Thursday, April 27, 2006

My First Belgian Hospital Experience - Chapter One: Ou Est L'Hopital?

I left the apartment Thursday morning on a mission to find a neurosurgeon. Three clinics, a pharmacy and two doctor's offices later, I was willing to settle for anyone open. (For non-Belgianers, or, ignorant expats like me, a red cross = clinic, a green cross = pharmacy, and a blue cross = a potentially very embarrassing situation if you walk in and ask to see a doctor without carrying something on a leash or in a cage! Oh well, live and learn, that's my new motto.)

After a couple of miles walking, some of which was in circles, I finally found a large hospital complex on Rue Alexiens, not far from the Mannequin Pis. I walked inside and went immediately to the reception area. The mademoiselle behind the counter spoke no English, but she pointed me toward her colleague, who was on the phone. I patiently waited for monsieur to finish his conversation, and then, in my best Spench, asked if it was possible to see a neurologist without an appointment. He told me "trois etage" a "gauche". I took this to mean go to the third floor and take a left. I went to the trois etage and took a left, only to find the "urology" and "gynecology" departments.

I returned to the reception area and, again, found monsieur on the phone. Since the massive headache and incredible nausea were cutting into my patience, I asked mademoiselle, "ou est neurology?" while pointing to my head. She held up 5 fingers, which I stupidly took to be the fifth floor. Once on the fifth floor, I realized that there was no "ology" department even closely resembling what I was looking for, so I took the elevator to the sixth floor, resigned to searching the entire hospital, floor-by-floor, to find the neurology department.

As luck would have it, when the elevator doors opened on the sixth floor, voila, I had found the neurology/psychiatry department. Between my broken French, the receptionist's broken English, and the willingness of a patient in the waiting room to translate (and I do use that term lightly), I learned that the neurology department was closed on Thursdays. They directed me to the emergency department of their sister hospital – “very close”.

Off I went, address in hand: 322 Rue Haute. Finding Rue Haute was not my problem. Finding the hospital on Rue Haute was a different story. (And, for the record, “very close” is a relative term. For someone with a staggering headache and an urge to vomit every 15 seconds, “very close” means “right around the freaking corner” and not “up the hill, through the major intersection, take a right on the side street, cross a plaza, and then walk the entire length of a very long street.”)

For starters, I was at 62 Rue Haute, which meant I had a whole lot of walking to get to 322. When I got to the 300 block, I did not see anything that resembled a hospital. It looked like a large residential area. Where's one of those red-snakey sign things when you need them?

I finally found this billboard on a chain-linked fence (I'll get a photo posted for your viewing pleasure), which told me to follow the orange feet to the green arrows to get to the "Urgencias" department.

Stay tuned for Chapter Deux: The Waiting Room. (This is where it gets interesting!)

© 2006 by Cindy Lane. All rights reserved.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Tylene said...

Girl, don't leave me hangin' like that! Where's Chapter 2?

12:07 AM  
Anonymous V-Grrrl said...

Spench? Don't you mean Franish?

7:31 PM  

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