Cultural Differences? | Dafacto

The personal website of Matt Henderson.

Cultural Differences?

02 November 2005

My friend Neal, who lives in the United States, broke his finger recently, and was telling me about his treatment. I was kinda shocked at the contrast with respect to my own treatment, living in Spain, when I recently broke my toe.

Neal went to his HMO doctor, who inspected the swollen hand, and immediately recommended him to a “Hand Specialist.” Next day, the Hand Specialist took some x-rays and had Neal scheduled for surgery the very following day. Neal left surgery with a finger full of allen screws to allow for little weekly adjustments to make sure, when all healed up, that his finger is just like new. Neal has weekly follow-ups with x-rays to make sure everything’s on track. And Neal got some pain medicine.

On the other hand…

After breaking my little toe, I went to the local clinic’s emergency room, and waited, and waited, and waited, until I finally got to see the resident student doctor. Without hardly acknowledging my presence, he sends me off for x-rays. Thirty minutes later, I’m back in the office, the doc’s still busy studying something obviously much more important than me on his desk. He looks up at the x-rays, “Yep, it’s broken. In two places. Guess that must hurt.”

Me: "Yeah, doc, so, uh, what do I do? What's the protocol? Will I ever walk again? Why is my entire foot purple? First time for me here, you know." Doc: "Buddy tape it to the adjacent toe, and come back if it still hurts in two months." Me: "Er, uh... Buddy what? Ok, so let's talk about what that means. How do I manage with a broken toe? Will this affect my diet? Should I place any weight on it? Can I wear shoes? Can I type? Can I..." Doc: "That'll be all. Sheryl will be in a few minutes to buddy tape it before you leave." Me: "Uh, hold on.. What about...."

(Doctor leaves the room… Sheryl enters without a word, and starts taping…)

Me: "Hi, Sheryl, first time customer here! :-) ... :-( So... uh, what's the taping strategy? What kind of angle you going for there? Is that special tape? How long between changes? Biodegrable? Washable?..."

(Sheryl finishes and walks out without a word. Must be going to fetch me the broken-toe literature or something.)

(10 minutes pass. Matt opens the door, looks down the hall. Begins to understand nobody’s coming back…)

So there you go. What a difference. While Neal gets a brand new straight finger, I get a little toe that will forever lean to the right from months of being buddy taped. And I didn’t even get pain meds.

Ok, readers, on the agenda tomorrow: my next trip to this same clinic, where I had to undergo “an analysis”.

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