Wednesday night I developed a sore throat. By Friday morning, my baby sinus infection was much worse, and I got desperate enough to figure out the employee health services since I only had a couple Sudafed left from home and wasn’t sure what I would find at a pharmacy (which all close by six p.m. anyway). My doctor in Indianapolis is very stingy with antibiotics and would wait until I had green stuff coming out of my head before she’d give me anything, so I’ve gotten in the habit of waiting out some of these horrible sinus things with cold medicine and throat spray, because by the time I’ve had that green symptom I’ve already been sick for five days and it seems kind of pointless to bother with it then. (Sometimes this backfires into a three-week illness but other times my immune system catches up in a few more days.) Anyway, the nurse at the health center couldn’t give me much more than “Sinutabs” (which were much appreciated), and acknowledged I needed an antibiotic, but she did give me the name of a clinic in town, which is more information than I had when I went in there. At this point I still had to work the rest of the morning, then get the keys to my house, move in, and accept/unload delivery of my big shipping container. But at least I had the afternoon off, so I called the doctor place, and got an appointment for quarter to five.
Except after successfully wandering around Kinsale making sure I could find the clinic, scoping out the pharmacy (also called a “chemist” here, but the building still says pharmacy), getting a few groceries, and determining if I had enough cash for the doctor and the rest of the weekend – I get paid Monday which will be the first time there is money in my Irish bank account, and the ATM percentage charge off my American bank account is annoying — I arrived at the clinic at 4:20 to find out my appointment had been at 3:45! I guess I just didn’t understand the accent on the phone and while the receptionist seemed annoyed, I asked if I could at least fill out the forms to be a new patient so I could establish a GP somewhere. I guess you need GP blessing to go get any other medical work done anyway. She handed me a slip that consisted of my name, DOB, address, and phone numbers. That was it! I thought I would get the full six-page questions with a nurse later but I never did. It was kind of weird not to detail my history for a new doctor… even my root canal guy at home wants every detail since I was born.
She still seemed annoyed but said she would try to squeeze me in since I said I was really sick, and I went into a waiting room which was a little dumpy like the rest of the place, but I felt too crappy to even read the magazines and listened to a three year old bother everyone else in a cute way. After about fifteen minutes someone called me (I think it was the actual doctor, again no nurse in this setup), and I went in his office and explained how I’d just moved there and that I had a sinus infection and what the symptoms were. He took a VERY brief history right into his computer, which was basically what meds I was already taking and if my immediate family had any major illness history. Not even height and weight, but heck, this was pretty awesome to get right in and have him proclaim I needed an antibiotic. He did check ENT areas and when he listened to my lungs he kept saying “excuse me” as I lifted my
sweater jumper, which was also a little funny. I guess this is where the super-politeness comes in; my doctor at home never “apologizes” for each move of the stethoscope. He even apologized that it might not have been my fault for misunderstanding the accent when I apologized for being late to my appointment!
Dr. Tony Somebody also asked how I was doing with the move and being away from home and suggested being on airplanes and the big stress of moving could have contributed, though we also discussed how many of these stupid infections I’d had before. I liked that he listened to me and seemed to respect that I know my particular history with this affliction well, something I don’t always get with my home doctor. By this time I was practically in tears anyway, being so sick and having such a LONG day already (I did successfully move into the house and get my shipment), so I was glad he not only wrote a prescription but that he also was happy to write others for meds I already took if I just brought in my current containers, no third degree to reestablish my various ailments to be deemed worthy of medication. Most of what I’ve taken recently seems to have a different name in Ireland, so we worked out some of those differences and I ended up with name brand Augmentin for under €12. The actual visit cost €50 and they don’t seem to file your insurance for you (while it’s true there is some form of national health insurance, many Irish people buy private insurance too). I would have had to file my own anyway with the new international insurance I’m supposedly on. I can’t seem to get any info on the plan and I don’t know how/where to file a claim yet.
At the pharmacy I also found actual Sudafed (hooray!), though they didn’t have a generic, and some sore throat spray, and that stuff is so strong it almost hurts more than the ailment it treats. Much of the OTC stuff is behind the counter so you have to ask them to get it for you. The pharmacist pronounced my name correctly, which makes him the second person since I arrived to do that. I kind of thought Europeans might get the whole German spelling/pronunciation right more often, but not so far. The other guy who got it right was a Polish guy on the IT help line at work. I need to find more Poles and test the theory for other parts of the continent.
I had dinner plans with other Americans from work at one of their homes and sniffled my way through that. Despite being ill, I’m glad I went, not only because they had a dog and a cat but because even this introvert gets tired of eating in a restaurant by herself every night. Some nights I just haven’t eaten because it seemed too much of a hassle and too depressing to walk into town for food I couldn’t store as leftovers anyway, and I was never that hungry after the big lunches at work.
I spent an hour or so unpacking enough things to have pajamas and bedding and slept pretty well that night with all my drugs. The next adventure: driving to Cork to shop for household goods. I survived, but you’ll have to read about that next. Also, I have no phone, TV, or internet yet, and I’m going insane. If you are reading this I must have stolen a wifi connection somewhere.