I've had my fill of Kuwait medical institutions. They actually aren't that bad...but check out the picture below! My Kuwaiti medical experience began earlier this week, when I realized that I was getting really sick. I had some kind of throat infection, and was getting so dizzy that I had to sit on the floor while blowdrying my hair in the morning to avoid blacking out. So, on Sunday (first day of work over here), I walked myself over to the hospital for a check-up. Now, keep in mind that walking around Kuwait can be an odd experience, since an American woman walking around the streets tends to attract a lot of attention. So, in the midst of honking horns and more stares than I care to imagine...I finally found my way to the hospital. The ER itself was pretty decent. It took about 30 minutes to be seen for the initial blood pressure check, and then another 15 minutes before I saw the doctor (a very disinterested apathetic foreigner who barely spoke two words to me). They don't ask for any medical history and you don't fill out a SINGLE form. They write down your insurance information (and you never fill out a medical history for that either!)...and you pay about $10 and that's it! I got a decent prescription for antibiotics and was on my way across the street to the pharmacy. The pharmacist apologized because my insurance didn't cover $6 worth of medicine...I was smiling with happiness at the cost. So after three days of antibiotics, I'm feeling a whole lot better!
Take two of the Kuwaiti medical experience was my health check-up required to complete my residency permit. Yesterday was fingerprinting day (an hour spent in a dingy office where they cover your entire hands with black ink and roll them over a piece of paper that is probably never seen again). The health check-up today entailed getting my blood drawn (to make sure I'm not bringing HIV or Hepatitis into the country) and a chest x-ray to make sure I don't have TB. I was sent with a driver and a male student who is also working on his residency. We spent the first half of the morning at the male medical facility (they are segregated by gender like all institutions in Kuwait). The male facility was an interesting experience since it was me and about 200 men waiting to have their blood drawn. I sat in the corner and tried not to make eye contact with anyone. They decided it was morally ok for me to have my blood drawn there, although the x-ray would have to be done on the other side of the city. The woman who took my blood was a bit rough...by which I mean she stuck a needle in my arm (thankfully a clean one although she didn't switch her gloves beforehand)...and proceeded to dig around searching for a vein. The result is below. :-( After that, we went across the city for my xray. At all the facilities, we were ushered past the waiting people (usually a couple hundred of them, many from southeast asian nations)...and brought straight to the director. It's special treatment, but it makes me uncomfortable. My heart continues to break for the oppression and injustice that occurs here...but that will be the subject of another post in the near future. So there you have it! I now have to wait ten days for my medical results, at which time I will have my residency and will be free to travel in and out of the country (Bahrain and Dubai, here I come!). Ten days after that I should have my civil ID, which is the equivalent of a social security card and allows me to do everything from getting a phone plan to taking advantage of the free public health system. Thanks for reading and more upates to come soon!!