Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Doctor in Riyadh

I visited a Doctor in Riyadh a few months back, for an earache.  I may never go again!

"Ooooouuuucccchhhh, that hurts" normally does not result in a Doctor saying in a surpised and somewhat agitated fashion "Do you feel pain?"

This was my first visit to a hospital in Riyadh to see a doctor for an ailment.  Normally Doctor visits are reserved for really serious things, like "I think I'm dying".  For some reason I just don't like doctors.

But this was the third earache I've had since being in Riyadh.  It was also the third earache I've ever had in my life, though my mother may argue the point, but seriously - I don't get earache!

My first experience of this phenomenon was in Salala - got earache there, treated it with garlic till I figured out, due to a raging temp and general overall unwellness, that this little earache was becoming a problem.

So up to the local pharmacy I went, because Doctor aversion was in full swing, and Mr Pharmacy Man handed over antibiotics.  Earache sorted.

Second earache went away with garlic and vitamin C.

Third earache arrived as a faint twinge, hung around in the background as if making up it's mind what to do (so I did very little), then day three I woke up throbbing - as in THROB-BING. 

Hubby, who loves Doctors and is not happy any time he has to sleep next to garlic, had me in the taxi and on the way to hospital.  Why hospital?  Because being expats who normally have excellent health we have not bothered to find a GP service here in Riyadh (if one exists), and every one knows Doctors work in hospitals.  Right?

W also figured this was an excellent opportunity to actually register at a hospital - something expats are encouraged to do before falling unwell and something we have, thus far, failed to get done.

Hubby came with me for two reasons - knowing how 'I Love Doctors' he wanted to make sure I actually saw one and we'd heard things tend to happen a lot faster in hospitals if women are accompanied by a male husband type.

Not that Hubby did anything - he made me do all the talking.  This is how my visit panned out.

At the appointment desk in the foyer I asked to see a doctor for an ear problem, they direct me to Ear, Nose and Throat.  So far so good.  The English spoken is excellent.  I'm led by husband to the elevator - he still didn't trust me to follow through.  Hmmph!

Approached young Saudi man at ENT reception desk. 

'I'd like an appointment to see a Doctor'
'You don't have an appointment?'
'I also need to register because I'm not registered here'
'You are not registered?'
'This is your first time?'
'I did my Iqama medical here'
'Oh' - is that a good Oh or a bad Oh.  Not sure.

Asks my name and a couple of other questions which are entered into the computer.
'You can pay for the appointment?'
'I have medical insurance' - Hand over BUPA card
'You have insurance.  Good'

Enters lots of data in the computer.  Turns out my BUPA card has expired.  Hubster, who till this point must have been guarding the exit, steps forward with his current BUPA card.  Apparently as My Man he can vouch for me with his card.  Where is my current BUPA card?  He's sure he gave it to me.  Uh-huh.

I'm handed a form to sign.  I sign it.  Hubby asks questions about it - lawyers do that.  Nice Saudi man asks for money.  We pay.  Apparently I am now registered.

Well, that was a lot easier than anticipated given circulating expat horror stories of slow processes.
The nice Saudi man tells me the Doctor will fit me in between appointments, please take a seat.

There are Men and Women Only waiting areas.  We go in search of seating suitable for couples.

Two minutes later I'm taken away by Filipino nurses for pulse, temp and BP.
Return to my seat expecting a long wait.

Three minutes later I hear my name being called.  I nearly miss it cos it's pronounced with a Filipino accent...  (I'd write Mrs L with a Filipino accent but you get the picture).

The doctor is female.  Oh good.  I'm fairly certain this means she will actually look in my ear.
She sits behind her desk and begins firing questions (there is no hello), her accent indicates Eastern European -
'What is the complaint?'
'Is it just the right ear?'
'Is there pain?'
'Does it itch?'
'How long have you had the complaint?'

Replies are given nicely to try and change the interrogative nature of this exchange to something resembling Doctor/Patient interactions I'm used to.

'Hop in the chair'

'The Chair' is where she looks first down my throat, then up my nose, then in my good ear, and finally, with the same care and attention she has shown through out the consult, in my bad ear.

Her decision - my ear needs cleaning.
How do I know? 
She says, 'Bend your head that way' - which I do - and then she sticks a vaccuum in it.
Whhiissssh,  Sccrrreeeee, ssssssssSSSS

The shock factor numbed the first few seconds of vacuuming.  Then it started to hurt.
"Oouuuucccchhhhh! Ouuchh, Aaahhhhhhh!  Yeeoooowwwww!" 
I pull away holding my ear.

She says, Sit still, you must be still. You must not move, you will hurt your ear!

My ear already hurts. Is it blocked? Is anything coming out?  Is this necessary?
No information is forthcoming.

Slightly exasperated she says, You must be still. This is a soft vaccuum, you see (and she holds it against my arm.  Yep feels soft enough)

OK, I'll try again.
Why? Buggered if I know. Deep breath. Implement all relaxation type techniques.
Here we go - Whoosh, Hissssss

Ouch, ouch yeeeooowww. Je-sus Christ! Arrrrrrrccccchhhh!  Shii..iiit!
One should probably not yell Jesus Christ in this Muslim country in case such vocalisation is taken for passionate preaching.   One should probably not swear loudly either.   Of course, it helps if one is not at the mercy of Dr What The Feijoas.

I pull away while a nurse, who has been present throughout, tries to hold me steady.

Tsk. Do you feel pain?  says vacuum welding Dr and not in a nice, caring  'awwww you poor thing' fashion either.  Holy guacamole!  How many hints does she need?

'Yes I feel pain', Duh!
Who says Ouch with a vaccuum stuffed in their sore, inflamed ear if they don't feel pain!  She stops in disgust at my obvious inability to handle the pain she's inflicting. 

Crikey dicks....who is this woman?

She decides to put a wick in my ear.  After assessing the size of wick in her hand, she opts for, or rather demands, that the nurse gets the smaller size.  Thank goodness for that.  Though any relief is short lived as she proceeds to put the damned thing in my ear.

More ouching, ow-ing and shii-itting ensues. 

Eventually, she stops - (hallelujah), and puts drops in my ear.
Then returns to her desk and types on her computer.
I'm left in The Chair with an ear that hurts and muffled hearing, cos it's currently stuffed with a wick, and wondering what the hell?  What kind of treatment is this?  Why the hell did I agree to be party to it?

Since my arrival I have been curious to see what kind of health service people got here.  Quite obviously it's worse than I thought!

I realise Dr Feel No Pain is not coming back to The Chair.
Phew!  Glad that's over.  Flamin heck.
I return to the seat by Hubby who is looking a little distressed.  Apparently he was ready to intervene if my agonised cries were to go on much longer.

She asks me a question.
I lean toward her with my good ear, my hand cupped behind it to catch any sound waves, ' Huuuuh!'
At last she cracks a smile.

Still requiring answers I ask, while pointing to a model depicting the workings of the ear, 'So what is wrong with my ear?'  After this treatment I'm expecting something major must be going on.  But no, my ear canal has an infection.

Like....I already knew that.

She tells me if the drops and drugs do not improve things in two days I must come back.  And I can also come back to have the wick removed or do it at home.

On the way out the door Hubby assures me he will take the wick out at home and I will not go ouch. I will feel no pain.

*NOTE: I have since had another ear issue resulting in vertigo.   Fortunately I was in Australia at the time where medical care is, well, more caring.   I'm absolutely certain my Riyadh visit buggered up my ear. I'm currently looking for another Dr in Riyadh should I require one.   Any suggestions welcomed :)



  1. OMG!!! Do you have any dentist stories too?

  2. Riyadh Consulting Clinic on Takhasusi street next to Hyber Panda


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