MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE FREE CLINIC..

unfortunately during our epic fall break trip to prague and paris i somehow managed to screw up my foot in a most painful way. when i got back to paros it had swollen up and hurt to walk anywhere, so after having a chat with my mum (where she freaked out and swore it was a blood clot in my foot), i headed over to the free clinic on the island.

i hobbled my way down the main road in town and eventually made it to a non-descript white building that proclaimed itself the “health center of paros”. based purely on first impressions, i wasn’t feeling too confident. i walked in and immediately received weird looks from everyone there: a young mother with her cute daughter, an elderly couple looking with disapproving eyes at the length of my shorts, and a random guy in a yellow jacket pacing the place. i had no idea how to go about seeing a doctor, so after a brief moment of worry i headed over to the reception area where i told the middle aged greek men there about my predicament. “uhm, excuse me? i injured my foot on a trip with my school and now it’s swollen a bit, is there any way i could be seen by a doctor just to make sure everything is okay?” they sniggered at me and one of them stood up and headed off, presumably to get a doctor for me, or a nurse.

i took a seat to wait and the man from behind the desk showed up soon enough with the pacing man in the yellow jacket following right behind him. “here, tell him what has happened” the reception guy said. okay, maybe he just got here for his shift, maybe his doctor clothes are in his ripped up backpack i thought to myself. he kneeled in front of me and i explaned what had happened. “ahh yes, it does seem swollen” he said as he gently felt my foot and applied pressure to various places with a contemplative and curious look on his face. abruptly he stood and, after assuring me that he’d be right back, he disappeared into a back room. the next thing i knew he was back and walking out the front door, and i never saw him again. instead a nurse came over to me, dressed in a crisp white lab coat, and assured me that they’d take care of me. still not sure who the random man in the yellow was, but needless to say i don’t think he worked there.

soon enough i was taken into a back room and told to sit down on one of those exam tables, you know the ones with the flimsy paper covering it like that’s really going to help if shit goes down. the doctor, a plump man in his 60’s with crazy grey hair, came over and started gibbering away in greek motioning to my foot and giving me this questioning look. i’m sure that i looked like a deer in headlights, lost and clueless and vaguely freaked out. “uhm, sorry! i don’t speak greek..” i said in my nicest middle-class-white-girl voice. he chuckled and switched to english as he continued questioning me about my foot and what had happened. he, like the yellow jacket man before him, began to poke and prod at my foot, though in a more doctorly way (AKA in a way that hurt like hell). without warning his phone starting ringing and he stepped away to take the call. “sorry!” he said as he backed out of the room. only in greece!

he was gone for a good 10 minutes and in that time i had almost a full blown freak out. looking around everything was old and dingy and looked like it hadn’t been used in years. there was a funky yellow-ish stain on the floor from something bodily and gross i’m sure. as my eyes scanned the small area i saw entire shelves full of syringes and butterfly needles and all kinds of other things that suddenly became scary since i was in a foreign country and didn’t know how competent the medical training is here (the doctor had also told me that he had only been on the island 6 days, super dude, just super. don’t tell the patient that shit! i want to know that you know the area and the people and you know how to handle shit!!). from my vantage point everything became menacing and scary: what if i really did have a blood clot in my foot!? how would they take care of it? would they stick a damn needle in my leg, cause they seemed to have plenty of those around!?

by the time the doctor returned i had half-way calmed down just in time for him to tell me that his assistant nurse would be taking over from here, he needed to see another patient. NOOOOO! i was already worried about how well the doctor would do, now he was sending some new chick over!? gahhhhh! it turned out though that literally all she did was wrap my foot in an ACE bandage and send me on my way to the doctor again to get some meds. i headed over to his desk where he sat pouring over a medical book that already had lots of notes and annotations in it from years of use. he was literally looking through a prescription book to choose what to give me! (panic returned, though not as bad)

i left with a prescription to take to the nearest pharmacy and didn’t have to pay a cent for the bandage or my care at the center, and the meds didn’t even cost me one euro. i’ll take that! the doctor told me to keep my foot elevated and keep ice on it and soon enough it would be fine. it’s been two days and it’s getting a bit better, but it still hurts to walk the 20 minutes to school.

my life is insane, i swear. i’m just hoping that i’m all healed up before the family arrives to see me in less than a week!!

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