I’ve always been a fan of going to the doctor in other countries. In my experience, it’s always easier and faster than going to the doctor here, and the doctors I’ve met throughout my travels have always been more thorough than my canadian doctor. (Except for a doctor in Costa Rica who kept trying to convince my friend that she didn’t actually have an earache…) Today was no exception, however, and I had a great time.
I’ve had a sore throat since Monday, but that isn’t unusual for me. Feels like a tonsil infection, and I get those all the time, so I figured I might as well get it checked out and start taking meds if I need them.
Step one was actually figuring out where to go. In theory, Bamako is a small city, but it’s really spread out and I have yet to see any of it apart form what I saw during the drive from the airport and from walking around my neighbourhood. In Mexico, when I was sick my host mum took me to her family doctor. When I was repeatedly ill in Ecuador, I would go to the university clinic between classes, and eventually straight to the pharmacy where they could give you whatever you wanted without a prescription. In Cuba, my travel buddy had to get stitches and we had about 1000 hospitals and clinics to choose from. Bamako, however…
I’m new to Africa, so I wasn’t sure what to look for or what to expect. I wanted to make sure I got a doctor who would understand me (see Language Barriers) so I called a couple of clinics I found listed on the american embassy’s website. None of the receptionists there understood me… bad start! The girl from the canadian embassy was on lunch, so I called the American School to see who they recommend, and while that receptionist understood me (hurrah!) she wasn’t immensely helpful. So, I rooted around the good old internet, and found a couple of options. Finally, I found the Polyclinique Pasteur. They have an informative, functioning website! Good enough for me! I called the canadian embassy again, and the lady confirmed that that was one of the recommended places. Done and done!
Step two was actually getting to the clinic. Remember, I haven’t been anywhere on my own yet, and this was in the middle of the work day, so my buddy Alice was stuck there. Motorcycle buddy would have driven me, but I get away before he could offer/insist. I wrote down the name and neighbourhood of the clinic (there are no adresses here… I still haven’t figured out how to receive mail), as well as the name of my street so I could actually get back. I was told not to pay more than 2000CFA (roughly 4$) for my taxi ride there, and merrily went on my way.
Step 3 was finding the doctor and sorting myself out. As I said before, I love going to the doctor in other countries. I walked up to the information desk, and was told to go to the consultation waiting room. There, the receptionist took 10,000CFA (about 20$) and told me to sit. 3 minutes later, my doctor comes out. He apologized for the wait, but he wanted to finish lunch. Wow doctor, next time, don’t take so long, ok?
So he was lovely and friendly and UNDERSTOOD ME, and made fun of my ‘strong canadian accent’ and asked me all sorts of questions to try and figure out if anything else could be wrong with me, then told me to come back tomorrow for some blood work to make sure that it’s an infection before he gives me meds (imagine that!) Just like my emergency dentist in Ecuador, my malian doctor wants to make sure that they’re treating the right thing the right way before making any decisions. How refreshing!