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[Comments] (2) a true expat: Today I had a truly expat experience. I spent the afternoon at Manipal Hospital. For over a month now, I've been having chest pain. I assumed it was from some Indian bug or other and quietly waited for it to pass. Rather than pass, the chest pain grew more constant and added a few friends: numbness in my upper arms, tingling in my fingers, stabbing pain in my shoulders, and fatigue. Today I'd had enough.

The hospital scared me at first. There were so many people there! I found the ER, because I didn't have any sort of doctor appointment, and waited in line where it said to register. The registration desk pushed me in the ER, where everyone asked who I wanted to visit. I convinced them I was there for me only, and they shooed me upstairs to the general physicians office, since I wasn't bleeding.

Still bewildered, I found the place, stood in line again, to be told I needed to register with the hospital. I went back to the front desk, filled out some papers, paid 500 rupees, and was now official. They gave me a frequent customer rewards card of some sort, with my name on it even, and sent me back upstairs. I also had to promise to bring my passport next time.

Back upstairs, all official, I waited about 10 minutes and passed the time with Sudoku. I went in to a rather dire doctor's office; the poor guy has nothing but dim flourescent lighting and windowless concrete walls. I told him my story, showed him my tongue, my chest (no legions; I think I would have told you otherwise), and he gave me a paper with instructions for an ECG. Back downstairs to cardiology. I paid 180 rupees for an ECG, again went down another hallway, took off my shirt and received my heart beat on paper.

Back upstairs to see the doctor. The good news is my heart seems fine. But he's concerned my heartbeat is too low, as my resting beat is only 63 bpm. He potentially suspects a hypothyroid, which would explain away most of the symptoms. But we won't know until tomorrow. In the morning, back to the lab, pay some more rupees, get my blood drawn (on an empty stomach), come back that afternoon for the results, and then back to visit the good doctor.

It's an interesting process, to say the least, especially if the situation were more dire, but honestly I saw the doctor pretty quickly considering I had no appointment. And the whole experience only cost $14. My driver Sandeep hasn't been to this hospital because it's too expensive. And he's right; my $14 is almost 3 days pay for him.

I'm nervous but also anxious to figure this out. Though I don't want a thyroid problem, I'd love an answer that modern medicine can fix so I can get back to my semi-normal life. I survived the Indian hospital, and now hope to survive whatever is affecting me. It's really interfering with my life; I hope we don't have to come home early over this, only to get no answers in the US. Being sick is the pits.


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