Thursday, February 16, 2012

Trip to the Hospital

My breathing machine

Have had a cold that turned into bronchitis.  It’s happened a lot here.  I’m around kids all day who are always passing something around.  Plus, there’s a lot of smoke in the air from cooking and rubbish fires and I burn a mosquito coil every night.

I usually just ignore it but my lungs were getting more congested and I was pooped so I called the PC nurse.  She told me to head to the outpatient unit at the hospital near me.  There are two hospitals on my island.  A tiny one near Asau and the “big” one,  at the end of my village.  Coincidence that they put the old broad near the hospital?  Whatever, it means more buses so I’m happy.

I left school after interval yesterday.  I figured sitting at the hospital would be a nice respite from the morning I’d had.  We had two meetings going on.  One for the teachers in the district, another for the school committee.  I had 70+ kids for a few hours because their teachers were either in the meetings or making tea for the meetings.

To add to the mayhem, I was interrupted three times with requests to make copies for the meetings.  Yes, I’ve taught the other teachers to make copies but making tea comes before teaching or copying.

The trip to the hospital was my second.  As with the first, I could not have asked for speedier, less expensive or more polite treatment.  I checked in and was taken to a doctor in about 3 minutes.  The “emergency room” where I was taken is air conditioned.  I was already feeling better.  The doctor diagnosed me with bronchitis and a lung infection.  She prescribed breathing treatments and a shot to be done immediately, followed by lots of meds to take over the next week.  Sadly, they involve steroids so my aspirations to be an Olympic athlete have been dashed.

I was treated by three nurses, two men and a woman and they were pleasant and professional.  Well, except for having me sit for the breathing treatment in front of a desk where the log of everyone who’s visited the ER lately was open to view.  Names, diagnosis, villages, ages. 

I got the treatments, the shot and the prescriptions in less than an hour.  It only took that long because I had to wait 10 minutes between each breathing treatment, which involved sitting there with a mask on, breathing medication.  I opted for a shot in the arm instead of the bum.  Several reasons for that.  One, the nurse was a man in his 50’s and I’m shy.  Second, it would have been done with other staff, patients and families around.  I know because a young man got his while laying on a gurney 2 feet from where I was breathing in the medicine.   Biggest reason was that I was wearing a puletasi.  That involves a floor length wrap around skirt that is tied around my waist, then the fabric is rolled over to form a seamless waistband and keep the thing from falling off.  Over that is a knee length tunic.  Unwrapping me to get my butt exposed would have been a challenge.

Total cost for the doctor, treatments and meds was $17 tala.  That’s about $8 US.  Less than an hour at the Emergency Room.   Compare that to the United States.
Samoan Emergency Room
Storage for needles, medications, etc.


  1. Hope you feel better soon Nancy. That is quite a record time for an ER visit. I just wanted to confirm that there is a commode in the center of that room without any curtain or cover? Did someone use it while you were there? Just wondered. Get well and thanks for blogging. I enjoy reading about your PC adventures.

  2. Thanks, Anon. I laid low today, just resting and taking drugs and am feeling much better. Good eye to catch the commode. It actually looks like a bidet, but I'm not sure what it's used for. Never seen it in use. I'm working on a secondary project with one of the drs. I'll have to ask her!