did not speak any English, so we stumbled through communicating in Spanish. I thought she looked really good for her age:
She was SO sweet and very helpful. She helped me to know what was going on. I did finally get out of there by 4:00pm. If I hadn't had to wait so long for the tech to show, it wouldn't have seemed so bad.
The next morning I returned for the fasting blood work ($42.40 total for blood work) and the ultrasound ($25.00). First, I had to stand in line at the "Labratorio" to get a bill for the blood work to be done. Then I had to return to the receptionist to pay for the blood work and the ultrasound. Then the new wait began. The nurse who drew my blood called my name in the order that I paid. It took about 30 minutes.
Then I went to the next area for the ultrasound (I think it was called the "Ecocardiogram" dept). Again, we had to wait. Supposedly, I had an appointment for 7:30am, but the technician didn't even show up until 8:30am. And again, I made a new friend, Germania. She had lived in the US for a number of years, so she spoke very good English. She even helped to explain to me what the technician was trying to say to me. I really appreciated it. And I told her that I would take her to lunch.
Germania was a real godsend.
Now I have to go for a followup visit this week with my doctor to go over everything. After it was all over, I realized that it wasn't so bad. It is just when you don't really know what to expect, everything seems more difficult than it really is. And not feeling comfortable with the language doesn't help. If anyone living here in Cuenca would like further information or would like for me to help in any way, please contact me here. Sorry for the long post, but I felt it might be helpful to some of the women living here. Hasta luego, Sue