Saturday, 9 February 2008

U lekarza - Part Deux

Doctor: I can't find anything wrong with you. It must be the drink.
Pinolona: Ok, I'll come back in the morning when you're sober.

P: Doctor, doctor, I keep stealing things!
Doc: Try these pills. And if they don't work, bring me back a DVD player.

P: Doctor, doctor, I keep seeing double!
Doc: Just take a seat
P: Which one?

Still feeling pretty awful, I decided to take on the Polish health system once again. This time, no nice appointment at the swanky private clinic. Oh no, I pay my ZUS and it's about time I started getting my money's worth.
Unfortunately, this means presenting yourself for registration at seven thirty in the morning.
I actually had to call back to check:
- Hello, I just called a minute ago. Sorry, was that 7.30 in the morning? ... It was? ... oh. ok. thanks.

What they don't tell you is that clever Poles know the system, and so when you slink in, blinking and yawning, at 7.31am, there are at least nine people (most of them women of the 60+ beret-wearing variety) who have already had their backsides firmly planted on the wooden benches in the corridor since 6.58.

Queueing in official places in Poland requires special strategies and constant alertness. On arrival, you have to mark your presence by first by asking the room if everyone is waiting for room 101 (or whichever). You then consolidate your position in the queue by checking who is last and making sure that they are on-side to pass the baton on to you on their exit from the hallowed halls. Eye contact and gaining sympathy is key here. If they should move seats, be sure to move yourself too so that the others remember that you are next.
I am not normally so assertive, especially in Poland, where formal interaction confuses me and I am not familiar with the system. Fortunately, the person in front of me was a sympathetic non-beret wearer who clearly took pity on stupid foreigners.

We all got out books and crosswords and waited. An hour passed. One or two people left. At around half past eight, the magic door opened and things started to move.

After two hours of waiting, it was finally my turn.

- Hmm, said the doctor, after I'd showed her all the old prescriptions and boxes that I'd been through since the beginning of January.
- You know what, you're not sick, just run-down. You don't have any infections or anything. But you have been taking a lot of medication. Stop taking the drugs. Take probiotics and eat vitamins and use non-scented soap.

- I'm sorry: do you mean finish the drugs, or stop taking them?
I have some trouble with details in Polish, and it's always worth checking.
But this time I hadn't misinterpreted: a Polish doctor actually told me not to take any medicine!

What's more, there was no mention of magnesium, hot milk with garlic, tea with raspberry syrup or any of the other traditional Polish elixirs.

I was astounded, but not for long. The doctor was pointing something out to me: a postcard of a rather brutal urban landscape photographed from the other side of a wide estuary.
- You're English. This is where my son lives. Do you know this place?

The caption read 'Dundee'...


Dictor Toolittle said...

O, I do know that my fellow country-song only too well! :)

Come cough up your zus
Come fill up your queues
Come addle your thinkings
Out what you should dos

And it's hours behind you -
but then you gae free,
And you even git questioned -
'bout bonnie Dundee!

pinolona said...

Nice song!

Och, Dundee. What can I say.
I think I went there for shopping and fencing competitions and maybe the odd pint.

To be avoided unless absolutely necessary. To be honest, if you're Polish and looking at moving to the UK, I can think of better options...

the sister said...

Whenever I pass through Dundee it's because I'm visiting the boy's parents in Aberdeen. I always drive straight through and make sure the doors are locked...

Anonymous said...

Your in our blogging circle and yet I somehow never managed to get here. Now I discovered you blog and it's so funny!
pity for "stupid foreigner" i was rolling on the floor:]]