Let Me Tell You A Little Story…
about trying to find an ob gyn in a foreign land. Those too embarassed by their lady bits or bodies or reading about mine, need stop reading now.
It all began about three weeks ago. It was a wonderful beautiful sunny day like most here, except something was awry. Things down south weren’t feeling or smelling good. In early December I had to take amoxcillan for a supposed intestinal parasite infection contracted from my travels in Haiti.
Prior to being a teacher, barely an antiboitic passed my lips. In four short years, I’ve made short order of far too many an antibiotic. You name it, I got it. Staph? Check! Strep throat 3x? Check! Laryingitis 2x? Check! Sinus infections? Check! Thank goodness for modern medicine and the beauty of antibiotics but with their usage come side effects. And one or more of these can lead to lady bit secondary infections. And led, they have. I started popping probiotics like candy. It got to the point where I just had to call my doc and say “Itching, burning in lady bits” and the next pill to combat the secondary infection would show up like magic at the pharmacy for me.
Being in a foreign land and finding things isn’t exactly the science that it was in los Estados Unidos. Probiotics are like some sweet mystery I can’t seem to solve nor find. The ones I did find and took were wait for it…yeast based. So let’s think about this for a second, shall we?
Antibiotics + hot weather + lady bits + yeast based probiotics + upset of natural flora and fauna. This is what the kids would term a fail.
I took the probiotics I could find, the yeast based ones, when I was taking this round of antibiotics but they didn’t do the job. Three weeks ago, things went awry. I’d finished the antibiotics and probiotics and was happy to be feeling a little less wiped out. Much to my chagrin, I started showing signs of bacterial vaginosis. After frequent thoughts of “Oh shit, this is not fun. Oh shit this is gross! Oh man, what the hell am I going to do now?” crossed my mind, I made the mistake of googling my symptoms.
This is generally never a good idea. *cue crazed running around the house with flailing arms*
Seeing as my close girlfriends are 5000 miles away, I felt at a loss. Maybe I was just imaging things to be worse than they were? Maybe it would go away on its own? Hahahahahahahah, right. So I put in a request to the only people I really know. My bosses (and also my friends, at this point).
Can you say AWKWARD?
They are wonderful people and helpful people so of course they were willing to help. They got someone they know looking for an English speaking ob gyn. Having to explain my symptoms through a translator (most likely either my woman boss or a woman colleague who is basically a stranger) was my idea of the seventh level of hell. Mortification central.
One of the tell tale signs of this type of infection is a certain foul odor described in the literature as “fishy.” Luckily I’d been able to “talk” to two of my most trusted girlfriend back home and they were more blunt about the whole matter. Both had exeperienced this before and assured me it was really no big deal. It was really nice to realize I wasn’t alone, I wasn’t being irrational and that it could be taken care of by antibiotics and a visit to an ob gyn. Let’s get something straight–all these things are readily available, easy to find and ultimately no big deal in the States. Around here, it is not exactly so straight foward. Plus did I mention that part about not speaking the best Spanish?
At this point, a week had gone by with no available English speaking ob gyn, me feeling increasingly physically uncomfortable and mentally near mortification. Things in this foreign land never move fast.
It occured to me that there was an English speaking farmacia up the road that I’d had luck with when getting ready for my trip to Haiti. I spent an hour searching online for their phone number. Finally I found it and called, only to find out they don’t have an actual clinic there. Cue time ticking and me coming up on my first week of work in 6 months, thus limiting my availability for setting up an appt.
I’d gently reminded/poked my bosses who are VERY busy people but still there wasn’t any English speaking ob gyn to be found. Cue more googling and more horrification.
Work began and I approached my one colleague also from the States. I have found that naturally people seem to ask, in response to “I need to see an ob gyn,” with “What for?” Uhhhhh, ummmm, cue me turning various shades of red. Luckily my colleague didn’t leave me feeling mortified, reassured me she understood where I was coming from and armed me with the glorious number of an English speaking ob gyn. Cue Hallelujah chorus here.
Given that it was a work day, I didn’t have time to call at any time of the day so I enlisted the help of another colleague, a native Spanish speaker who is the national director of the school, to call and set up an appt. Naturally she asked “What for?” Me: “Uhhhh ummmm…” Her: “I get it, it is personal.” I went back to work feeling relieved and finally on my way to a solution. Clearly the joke was on me. The national director talked to me after work and proceeded to tell me that this person was unavailable because she was moving to…wait for it…the United States! Back to square one.
At this point my level for humility and being embarassed had surpassed all expectation and I was done trying to be prideful. I needed the help. We agreed she could call a Spanish speaking ob gyn, she’d drive me and translate for me. That same day I drove up to the farmacia where the doctor speaks perfect English and spilled my ever-loving guts. I came home with $80 worth of antibiotics and a sense of relief.
The next day I was told my appoitment was all set up, we had a plan and my pride was completely swallowed. Yesterday, the day of the appt (now two weeks into this debacle), I was told that the clinic had called to cancel the appointment and reschceduled for Monday.
Luckily the antibiotics are working, I feel much better and likely don’t need the appointment after all. Looking back over the last 3 or so weeks, I’ve come to one conclusion. All there is left to do is laugh, laugh and laugh some more.
And this, kids, is the story of trying to find an ob gyn in a foreign land.