Monday, January 10, 2011

A Trip to the Hospital - A Hypochondriac's Tale

Thursday morning I felt my heart swell and a rush of fluid throughout my body while watching Seinfeld. This was not the typical physical response elicited from Jerry and the gang but I brushed it off and blamed it on the grilled cheese, which usually does inspire a rush of endorphins, couch potato that I am. But throughout the course of the day, my body began to tremor more and more intensely, my pulse rising exponentially.
I thought it might have been the two cups of french press coffee I had had on an empty stomach that morning, the half stick of butter I had consumed that week in making said grilled cheeses, the petroleum in the only cheese available in town, or the stress at school or my uneasiness about going back to the Philippines come January 22nd.
Anyway, I decided I would sleep it off and skip coffee in the morning. Later Friday afternoon, I took my pulse and my heart was still beating at about 130-140 beats per minute, no improvement and I had restricted my diet extensively to crackers and sandwiches. That evening, I asked my coteacher, Mr. Do, to take me to the Andong hospital in the morning, to which he responded in the affirmative.
Andong is about 40 minutes away and the hospital was ranked first in the country in terms of cleanliness and customer service.
Indeed, the customer service was apparent. Men and women wearing yellow sashes stood throughout the hospital helping people find where they needed to go. The computer system forwarded each interaction at each desk to the succeeding desk with a full description of what had happened prior to that desk kept wait times and interviews to a minimum.
Within 10 minutes of arriving, the desk clerk at the cardiology department input my insurance information, took my blood pressure, directed us to sit down and then showed us to the doctor. The doctor, who spoke decent English, prescribed me a chest x-ray, heart sonogram and to wear a machine (seen above) for 24 hours to monitor for irregular patterns in my heart beat. We went from office to office for each test and waited no longer than five minutes at each station. The staff was helpful and friendly. After leaving the hospital with what felt like an octopus strapped to my chest, I received a text from the hospital asking if I had had a pleasant experience.
Oh, and by the way, my insurance here doesn't cover heart issues so I had to pay out of pocket. And how much did it cost? Are you sitting down? A mere $200 for the doctor visit, sonogram, two x-rays and the device with a followup visit for the results. I love the medical system in this country.
Monday morning I noticed my heart rate go down (way down) to 60-70 bpms (normal).
Anyway, I got the results this morning and the doctor said my heart size and patters are completely regular and there is nothing perceivably wrong. I think I'll just chock it up to a panic attack. I am quite nervous about going back to the Philippines, having some ghosts there to put to rest and am stressed at school, not to mention living in a country that is still technically at war and where I can't understand anything. It's feasible.  So now I have resolved to go on regular walks (which last about an hour) and eat lots of stir-fried veggies for dinner (I just discovered our grocer has broccoli!).