On Friday 24th August I got a splinter in my left hand index finger which, for a right handed guitarist, is the very worst finger to injure. The splinter was from an old piece of timber that had been exposed to the elements for years and no doubt excesses of bodily waste from insects, birds and rodents. Being very brittle it broke flush as I tried to remove it and with a pair of tweezers I managed to remove a 4mm piece but I knew there was more inside that I could not reach. By Saturday evening my finger was nearly twice the size it should be so I called in at my local chemist for advise and was told to go to the A&E at the local hospital at Loule. I arrived there at 20:00 and saw the receptionist and the triage nurse who both spoke good English and then I went to see the doctor who, although she appeared to understand English she used Google translate to communicate with me. Eventually she wrote that I must have a X-ray and I immediately said "X-ray não bom por madeira" which literally translated means "X-ray no good for wood" but she insisted so off I went. The X-ray technician asked what I was there for and when I told him he said that the X-ray will not detect wood only an ultrasound would work. I said I had told the doctor this and he left the room but came back a few minutes later muttering under his breath and two X-rays were duly taken. I was later called to see the doctor again who proudly showed me the enlarged X-ray of my finger and said "Look no madeira". By this time it was 23:00 and I had lost all confidence in her medical skills so accepted her prescription for antibiotics and iodine and went home.
Ten days later on Monday 3rd September, the swelling had gone down and I could see and feel the splinter so I went back to A&E hoping that I would see a different doctor, and I did. He agreed that he could see and feel there was something there but he would not take any notice of my suggestion that he use a scalpel to open up my finger and remove the splinter. I needed an ultrasound before anything could be done so he wrote a paper out and suggested that I go to the doctors surgery in Almancil but I said the I never went there as the only English speaking doctor had left some years ago so he sent me to the doctor's surgery at the hospital but after waiting 45 minutes and getting no where I thought I might try Almancil. Off to Almancil I trot eventually getting to the receptionist who says no one speaks English. Later that day I was talking to my friend Sara who said it was her day off on Tuesday and she would come with me and translate, What an angel!!
Tuesday morning at 09:00 we arrive at the Loule doctor's surgery and eventually get to see the receptionist who informs us that I am registered at Almancil and so I must go there. Off we go to Almancil and Sara makes an appointment for me at 12:40 on Wednesday and informs me she will be available to come with me and translate.
Wednesday we get there on time and the doctor seems to be saying to Sara that I must have an ultrasound so I chime in "Please, use a scalpel to open it up and remove it for me". He ponders for a moment or two, then gets up and requested that I follow him and get ushered into another room with a lady in a white coat who I later find out is the nurse. She looks and feels my finger asking where it hurts, then sprays it with some very cold substance to numb it, takes a large hypodermic needle and in a few seconds says. "It is out and it is a large one" It was about 5mm long and my finger immediately felt fine, no discomfort at all.
So I see three doctors but it takes a nurse to sort out my problem.