We enjoyed breakfast at our hostel before heading out to find the city’s health center. We were hoping everything would work out, as the insulin Jeanie had left was now definitely running low.
We found the spot the pharmacy woman had indicated on the map, but it appeared to be a lonely old building lacking the bustle we expected for the city’s main health center. Hmmm . . . A woman came walking down the stairs and I inquired if she knew where the health center was. She informed us it was a few floors higher of the same building. We took off up the stairs, where I was reassured to see a sign that read “Centro de Salud.” “Are you sure?” Jeanie asked uneasily, her skeptical inflection communicating more than her words. We were standing in a heavily graffitied entryway with a single scratched up dark glass door. We entered and waited our turn to speak with the ladies behind the counter.
Before leaving in the morning I had reviewed translations for any specialized terminology we anticipated needing in order to communicate our needs as clearly as possible. When you are not fluent in the host country’s language, this can be a helpful strategy! Being able to explain the needle part of the insulin pen was the main concept we would need this morning. After I explained our situation, the lady told us we should go to a pharmacy to purchase the needles. We told her we were at a pharmacy yesterday who told us we needed to come here for needles. She acted surprised and asked what pharmacy that was before then giving us directions to a different nearby pharmacy where we should go.
We went up the street and soon found the glowing green cross indicating a pharmacy. We went inside, explained our situation again and were met with a similar response: no needles. We were getting a little frustrated now and inquired how a pharmacy could sell the pens and not carry the needles! The pens are completely useless if there is no way for the insulin to get from the pen into a person’s body! The pharmacy sent us back to the health center, and so we headed back on our 4th attempt for obtaining needles. We went back and, when the woman saw that we were not leaving without the supplies we needed, she complied and began filling out a form. She asked for Jeanie’s insurance and we inquired as to what the cost would be. She said she did not know, but we were in no position to refuse as the needles were essential to using the pens that would get Jeanie through the end of the trip.
She then gave Jeanie two different forms to sign, both exclusively in Spanish. Jeanie looks at me, points out that she has no idea what she is signing, and then swishes a quick signature across the bottom of each page. After more shuffling of papers we were directed to a room where a nurse would meet us. We moved towards the room where a woman in white coat handed us a relatively large box of needles. Jeanie took them and opened one to ensure that it was what she would need before we left the building. We asked if there was any way we could purchase a smaller quantity of needles, or even have a mere 1-2 to get us through the end of the trip. The woman replied no, being sure not to break her somewhat cold demeanor. We decided to test our luck and asked if she had any idea how much the box would cost. She responded that she had no idea and then left the room.
Well, clearly our interpersonal skills were out of the ballpark today. We headed back out, determined to enjoy our day on the coastline despite the diabetes quandaries that had taken the majority of our thought energy over the last 24 hours. After a day in the city of Muxia tomorrow, we will begin the journey back to our home coastland in southern California!