Saturday, May 16, 2009
Trip to Temuco and a Femoral Bypass
Greg and I headed out on a cold, overcast Monday morning at 6 a.m. on a bus to Chaiten. Four hours later we were boarding the ship in the harbour. It is a pleasant eight-hour trip to Puerto Montt. We plugged in the computer and watched movies and listened to music. Unfortunately the weather was rainy and cloudy, so the views along the coast were mostly obscured.
In Puerto Montt we disembarked and walked across to a crappy 5,000 peso hospadaje to spend the night. This is the kind of electric pole you will find outside a hospadaje charging so little. We had a nice view of all the street dogs below, and the Duena warns me not to go outside at night!
In Puerto Montt we took a bus to Temuco. The purpose of our trip was medical. Greg had recently experienced increasing pain in his left leg when walking...it became impossible for him to walk from the house up to the road without crippling pain, and a visit to the doctor in Futa confirmed that he had a serious problem. There was no pulse in his left leg below the knee, and little above. The doctor in Futa referred us to a vascular surgeon in Temuco at Clinica Alemana, which is not a clinic, but a full-fledged, modern hospital. We arrived in Temuco around midnight on a Tuesday and at 7 a.m. Greg was admitted and wheeled away to start all the tests; angiograms, echo-somethings, EKG, blood tests, the works. A couple of blockages, hardening of the arteries in the leg, On Friday he was discharged with femoral bypass surgery scheduled the following Wednesday.
Surgery done and a complete success, he is planted back in the room and his first two concerns are the hydro system at the house, and the TV remote. This is a guy with priorities!
He will be sprung on Monday if he's a good kid this weekend with physical therapy and walking. We will spend the rest of the month here for follow up before heading back to Futalandia, and hopefully an electrified house.
Anyway, aside from the obvious lessons like paying attention to your aches and pains, and having emergency plans when living in remote areas, there is another lesson. Chile is not a third-world country, it has incredibly talented doctors, surgeons and health care professionals, as well as excellent facilities. Just because Chile is south of the border does not mean it has substandard health care. In fact, so far, this has been an incredible experience...and we feel like we made the right decision in staying here in Chile, instead of making the trip back to the US for evaluation and surgery. From Greg's first visit to a doctor in Futa, to his surgery at Clinica Alemana in Temuco was two weeks. We even got a complimentary DVD of his angiogram! I know many folks are apprehensive about medical care outside of the US, and while there are some countries which should cause concern, Chile is not one of them.
All is good. I'll get some shopping done, stock up on some spices, get some spare parts for the truck, and May 30th, start the slow trip back to Futa, where it is fully into winter now with freezing temperatures and snow!
Our smooth experience was facilitated by Zandra Valenzuela and Charles Spencer, our good friends at www.allsouthernchile.com who have once again rescued us. Zandra is an attorney (and law professor) who along with her husband Charles, have put together a team of relocation specialists and they tackle everything from property purchases, to visa issues, translation services, and assisting with situations such as medical emergencies. Dr. Marcelo Lagos at Clinica Alemana was wonderful and patient with our Spanglish. Typical of many Chileno docs, he's cute too.
So in our five-star hospital room, we are enjoying a continental breakfast while listening to some nice jazz on the computer as I tap away at this post. Yes, in-room wi-fi! Greg is already surfing channels for some Futbol. While we'd rather this trip had been for pleasure, the experience has been one of the most pleasant hospital experiences we've had.