Normally, you have to wait about a month to see a Doctor at our local Centre de Saúde (Health Centre). Even then, you can’t guarantee the Doctor will actually turn up! Probably the scarcities of appointments are due to people booking appointments on a ‘just in case I’m ill’, basis.
You can imagine my surprise when we popped into our local Centre de Saúde to collect a prescription and I casually asked.
“Is it possible to see a doctor, please?” as I muttered under my breath “in less than a month”
The receptionist cheerily replied.
As most of this conversation was conducted in pigeon Portuguese I thought I had misunderstood,
“Hoje (today)?” I asked incredulously.
So my appointment was set for 14.00.
Hubby of course was cynical and I, ever the optimist, was hopeful.
I returned at the appointed time and booked in. Damn, I had forgotten to take a watch with me. There are 3 clocks in the Centre de Saúde but each sport a different time. I ‘people watch’ for what seemed an eternity trying to tune into various conversations of the local Portuguese. Two and two do make five when you are eavesdropping in a second language!
The doctor arrives an hour late and I wait to be called. False alarm, a further 40 minutes pass and I am still waiting. I am hot and bothered as tt’s nearly 40C outside and the reception area is stifling.
Finally, I am summoned by the doctor.
“Fala ingles?” I asked hopefully.
Our English speaking doctor left suddenly a month ago and the Spanish locum, her temporary replacement, I now discover speaks absolutely no English whatsoever! We looked at each other in desperation as I explained
“Eu naõ falo Portuguese boa”
While my Portuguese will certainly not win any awards I should at least win an Oscar for dramatizing my complaint. An hour later both exhausted she announces something…
I looked at her expectantly…err
”What, pardon?” errr “I don’t understand”
The Doctor rings through to reception and shortly afterwards a nurse appears, and announces she will translate.
”The doctor has run out of time today, please come back tomorrow”
Dazed and a little fraught I am escorted back to reception to make another appointment for tomorrow. It’s now 16.40 and there are still six people waiting to see the doctor. Poor things
I return home none the wiser. Hubby of course greets me with an “I told you so” expression.
“You look worse than when you went”
The following day I reluctantly return to Centre de Saúde for round two.
I arrived on time (very British), but as I walked into the waiting area I was horrified to see the long queue of hot and weary people waiting to see the doctor. I cautiously greeted the receptionists who both looked like they would eat the next person alive who gave them grief! (I am sure you know that look) I pointed to all the people and said
“Sim” They said unanimously shaking their heads. “Muitos gentes”
I cancel my appointment as the prospect of having to wait 3hrs is not an option and having made the decision I suddenly felt a lot better!
I return home to another dose of “I told you so!”.
and a rather large glass of chilled Portuguese white wine to help me destress!
Please share your experiences good and bad…