Try a little tenderness

Buenos Aires Travel Blog

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    As many of you know, I unfortunately have been suffering from spider bites. Now I know that this probably sounds a bit bizarre. After all, it is winter season in Buenos Aires. However, I suppose the spiders don’t care that it is. Like many things, I was naïve to think that these bites were not a big deal and would go away on their own. I soon found out that I had a horrible reaction to them. My hands, arms, and legs soon swelled to excruciating pain. I developed a rash on my arm as well as a fever that left me feeling weak and light headed. Finally, I could not take it anymore and asked for a doctor. The doctor came and did a quick examination and then hastily wrote me a prescription and left. This was all done in a matter of 20 minutes.

            During the exam, I could not help feel as though I did not matter to the doctor. He was very cold to me and acted as if I was over reacting and wasting his time. In short, I felt as though he was very condescending towards me. I wondered why he was so rude and why his bedside manners weren’t better. But then it hit me, why should the doctor be nice to me? What was his incentive? Health care is not privatized so there really was no need for him to be nice to me. He had no threat of me suing him or motivation to give me the utmost care.

            Living in the United States where health care is privatized has somewhat brain washed me. If I am being honest, I have to admit that I expect nurses, doctors and other medical personnel to treat patients with a friendly smile and compassionate heart. I am somewhat conditioned to believe that every doctor and nurse chose his/her profession to help the sick and needy. Although I truly believe that there are individuals out there that have pure altruistic reasons to become a professional in the health care system, I think these people are the exception. I believe that a good percent of these people got in health care for the money. I also believe the prestige of being a doctor serves as another incentive.

            So this brings me to a question: why do people need a reward to do something? If doctors were to make as much money as teachers, would people still want to spend the 10-12 years becoming one? If famous movie stars made as much money as taxi drivers, would they still choose to act? If something isn’t going to be on the test or a quiz, would students still choose to read all the recommended material? The answer to these questions is NO. Granted, there will be those few individuals that are the exception. For the most part, people are greedy. They do things that will benefit themselves. Sometimes we will do things that only partially benefit ourselves, but overall, humans are selfish.

            Now I know what you’re thinking. You probably think that this is a depressing blog. I know I’ve rambled on about how terrible my experience with the doctor was and how people are selfish. Nevertheless, there is a bright side to this. As I was walked into the clinica/pharmacy later that day, I became homesick for the first time. Actually I was longing more for my mom more than the US. I consider myself to be a very independent person, but for some reason every time I’m sick, I become the biggest baby. All I want is for my mom to come and make me feel better. When I was younger, I battled some health problems and my mom was the one person that was there every single time that took care of me. Consequently, battling infection and fever made me truly miss her. However I walked into the pharmacy to fill my prescription and “just get it over with.” I gave the pharmacist my prescription and expected her to get my antibiotics right away. However, she looked up at me and asked why I needed antibiotics. I explained to her my situation and when I was done, she looked at me, gave me a smile, and reached for my hand. She held it and told me that she was glad I was okay and that the medicine was going to make me feel better. Then she gave my hand a final squeeze and left to fill my prescription.

            Although the antibiotics are what made me medically feel better, my heavenly Argentine pharmacist is just what I needed. Although I am thousands of miles away from my family and friends, I feel lucky that I have been shown hospitability and kindness from so many Porteños.  I am especially thankful for the pharmacist. She had sympathy for a spider-bitten Korean-American tourist and took 2 minutes out of her life to show me some compassion. For this, I will always have a great amount of gratitude for her and for many of the inhabitants of Buenos Aires who continuously show me kindness day in and day out.


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