Monday, May 11, 2009

Central American Medicine: The Case of the Broken Toe

Central American medicine is interesting, to say the least. I have had a broken finger mended at the Red Cross in Xela for $0.75, and gotten prescription painkillers for a mere $3 more. Eyedrops for pinkeye were a mere $4.

Why I decided to go to a private doctor, I'll never know. Maybe it was the confusing directions to the Red Cross in Granada, Nicaragua. Perhaps the signs that optimistically pointed to nowhere that turned my attention elsewhere.

The fact that the receptionist had to translate my Spanish into his and back again should have been a sign. The clear absence of an X-ray machine should have been another. However, I was firm that my hour's wait would yield results.

He asked to see the fractured toe, and then proceeded to yank it left and right, incessantly asking "Does this hurt? And what about this?" He pushed it every conceivable direction. After this painful interrogation, he looked at my crooked, formerly unswollen toe and pronounced it unbroken. Despite the fact that my toe was pointing in the wrong direction, the very fact that I was not screaming in pain was evidence that a break couldn't possibly have occurred.

For this painful, fruitless exam, I was charged $15. A small sum in the United States, but a veritable fortune in Nicaragua. You could buy a hammock for that price, or stay in a nice hostel for two nights (or a not so nice one for four).

At least I got some good blog fodder out of it.

No comments: