Monday, November 24, 2008

Ten out of ten for the Vega Baja hospital

We'd just settled down to eat our roast chicken, which I'd cooked on the BBQ yesterday morning, when we heard the door buzzer.

Our reaction was like the Peter Kay gag, "whose that calling on a Sunday night?" It was Kay from next door. Her brother Ken, had taken a funny turn complaining that he'd suddenly felt very unwell.

Kay used to be a nurse so she knows when someone has a serious health problem that needs immediate attention. Ken wanted to wait until the morning to go down to the doctors but Kay insisted he should be taken to the hospital straight away. She'd already called and arranged for an interpreter to meet us at the Vega Baja hospital.

So Pam quickly bundled our plates into the oven and I got the car out. On the way there, I joked with Ken that his turn for the worse was the result of Arsenal's defeat at the hands of Manchester City on Saturday. That raised a slight smile on his face and lightened the mood for a few seconds.

Ten minutes later we were in the Emergency Department at Vega Baja. The triage nurse had Ken bundled into a wheelchair before we got through the door. Seconds later he was taken through to see the doctor. Within a quarter of an hour the doctor had completed all manner of tests which were displayed on a computer screen. None of these tests revealed anything untoward so he was sent for x-rays which offered no further explanation for his condition.

There being no obvious cause for his symptoms, the doctor decided to keep Ken in overnight for observation. The interpreter who came to explain this to us said that Ken been "put in a box". Pam and I imagined the worst but of course a box is the Spanish equivalent of a cubicle.

I'm pleased to say that Ken looked very comfortable when we called to see him before bringing Kay home. He was sat up smiling, the colour back in his cheeks.; he'd regained his normal quick wit and humour. Ken even complained that he'd missed his dinner.

Before leaving, Pam and I gave him a couple of phrases he might need; "donde está el aseo" and "necesito una bebida". Hopefully this morning he'll be able to return home with at least some explanation of what had happened.

We've been told by others that the health service here is excellent. Last night, Pam and I were able to observe this for ourselves. The speed and thoroughness of the doctor really impressed us and gave us comfort to realise that, if we ever have an emergency, it should be dealt with quickly and thoroughly.

Pam and I both hope that Ken is alright. I imagine he will be short of a few hours sleep but if that is all we'll be happy.

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