The kids have had several mild illnesses. An odd fever here, frequent running noses, Impetigo, vomit, some headaches but now Clara has a full-body rash. The internet is quite valuable. Especially when you are in this odd void for health insurance (the kids & Jeff have it through BlueCross but the nearest clinic where we can use our insurance is a two-hour bus ride away). There is the standard health clinic in our town (I can see it from our house) but it is also the Spanish-run healthcare clinic and not a private clinic. And since we are not actually employed in Spain – another odd void – the availability to use the clinic is vague. They’ll definitely treat the kids and definitely treat the adults in a true emergency but it was very unclear if we’d get a bill or be asked to pay on the spot. We were told maybe they will charge you, maybe not. Okay. Coming from the U.S. where a simple doctor’s visit without insurance (hell, even with insurance) can be quite costly, especially a walk-in urgent care visit I decided to use the internet to fill the void of a doctor. Not always the best but who doesn’t diagnose themselves first? I diagnosed the Imeptigo that Violet got at the beginning of November. I even managed to get an antibiotic cream from the pharmacy. And with vigilant treatment, Violet’s impetigo went away in three days. So when Clara started showing signs of impetigo (which is essentially the same bacteria as strep throat but as a crusty, blistering rash near the moth & nose) I was on it. She got a very small rash; unlike her sister Violet. The impetigo went away but unfortunately she then developed a fever and broke out in a rash over her entire torso. Which I of course noticed only after she came home from school. I swear, I don’t purposely send my kids to school with contagious illnesses.
I searched on the internet. I read up on rashes. I compared pictures. And I diagnosed it as Scarlet Fever. (Scarlet fever most often follows strep-throat but it can also follow impetigo – since it’s the same bacteria). And try as I might, I found not one reliable source (Hello! WebMD & Mayo Clinic) that said I could treat it with at home remedies. Not one. Antibiotics were the answer. Oral. The kind I had already tried to buy over the counter but couldn’t. We waited one night to make sure it wasn’t just an allergic reaction to new laundry detergent. Her fever returned and her rash looked angrier the next morning. Do we take her by bus to an in-network provider or do we walk 3 minutes to the health clinic and take our chances with both the cost and the language barrier? I figured the health clinic in town couldn’t possibly charge more than our own deductible we’d have to meet back in Washington for a similar visit. So off to the clinic I went.
I could almost here the staff’s (a doctor/nurse and the assistant) exasperation when they realized how very little Spanish I spoke. I had taken the care to use google translate and write down all of her symptoms – in Spanish and in chronological order before heading off. But, I couldn’t answer many of their questions. I immediately went to my ‘ol standby “Mi casa en Buitrago. Mi esposo a Gredos. La nina quatro anos.” They just shook their heads when I pointed to my “Americano trajeta” when they asked to see my spanish health care card. They wrote down Clara’s name in a ledger. They examined her. They felt the rash. They took her temperature. They weighed her when I couldn’t tell them how much she weighed. They wrote up a summary while we sat across from the doctors desk. They also started speaking English near the end when they realized I wasn’t faking my horrible understanding of the Spanish language. I managed to ask “Lunes? Casa o Escolar?” So in broken spanish that’s: Monday? Home? or School? Home was the answer. Actually I was told to visit her doctor on Monday for a recheck of her rash. Hhmm?? Her doctor? I pointed upstairs and questionedly shrugged. (The urgent care clinic was downstairs and the regular office upstairs). I may or may not return for a recheck. At one point, Clara leaned over and said “This isn’t like the doctor’s in Washington.” No, it was not. We sat in more of an office type room. They never took down my name. Or our address. Or our phone number. Or my passport number (which by the way is needed for everything! Even to sign up for gymnastics!). But we got the visit summary which included the prescription for oral antibiotics. Yeah! And the cost of the antibiotics? 2.30 euros. However, it was also a glass bottle with powdered antibiotics that came with instructions in Spanish on how to prepare our own drugs. Jeff used the internet to google the instructions. Thank you internet, again!