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(Insert disclaimer about how I really like Chile and I’m super happy to be able to afford health insurance here).

Also, clinic report: Integramédica Alto Las Condes.

So the other day, I had to schlep to the mall. Not just any mall, but the mall that causes me the most ire, the dreaded Alto Las Condes. I’m not much of a mall person in general, don’t much enjoy whiling away the hours while slowly plodding through air-conditioned, fluorescent-lit hallways filled with piles of things I don’t need and a subtle musical soundtrack that says “buy, buy.” Most of the time when I go to the mall, it’s to do something specific, like buy accoutrements for a computer, or a gift for a kid, or try (and fail) to buy a new rug.

First, it’s worth a short diatribe about why I dislike Alto Las Condes. There are many malls in Santiago, some fancier (looking at you Portal La Dehesa and Parque Arauco and Alto Las Condes), and some slightly less so (looking at you Vepuccio Norte, Mall del Centro, whatever those mall’s names are near Mirador and Bellavista on the green line out in La Florida). But they’ve all got Falabella or Paris or Hites or Johnson’s (yes, it’s called that, and there’s one called Mega Johnson’s, please insert laughter here), or one of those giant anchor stores (or more than one) with pants in sizes I still don’t understand and ladies that really really really want to help you pick out your undies, a task I have been mainly in charge of since I was quite small.

But the thing that makes Alto Las Condes stand out in my mind is that I cannot for the life of me figure out how to get inside without walking through a parking lot.

Let me say that again. I have to walk through a parking lot.

Oh, and did I mention, I am not a car?

It vexes me as a problem with urban planning and pedestrian-unfriendliness and other elements of safety and carbon monoxide poisoning, that I, as a human, do not have my own entrance through which I can come and go freely (minus the hobbling, which I’ll get to in a second), and instead, have to look both ways a thousand times and inhale murky brownish “air” in order to go to the mall, which I pretty much didn’t want to do anyway.

So why am I at the mall, and what is the point? Well, it turns out that in addition to liking to lunch, find a bargain on a t-shirt from Zara which will twist and turn when you wash it, and the seams will never lay straight again, and do they actually know that women have posteriors in that store?, women like to go to the doctor. And so there are medical centers in the mall. Specifically, my downtown (hometown, down-home) clinic, Integramédica, has a location up at the Alto Las Condes mall.

sunny hallway on the long walk to "imaging."

Since the great dooring of 2012, I have been hanging onto the hope that what the fancy pants doctor said was true. It’s a sprain. But despite many hopes to the contrary, the pain continued, and so did the swelling, and so I found myself seeking out the foot doctor who told me the sad story of my posterior tibial tendon (ankle troubles) a few years ago. Since being in Chile, I’ve met a few doctors that are keepers, who I trust, and who I have really good communication with. He’s one of them. I think he’s a little scan-happy (loves getting you into Servet for a sonogram), and this time ordered me a CAT scan, but that was probably the right move. Speaking of moves, it turns out he now longer sees patients at the Integramédica near me. He attends at one fairly convenient location up in Providencia, where there were no appointments for the foreseeable future, and also up at the parking-lot-surrounded mall. So up I went. For an hour. On the bus. In the blazing sun. And really bad “entertainment.”

Which is where the diatribe really starts.

Are you kidding me? Long bus ride aside, so first I hoof the several blocks in from the bus stop closest to this mall. Then I arrive inside, and schlep my hobbling foot or my poxy children (imaginary poxy children, I am child-free, and if I had kids they would never get the pox) into the mall, and then up two escalators, drooling my infectious slime all over both, and then into the medical center, which is spread out like a spider, and nothing you need is in the same hairy leg as the other. (am I going to get weird hits for posterior and hairy leg?)

Warning, you are leaving another leg of the spider that is this clinic. Hobble hobble.

I met a 60 or 70 something woman that was coming and going at the same time as me. She had one of those giant, unwieldy orthopedic knee-high boots on, and was humphing along on crutches. Strike out, humph, strike out, humph (is this my future?) And I thought to myself, if they’re going to hide away the best doctors (or best doctors for me) in the middle of a mall in a god-forsaken part of town (where the wealthy people live) that you have to walk through a parking lot to get to, the least they could do is send a sister a wheelchair to the entrance.

And when I bitched to my doctor about the idiocy of a clinic in the middle of the mall, he smiled and said, “Que tanto, si no nos hemos visto durante tres años?” (What’s the big deal, if you haven’t come to see me in three years?)

Low dose cat scan. Cost to me: US $8. Spinny.

He’s saucy that one. And apparently he’s got a list of complaints in the libro de reclamos y sugerencias (complaints book) that’s a mile long because he’s direct, and funny and sarcastic. I also really hope he’s not a proponent of the boot and crutch thing.

Wish me luck.

Also, your mileage may vary, but if you have questions about specific types of docs you think I’ve had experience with and can stand a little saucy sarcasm and whatnot, feel free to reach out and I’ll do what I can, alternatively, ask the knowledgeable folks on FindinChile on Facebook. Email me if you want me to add you. It’s occasionally helpful. Also, may your stay in Chile be doctor (and bike accident) -free.