Making My Deaf Self Heard

The nice thing about living in beautiful compounds in Jeddah is that you can enjoy outdoor pools all year round. The bad thing is that lots of swimming can bring ear problems. And so it did to Savannah and me.

My ear has been plugged for a little over a month. The consulate nurse’s initial treatment didn’t work, and because doctor offices were closed for the two-week Hajj holiday, I couldn’t get an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat doctor until yesterday. So here’s how the day went down:

After getting the kids from school and hurrying them to finish their homework, I send Halen and Grace to play at a neighbor’s house.

Savannah and the baby and I load into a consulate car, which will take us to the hospital where the doctor’s office is located.

We arrive at the hospital. It’s pristine and beautiful.

We locate our doctor’s office and sign in.

The receptionist calls me up from the waiting room to tell me I need to go to the insurance office to get my paper stamped.

Me: But I’m paying cash today. I’m not paying with insurance.
Receptionist: Okay, but you must get the paper stamped.
Me: Really? Even though I’m not paying with insurance?
Receptionist: Yes, you must. We need a stamped paper.
Me: But I am paying cash. I still need to go to the insurance office?
Receptionist: Yes.
Me: Are you sure?
Receptionist: Of course!

We locate the insurance office, hand them our papers, and wait.

The lady at the receptionist office says she is almost finished with my paper. But first the finance office must stamp it.

Me: Really? I am paying cash today.
Lady: Yes.
Me: Are you sure?
Lady: Yes.
Me: Okay, where is the finance office?
Lady: Sorry, mum, I think it is closed already.
Me: [blank stare]
Lady: Can you come back tomorrow?
Me: [blank stare] No.
Lady: I am sorry.

I call the nurse at the consulate. She is aghast and says I didn’t need to go to the insurance office. I return to the doctor’s office and stand in line to talk with a different receptionist.

Me: I am a cash patient. The other receptionist sent me to the insurance office, but I didn’t need to go there. Can I pay cash for my appointment today?
Receptionist: Of course!

We listen to the call to prayer. Doctors trickle out of their offices to pray in the mosque around the corner.

We finish filling out paperwork and take a seat in the waiting room again.

I realize I have been sitting in the men’s waiting room, and I go to the women’s waiting room instead.

We watch a man on the television screen who is telling callers how to improve their singing of verses from the Koran.

We watch a documentary of birds eating a dead caribou.

The baby discovers that pens are awesome playthings and mercifully enjoys playing with them for a long time.

I ask the nurse when we will see the doctor. She says we’re next.

Savannah is hungry. So is the baby. Baby starts whimpering, and I start pacing the room with her.

Baby starts screaming and won’t be calmed. We continue to pace.

Savannah is hungry. So am I. It’s becoming apparent that even if we do get in to see the doctor, the baby will not be consolable.

I approach the receptionist.

Me: I have been here three hours, and I am finished. Please give me my money back.
Receptionist: [surprised] You want to cancel?
Me: Yes.

It’s a good thing the receptionist doesn’t object or try to make things better, because I might snap at her if she does. She fusses out of the room, and the office manager comes in, looking surprised. I am calling my driver to come pick me up. A supervising nurse comes in, looking surprised. The receptionist returns and pulls my refund of $160 out of the till.

I thank her, snap up the money, turn on my heel, and exit the room swiftly.

My driver arrives.

Savannah and I arrive home.