June 17: Emergency Room

Saturday morning, Nick was taking Sina and Anya for bodyboarding lessons. Lea and I came to the beach along with them. She wanted to read and I wanted to work on some illustrations and take some more photos.

Then, the day to a weird turn. Sina cut her finger on one of the rocks. She barely noticed it but, the cut was deep so we started the journey to the emergency room. Sina probably needed a stich or two but, Nick wanted to avoid the agony of the emergency room and decided to check medical clinic’s first.

First, we went back to Nick’s place to change cars. Then we dropped of Anya at the train station and went to the first medical clinic in Sintra. The clinic was closed. The second main stop was the mall, which oddly enough had a pharmacy that told us to go to the medical clinic at the other end of the mall. The medical clinic inside the mall told us to go to another medical clinic. We stopped for mall sushi first though. The concept sounds strange but it was actually pretty good. Then we went to the other clinic and sat there for about half an hour. They then sent us to the emergency room.

We waited for three hours.

Nick and Sina were in one of the hospital rooms that had air conditioning.

Lea and I were in the E.R. waiting room…that didn’t.

At least we could talk to each other and watch Mr. & Mrs. Smith with no sound and Portuguese subtitles.

Every once and a while, Nick would come out and give us an update.

“Still waiting.”

Then he would return to the air-conditioned area.

Lea and I had to sit right next to the pediatric section of the E.R. and that was the saddest part of me.

All these sick babies and toddlers screaming and not being able to fully communicate with their parents broke my heart. We also saw elderly people being wheeled into the hospital.

“It all starts and ends here doesn’t it,” I said to Lea.

Those three hours passed so slowly.

“Alright, I can’t do this anymore. Something needs to happen.”

Right after I said that, Nick let us know that Sina was next to be seen. Lea and I discovered a tiny cafeteria across the parking lot and we got ice cream. As we were walking back, Nick came out of the E.R.

“She’s finished! I’m going to get the car!”


Sina was a great sport. She needed three stiches. The four of us were laughing in the car about what a crazy day it was. Even though Sina is Swiss and did not have her insurance card with her, three stiches only cost 65 euros. That may sound expensive but, one of the Portuguese guys we met later told us he got two stiches REMOVED in the States and it cost him $600.

America, our health care system is a joke.

Later, Romi and I walked down the cliffs to the beach bar and then went out to dinner and another small bar in the next village over with Julika, Nick, and their other friend.

I went to bed around two in the morning.