La Cruz Roja means The Red Cross, but the Red Cross is different here in Costa Rica than in the United States. The Cruz Roja runs the ambulance service here and all the EMT/paramedics. I had my first experience with them today. I had got bitten by a few small ants yesterday and my foot and ankle started swelling. I didn’t think much of it at first as this has happened before. A little benadryl at bedtime and some claratin in the morning usually gets it on its way to getting better quickly. Well, that didn’t happen this time. In fact it was getting worse today as the day went on. Also, it is Sunday, my local clinic is not open on Sundays. So the hubby made me go to La Cruz Roja to see if there was anything they could do for me. They looked at it and said, “This is not normal.” I just laughed and smiled, I knew that already. They insisted that I go to the clinic in the next bigger town over and now. I was just thinking OK, I will take the bus. Nope, they made me go in the ambulance. They were very nice to me the whole time. I think they were worried about the swelling getting worse and spreading. They had every right to worry as it turns out. While sitting at the clinic waiting to be seen, I could watch my foot and ankle swelling more and more. Then the numbness started in the toes. I was starting to get really worried myself at this point. Well, the doctor who seen me I had seen before in my town, which was a comfort to me. By this point I could barely put any pressure on my foot as the pain was getting so intense. He asked me what type of ant it was, he was thinking it was a bullet ant, which are very large and painful. They don’t call them bullets for nothing. I told him it was just a very small black ant. The doctor even looked very concerned, as it was easy to tell I was having an allergic reaction to it. But definitely an infection going on now. He ordered me up an injection to help speed up the healing process and a bunch of antibiotics and some pain meds. Keep in mind they do not use narcotic pain killers here.
Also, it is funny, what you might think is an easy name in English can sometimes be just the opposite in Spanish. The poor girl who was trying to call me back for my shot had no idea how to say either my first name or last name. I saw her looking around and new she was looking for me. She finally saw me and pointed to me. I really laughed this time, and so did she and her coworkers. The poor pharmacist even had trouble saying my name. It is so easy in English, but it gets mutilated in Spanish. For one there is no ‘sh’ sound and the LL comes out completely different here. I just go with the flow and enjoy it. But all of this today cost me $0. Nothing for the ambulance ride, nothing for the doctor visit, nothing for the medicine. It is all covered by the social security, which is their health insurance. For my husband and I we pay $93 a month and that is it. I love this country.