They say European Union is this and that, unification of currency, political safety, blah blah. Unfortunately, it turns out that despite being an EU citizen you still can undergo a medieval health treatment WITHIN European Union itself.
Today we present two sides of the adventure that happened to us on Saturday. Before that, however, we have to provide some facts. That day started absolutely normally. Coffee, breakfast, One Piece anime. Unfortunately suddenly Niki started to feel enormous pain on the left upper side of her stomach which escalated quickly into unbearable torture. Niki was on the verge of panic and I must say, I had no idea what to do either.
Anyway, we decided that we had to get Niki to the hospital. The motorcycle ride was absolutely out of discussion, she wouldn’t keep herself on the bike. So I ran upstairs to our Italian neighbour, Davide, who owns a car, with a plea for help. When he learned what was wrong he packed us to the car and we went to the ER in Granadilla. I must say, we had some rough times with this guy in the past what caused some animosity between us, however that day he acted like a super hero. He was driving like crazy, honking on everyone and waving a white cloth through the side window so people were making space to let us through, didn’t matter if from common sense or if they were just scared of a crazy Italian driver. It did the trick, though, we got to ER quite fast. At the ER Davide didn’t leave until all paperwork and this kind of bull***t was done so he was of enormous help. And from here the whole hospital – medical nightmare starts as if the pain itself wasn’t enough.
From my perspective (Nick), it was a hell of uncertainty and unawareness. First hours at the ER I couldn’t get to Niki and I couldn’t extract any information about her condition. From time to time they let me in to translate something but except that I couldn’t be in the room with her. So I was sitting, waiting and smoking cigarettes. Of course, we forgot to take the phone with us and nobody thought it will take so long to take a book or anything. After several hours, Davide long gone as he had his own plans, the doctors said they need to transport Niki to the hospital in Las Americas. Imagine when people tell you the person you love has to be transported to the hospital. Lovely.
Anyway, the ambulance came, of course after an hour, and the paramedics were the only nice people we have encountered for the whole day (medical-care-wise). It was so comforting to actually experience a bare minimum of human emotions. Compassion and empathy were so badly needed here. Unfortunately, good things go away fast and after a short drive with an ambulance we landed in the hospital where things went pretty the same for me. Bureaucracy, paperwork and uncertainty again. I could see Niki just once, just to give her the consent to sign, and for the whole time, until 9 PM that is, I could not speak to her nor I knew what was wrong with her. They even denied me access to give her some water. So there I was, sitting in the waiting room, no book, no food or water for the whole day except a small bottle and a cake from vending machine.
I just wanted to see her again healthy and pain-free and go home.
After somewhere between eternity and forever she emerged from the emergency room and together we could finally go. I was so relieved to see her! We took a taxi, paid 30 Euros to get to our place but all we wanted was just some peace and to get into bed ASAP.
I probably didn’t know much more than Nick standing outside. When they have realised that my Spanish is not good enough to consult on a medical level, they stopped addressing me at all. Nick just put me on a bed (I couldn’t even walk because of pain) and there I was lying for some time, until they told me to turn around and they gave me an injection. It got better for about 30 seconds, then I started turning and tossing in pain again. I didn’t understand what’s going on, nurses tried not to look at me, they just put a screen in front of my bed and were seeing other patients. If any of them came up to me, it was only to straighten my legs on the bed, as I couldn’t lay still and they didn’t approve of it. Seriously.
After about half an hour of moaning I got another injection, probably a different one (it hurt more). This one helped, the pain went away. They let Nick in, he was with this woman who was Polish and translated some stuff for us. Apparently, they wanted to let me go home with medications. Their diagnosis- renal colic. But still, it was only what the Polish woman told us, no nurse approached me… So we went to the hallway and waited for more instructions, prescriptions, etc. And the whole pain struck again…
We came back to the nurses’ room, me- barely walking again, and they told us… to wait outside. I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand, there was nowhere to lay down, people were staring at me, almost crying in agony. So we stormed in the nurses’ room again and they told me FINE, you can lay down here. After a short conversation they hooked me up to an IV. It didn’t help at all. For half an hour I was again turning and tossing, this time with a needle in my arm. I was at the end of my strength, I thought I was going to lose my mind, I was begging my body to faint. So finally they changed my drip and this one brought a relief I hoped for. Exhausted from pain, I waited for some more action on their side. I didn’t know the ambulance was coming to transport me to a hospital in Las Americas. Nick told me when they let him in with the transporting guys. They were so nice to me…! They smiled and asked me with compassion if it hurts very bad. It was all so human-like. I trusted them instantly. These were the first and last nice people we encountered that day. With another drip, I was transported to a hospital.
And that was even worse than the Medical Centre. I was waiting for hours in a small room in ER. Next to me, behind the wall, there was a woman in a huge pain, who was crying and moaning and nobody took care of her. She was begging for help. I felt really sorry for her and was terrified of my pain coming back. After 2 hours it did come back- it wasn’t so intense, but still not comfortable. I asked nurses if someone’s coming, because it was getting worse. She said yes, of course, in a minute. I asked for a glass of water, I was very thirsty. She answered in the same manner- in a minute, yes, of course. I lied down on my bed in an embryonic position, still with an empty dripped attached to my arm, and fell asleep. When I woke up, nothing changed, but the pain was lighter. Eventually someone came in to check my temperature and to make me change a room. In the next room I was waiting for another half an hour, completely pain-free, wondering what the hell I’m doing there. I just wanted to go home. Then the doctor came in, checked my stomach, took my blood for tests and sent me for an X-ray. I asked nurses for a glass of water again. The same answer, the same absence of a drink afterwards.
After the X-ray that showed nothing and results of my blood test that also showed nothing, I was told to go home, see a doctor (I thought I was just now!!) and pay almost 300 euros for that “diagnosis”. I was… astound. I asked how it is possible- the Medical Centre in Granadilla already had the diagnosis (renal colic), they just sent me here because they couldn’t deal with my pain. They repeated that me test results are fine. Of course they were fine, they did all the test HOURS AFTER THE PAIN!! And the tests done during the pain in the MC indicated the colic.
Tired, speechless and resigned I went outside to see Nick. The only thing I got was a prescription for a really strong, morphine-like painkiller. At the pharmacy they said they don’t have it, but they claimed to have a substitute, which they brought to me. It was… paracetamol. : /
So, in conclusion, this day was a nightmare. Moreover, the doctors kept Niki for several hours in the ER and they didn’t even diagnose the problem. Together with our families and the help of Google MD we realised that it was a classic example of renal colic, but apparently this condition was not known to any doctor in Las Americas. The next time we need medical care, we will take the next plane to Germany, or, like, anywhere civilised. Damn, even Polish healthcare looks sophisticated and classy in comparison to Canary Islands. Nowhere in our travel we encountered such neglect, lack of empathy and ignorance. If you want to stay healthy – keep away from Canarian hospitals, you could die there and they wouldn’t care less.
Nick & Niki