Sunday, November 7, 2010

Everybody here is outta sight, they don't bark and they don't bite...

Chile is great.  Everything is going well, the people are friendly, I even enjoy working at my school.  However, there’s a slight problem with street dogs here.  Though there are municipal services that ‘take care’ of street dogs when people report attacks or aggressive behavior by a particular dog, no one ever really cares to report them.  Many people in my neighborhood feed a number of dogs that don’t really belong to anyone.  They sleep on the street every night, bark incessantly, fight other dogs, frequently get killed when they chase passing cars or motorcycles, and occasionally chase me in the park near my house when I’m going for a run.  The point is, there are many things that make Chile great…street dogs are not one of those things.  And they certainly do bite.  

I think that many of you heard it through the grapevine (or through facebook status updates) that a dog bit me recently.  One of the ugly, flea-ridden, street dogs that my neighbors happen to adore because it barks like crazy when anyone it doesn’t recognize walks down our street.  So while I’m familiar with the dog and see it around the neighborhood and on my street all the time, it was decided that I should get vaccinated for rabies just in case.  So on Tuesday, Sept. 28th I went to see a doctor at the urgent care clinic at the hospital of La Ponitificia Universidad Catolica de Chile, which is one of the better private clinics in the country.  I spoke with the doctor and told him the situation.  He prescribed antibiotics, a tetanus booster, and a post-exposure rabies vaccination series.  The tetanus I had, the antibiotics were no problem to get, but wouldn’t you know it, this hospital- one of the best in Chile- didn’t have the rabies vaccine.  The doctor didn’t seem worried either, he just told me to call him the next day to see if they got more of the vaccine.  When I called him the following day, he only told me to call back again the day after.  Finally, three days later, I was able to get the first vaccination. 

The gray dog, known affectionately as Goliat by my neighbors, is the one who bit me
When I went back a week later to get the second dose, they told me to go to the public hospital down the street where I could get the vaccine for free.  Just two blocks down the street, the public hospital was a far cry from the ultra modern clinic at La Catolica.  There were homeless people sleeping on the steps to the building.  I could tell as soon as I entered that I was in a public clinic.  To be blunt, people seemed poorer.  The clinic was understaffed and the building, though sufficient, did not have the same resources that the private clinic did.  However, I was able to get my second vaccine all the same, but the doctor that gave it to me told me not to come back to the hospital to receive (you have to go to urgent care for rabies vaccinations).  Instead, she directed me to a ‘consultorio’ where they had a vaccination center for my next dose.
For my 3rd dose, I found the vaccination center and had no problems.  I just walked in, showed my passport and the sheet with my dose schedule, and five minutes later I was gone.  However, a week later when I went back for the 4th dose to the same vaccination center, it was closed (apparently they close at 3 on Fridays).  So, I decided to go back to the urgent care clinic at the public hospital.  This time it was much worse.  There were probably 30 people in front of me waiting for treatment.  Some appeared to have broken bones.  Others were sitting down in wheelchairs, clutching their stomachs, doubled over in pain.  One lady was vomiting violently for about 3 hours while she was waiting to be taken care of.  I waited for six hours that day for a vaccination that took five minutes to administer (they insisted that a doctor administer the vaccination even though a five year old could have done it themselves).  I was certainly bothered by the fact that I spent my Friday waiting for six hours for a shot, but it also made me think a bit about socialized medicine, its advantages and apparent inadequacies…
Anyway, just last Friday, October 29th, I was up for my final dose.  I made sure that I had the hours of the vaccination center correct before I went and then took care of it.  Anyway, I’m glad that that unpleasant chapter of my life is finished.  Just after I got my shot, I went home, grabbed my bags, and left for a long weekend in Mendoza, Argentina…which you will hear about sooner or later.  Until next time- stay hungry, stay foolish. 

These 2 pictures have nothing to do with dogs, but my blog is generally lacking in pictures and I thought you might like to know what my house and 'hood' look like.  

My street...Pasaje General Armstrong (I still don't know who General Armstrong was)
The 1st floor of my house.  Small but cozy. 

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