Peter was up all night writhing around in pain, whimpering about how something wasn't right. He kept getting up and walking around our bedroom. Sleeping going on last night: none.
Not trying to score pity points with his mussed look, this morning he made himself pretty for his own med unit and walked miserably to the car, prescribing himself an ultrasound. At work, Gabby, Getta and Ouana, his amazing staff, went into immediate action, taking his temperature, blood pressure and blaming a local restaurant.
The med unit crew insisted on an ambulance. "For safety." (I guess I shouldn't have let him take that shower without back-up.) Nothing like a Monday morning, first-day-back-after-the-holidays wheel chair ride to the curb, where flight-suited cigarette-scented paramedics covered Peter-on-a-gurney with a blanket and slid him into the ambulance.
On the way to the hospital, Gabby, Peter's nurse, formerly head of nurses at the very Floreasca hospital we were headed to, made a phone call to the head of emergency. The perimedics rolled Peter into the shiny new half of the state hospital. Behind us in the old half, continuing her wait, a gypsy lady with impressive sideburns.
They stuck Peter with needles--I knew he must be feeling out of it because he didn't even bother to faint--got an IV going, asked the same questions a lot of times about his so-bad-he-threw up pain. Doctors taking histories, nurses--who wear scrubs covered up with bathrobes, while the patients stay dressed--more doctors. Gabby waves at everyone and they come over to kiss her and wish her La Multi Ani, Happy New Year. A technician wheels in a monitor and Gabby threatens Peter with a trans-vaginal ultrasound. In two seconds the tech finds kidney stones. He then spends five more minutes touring Peter's other organs, "There is the apendix that isn't the problem."
In spite of Peter's entertaining innards, the big show is two beds over. A lady with an eye-catching mylar blanket has her arm wrapped up as if someone hadn't been sure what to do, so they kept wrapping. "She was stabbed," Gabby tells me. Ugh. I try not to look. Me not looking observes, she's lying on her side, wearing an oxygen mask, the flashy mylar has slipped down to expose her breasts. The knife, still impaled, enthroned on a mound of gauzed-up shoulder, points its handle to the ceiling. Her husband stabbed her, Gabby tells me. I send the lady good vibes, prayers, white light, good wishes that she never gets a kidney stone. Poor thing.
Peter meanwhile has been given pain meds and now makes pee jokes. The head internist checks in, a surgeon comes by to declare surgery unnecessary. Whew. I really didn't want to have to call London to find out how to medivac Peter myself. Gabby gently rolls Peter's sleeves back down and buttons his cuffs.
On the top of my do-not-want list: kidney stones. But the hospital staff was thorough and kind, Peter got to come home the same day in a car, pretty much all put back together, with a typical European-style laundry list of meds. Every time they opened another tube package or another specialist showed up to shake hands and hear Peter's history, I added, American-style, another line to the hospital bill: cha-ching, cha-ching. In the end, the final cost for the hospital visit: 0 dollars, 0 cents.
On the way back to the Embassy, Gabby asked for money to buy Peter's meds and I gave her 400 RON, hoping it was enough for the load of antispasmotics, antibiotics. She came back with a shopping bag full of pharmaceuticals and two-thirds of the money. She'd spent $15.
The worst part last time was that it happened in a hotel room in the middle of the night in Ougadougou and Peter and were so alone.
This time, Peter went back to the Embassy for a short time and Gabby brought him noodles with butter and soup from the cafeteria.