Monday, June 27, 2011

Our trip to the Athens hospital

Right towards the end of our Greece trip I started to feel very ill. It hit me one day as we were taking a boat back from Naxos island to Athens. At first I thought I was just seasick, but once we got to our hotel in Athens it felt like my body had shut down. I was shaking and nauseous and just overall feeling terrible. I sent Luke and Jack out to play so I could get some rest and that is when the hot flashes started. I would start sweating and nothing could cool me off and I was completely out of it. When Luke and Jack got back I mentioned that I may need to go to the hospital to see what was wrong. I called my doctor back in Switzerland to see what he thought and his opinion was that if I have a fever, it is possible I got food poisoning. Typically food poisoning is not terribly dangerous, but when you are pregnant certain types of food poisoning are potentially lethal to the baby. So we headed to the hospital. 

Of course we had no car so we had to call a cab, and we had no idea what hospital to go to so we just explained our situation to the receptionist who then informed the cab driver where to take us. When we pulled up to the hospital we couldn't believe how packed it was! There must have been 15 ambulances arriving at the same time as us and our cab driver practically threw us out of his cab then told us the fee was 10 euros and when Luke gave him a 20 and asked for the change, the cabbie just drove away. We were left at the front of this hospital in a scene straight out of an ER movie. The ambulances were unloading all sorts of people in various states of sickness. Gurneys with victims kept whizzing by us as we tried to walk through the entrance. As soon as we walked through the door, the guards informed us that Jack was not allowed inside. All I wanted was to find the maternity ward and get checked out, but instead they ushered us into some back room to wait. We didn't know why we were waiting, or what we were waiting for, but we just waited. Until someone who didn't speak English offered to watch Jack while Luke and I entered the hospital. Luke and I were taken to a room and asked several questions. I think they were trying to determine why I was at this hospital when all I was really looking for was to find an obstetrician. After a while I was worried about Jack so Luke went back to check on him while I sat in the hot seat trying to answer the questions. Meanwhile, one by one, patients would come into this room and get checked out by other nurses. These were truly sick people and I was starting to feel really stupid for going to the hospital. 

Finally I got my point across that we must have been taken to the wrong hospital and my intention was to go to a place with an obstetrics ward. They called another cab for us and sent us off to another hospital which apparently had obstetricians. As we were in this second cab I was just praying for a nice OB/GYN who could take my blood, monitor the baby and make sure everything was okay so we could go home. After the carnage of the first hospital my nerves were on edge and I was wishing more than anything to be back in Switzerland where the hospitals are clean and orderly. Just then our cab pulled up to another hospital. A couple of guards came out and told us to leave, that we weren't allowed to be here. We tried explaining that another hospital sent us here, but they wouldn't buy it. Our cab started to drive away when Luke told him to stop and have the guards call inside the hospital and check. Sure enough, the first hospital had alerted this new hospital we would be coming so we were allowed to go inside. Although once we got inside all I wanted to do was leave again. This was the most disgusting hospital I have ever been in. Luke and Jack went to search for some dinner and I went to find a doctor. I felt like I was walking through a scene from a horror movie. Everything in the hospital was creepy. There were random people walking the halls, screams and moans coming from the rooms and what appeared to be homeless people sitting along the walls. I was sent to an examination room to see the doctor. The exam room was filthy. I was really debating whether enduring potential food poisoning would actually be safer than staying at this hospital. Finally the doctor came in and was very gruff. As he was talking to me several pregnant women would come in the room crying or screaming or pacing and he would say something in Greek and send them on their way. The doctor agreed that I may have an infection from something I ate so he decided to take my blood to test it. I was expecting him to pull out a dirty, used needle to stick in my arm and I breathed a sigh of relief when he pulled out one of the pre-packaged pre-sealed needles. He took my blood, then told me to wait 2 hours for the results. By this time it was probably almost 11pm so I went to find Luke and Jack. The hospital was not in a nice area by any means and just to get in and out you have to walk through guards. But I finally found them and we made our way back to the hospital to wait. 

We sat in the creepy corridor for 2 hours, listening to screams and moans and watching weirdos walk up and down the aisles. Finally, after 2 hours of waiting the doctor told me I had no infection, but that it showed I was dehydrated. That was the best news I had heard, but also I was so frustrated that I made us all go through this hospital hopping hell for no reason. The doc gave me a guide of what to eat and drink for the next two days to combat the dehydration and we left. 

I have never been so thankful for the nice hospitals I am accustomed to as I was at this moment. I will never again take for granted having a clean, well run, sterile hospital available for me in case of emergencies.  And in the future I know how important it is to stay hydrated, especially when pregnant. Who know dehydration could make you feel so ill!

I was too scared to take pictures of this creepy place.
But I managed to get one on my phone of the signs in Greek,
the language is so foreign to us I am amazed we were
even able to find our way through this hospital. 

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