We have been totally negligent on updating the blog these last few days. We are still in Aqaba, Jordan, and it has been a long week. We are just now starting to make plans to see some of the highlights of Jordan before returning to Syria. Our time has been occupied with doctor visits, a hospital visit, and following the events in Gaza.
A short summary of Becky’s health crisis:
• Becky develops a fever and sinus infection, which after 2 days doesn’t improve on its own.
• Becky sees a doctor, who gives her many medications and insists she needs injections. This after not taking any sort of patient history, and doing a perfunctory examination. The examination consisted of “say aaahhh”, feeling her sinuses and listening to her chest. No questions about medical history, allergies, chronic conditions, current medications or anything!
• At the second visit, Becky is improving, but the doctor gives her two injections rather than just the one.
• At the third visit, Becky is much improved, but the doctor changes the injection to a different medicine.
• Becky has an allergic reaction to the medicine causing shortness of breath (asthma attacks that don’t immediately improve).
• At the forth visit, the doctor dismisses the shortness of breath and wants to give her a second injection of that same medicine that caused the reaction – Becky refuses the treatment and we pay the doctor and decide never to return to his office.
• Becky goes to the emergency room at the hospital to get here breathing under control. The doctor there seems much more competent, explaining that an allergic reaction is reasonable and giving some new medication to get her asthma under control.
• Becky is finally on the mend (we hope).
So far, we are under-impressed with the medical treatment in Jordan. Although Jordan is in general much more modern than Syria, its medical system seems to be 20 years behind the treatment we received in Syria. The Christian hospital we went to in Aleppo was very clean, well staffed and professional. The only surprise in Syria was that they allowed smoking in the hallways.
Entering the grounds of the hospital in Jordan required going through a military security checkpoint. The guard asked if we had a camera and said we would have to leave it at the security desk. Becky explained and showed him the picture of the medication she needed to show the doctor, so the soldier said it was OK as long as we did not take any pictures. We followed the signs for emergency and saw a sign for reception that had no one at it. It seemed rather chaotic and disorganized to us, but that might be attributed to our lack of Arabic. After being polite Canadians and waiting for 5 minutes, Becky insisted that Scott start being more assertive and figure out what we needed to do. This led us to the actual emergency room and then to accounting to pay and get paperwork before we could see the doctor.
The hospital itself was an interesting mix of military personnel and civilian staff. The nurses uniforms included full Muslim headscarves (in white), which in combination with formal military uniforms gave an impression of cleanliness and sterility; however, the bed linens were clearly not changed between patients. Becky sat on the bed but would not even consider lying down, as there were a number of small drips of random blood on the bed sheet. There was no use of disposable paper bed linings although one of the beds did have a plastic sheet over it (which was filthy). On a positive note, there was no smoking permitted inside the part of the hospital that we saw.
We are now planning on renting a car in Aqaba for 4-5 days, so that we can see Wadi Rum, Petra, the Dead Sea and the various other sites between here and Amman while stopping where we want to. We will return the car in Amman – fortunately, many companies allow you to do one way rentals for free or a very low fee. We have discovered that Internet quotes for rental cars are outrageous, but when you walk in and get a quote they are more reasonable ($40-60 USD per day).
We hope to post some more reflections on Aqaba soon!