Sometimes people say that the Italians brought bureaucracy to Ethiopia and that the Ethiopians took it and ran with it. Sometimes it can be a nightmare. Today I had an appointment at the dermatologist at the hospital. There’s been a bump on my wrist for about a year and I needed to get it removed.
My appointment was originally yesterday, Wednesday afternoon, because that was the only time they did that kind of procedure. I found out yesterday morning that my appointment had been moved until this morning, for reasons unbeknownst to me. The Peace Corps Medical Assistant told me to be at the hospital at 7:30am for my 8am appointment. I got there at 7:15. I went tot he receptionist and she sent me to the nurses stand.
The nurse told me to sit down and wait for thirty minutes. At 7:50 I went back and waited as the nurse avoided eye contact and helped everyone in line behind me. I’m assuming she was afraid of having to speak English. Eventually she gives me a card to fill out with my name, weighs me, hands be a bit of cardboard from an old box of medicine with “Dr. F 5” written on the back. She motions for me to go to the corner to what appears to be a broom closet.
Inside the broom closet is a man and a ticket machine. He asks me which doctor i’m seeing and then taps Dermatology on the ticket machine’s screen. The machine prints out a ticket with my call number: 0013. He tells me to sit down and wait. Thirty minutes later my number is called and I can finally go to the receptionist. The receptionist writes my name on a folder, gives me a card with my name and clinical number, and then sends me to the cashier to sign. The cashier then has be go back to sit down again. About 45 minutes later, a young woman in scrubs comes out, collects about 10 patients, and leads us back into a smaller waiting room outside Dr. F’s office. He’s currently with patient number 3. I sit down two seats away from the door next to patient 4.
When it’s my turn I show Dr. F the bump on my wrist and tell him that it needs to be removed. He asks, “why?” Why?! Because it shouldn’t be there and it hurts. That’s why.
He measures it, tells me it’s 6mm, and that I have to make an appointment for next Wednesday afternoon because they only do those procedures on Wednesday afternoons. After three hours of waiting I see the doctor for 5 minutes and he tells me to make another appointment. I call my Peace Corps doctor and make Dr. F talk to him. Dr. F agrees to do the procedure on his lunch break when he finishes with all of his out patients. We schedule it for 12:15. Only a couple more hours of waiting.
Dr. F tells me to go back to the receptionist to sign a paper to get a ticket so that I would be permitted into the procedure waiting area.
After much more confusion and bizarre bureaucracy at the receptionist, I get a new ticket with chicken scratch saying something about Dr. F and a procedure. The young woman in scrubs takes away my ticket and leads me back to the same waiting area outside Dr. F’s office. She is confused when the procedure room is empty. I explain that the procedure will be at 12:15. She tells me to come back then and takes my ticket away.
Now I’m waiting a the hospital cafe for a few hours. My phone has 9% battery left and my charger is at home. I’m hoping I’ll still be able to call my taxi to come get me if I’m ever finished here.
I’m supposed to be at an important meeting all day today. Instead I get to have this less than lovely cross-cultural experience at one of the nicest hospitals in the country. This place is so ridiculous.
Last night I was worried that the doctor might slip while slicing this bump off and slit my veins open. Now I’m just worried that I’ll be waiting in this hospital forever.
Update: Procedure went fine. I have to go back in 10 days to get the stitches removed. Hopefully next time it will be smoother since I know which lines to wait in.