Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Cuban Doctors do not Smoke Cigars After All

Another day at the hospital: the queue to get files is always the most curious. It’s a seated queue, and every now and then, you shuffle along a few seats. It’s like a very slow game of musical chairs: it takes about two hours.

In a ‘line’ of fifty souls, there were just four books in evidence (counting mine). A woman with a ‘phuza’ face (booze face) pored over the popular tabloid, ‘Die Son’. An old lady crocheted something frilly in lilac and a young man messed about with his cell phone. The rest just waited.

The man next to me was wearing short pants, sandals, T-shirt and a woolly balaclava hat pulled down over his face so that only his eyes showed. There were burns on his arms, some quite nasty. A bad smell emanated from him. I don’t want to know what he was hiding under that hat.

On my other side was a neat, young makhoti (Xhosa married woman) who smelled of soap. I leaned towards her to breathe in the clean scent in an attempt to banish the odour of putrification.

Once I had my file, I recklessly blew R20 on a toasted sandwich and a cool drink (not beer, worst luck) at the hospital cafeteria with its stainless steel, operating-theatre-like tables and hospital-green plastic chairs. Thus fortified (it’s amazing what courage one can draw from a cheese and tom sannie) I proceeded to the outpatients’ consulting rooms.

There was another long wait, and then the nurse called me in for my test results. It was the Cuban doctor again. We have lots of them in our hospitals.

Our South African doctors love to emigrate, so we get Cubans to take their places. I don’t know whom the Cubans get to replace them in turn. He was brisk and professional, he didn’t smell of coconuts or have a cigar. I didn’t have to have any bits looked into, which was nice for a change.

Upshot is, they’re pretty sure they’ve got me in good time - just a routine hysterectomy in March and everything will be beer and skittles again. I’m very happy with this. I suppose I will be less happy with it on the day and for some days thereafter, and especially when I get my bill, but that’s okay too.

Todays pic: clear horizons and time for reflection (Phew, that was imaginative)


  1. You have a knack for taking a rather ordinary plumbing story and turning it into something actually readable! When the book comes out though we want "sex in the hospital" or a least a couple murders. The cafeteria sounds like a good place...for the sex anyway. I am glad you are more or less normal and
    caught it time

  2. "just a routine hysterectomy"... You can't fool me, dear one.
    Having said that- I'm extremely relieved to hear such great news. I agree with Jerry that you make the most mundane stories brilliant.

  3. Beer and skittles, good news. Really happy to hear it. It's interesting coming into someone's blog after they've been doing it for a while. I'm really not sure why you go to the hospital so much, but I still feel concerned. I read others' comments and wonder at what they know. Anyway, best of luck with it all. This is me, sending good energy your way.

  4. Cheese and tom sannie...love it. I've never thought of a hysterectomy as being routine, but glad it's not worse. Take care.

  5. holy cow girl...a hysterectomy? I hope you have somebody coming to take care of you after the surgery...

    PS all our South African doctors have taken up residence in my small home town... and I am not kidding you!

  6. I'm relieved. I wish they were 100 percent sure; in medicine, though, that's never possible.

  7. i'm glad you had a soapy lady to sniff so as to avoid the rotting man.

  8. Hospital waiting rooms are not made to be fun places. This is an immutable rule of a cruel and uncaring universe. This is why, whenever I have to go, I try and take a funny book: Kinky Friendman, for instance. Then, when i laugh out loud, I can be sure of the fact that i am making a noise that's not heard there very often, if at all.
    Good luck with the hysterical. My lovely lady wife had one a few years back. I wish i could say she was back horse-rising within days, but I can't: she's never ridden a horse. Nonetheless, it all went well, and took about a month to fully recover.

  9. Sorry you have to have a hysterectomy do you mind if I ask why?

  10. Love the line about the lady crocheting something frilly in lilac....and love hearing that you're expecting wellness (and beer and skittles).

  11. Stonepost: Novel writing: hospitals are good for sex and drugs, but I don't think they're too good on the rock and roll ingredient!

    PAMO: When the pawpaw hits the fan, it's time to look for the next incoming fruit. My brother has served it up.

    Paulsifer and Siera: My mother died recently of Ovarian cancer. I had my checkups, and find that there are things wrong. So off I go to have my lady bits removed before they kill me.

    Clipped wings: Thanks - nothing like a good sannie!

    Non-Average Girl: I am inundated with offers to care for me - so I'll do. Say 'Howzit' to the SA docs for me!

    HW: One day at a time. Thanks for sticking with me!

    Sherlin: So was I, believe me!

    Aotewriter: I saved the rest of Bill Bryson's 'Down Under' as the most appropriate book to take along! Thanks for the other information - they were supposed to give me an 'info sheet', but they forgot and so did I!

    Siera: Answer addressed to you and Paulsifer above. No, I don't mind! Make sure you go for your regular checkups!

    Ajax. Beer! Beer! Never mind the bloody skittles! Now my infernal brother distracted me from my fell intent to get people to meet fascinating you. Curse that man!

  12. I'm sorry to hear that, but am glad you're getting things checked in to. I have a grandfather who refuses to go see a doctor, though he thinks things might be wrong. Makes me scared he won't meet my kids. Glad you're taking the initiative.