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If You Get Sick on a Sunday

By Mazz Sackson

It is true that for many people, Sunday is considered a day for relaxation. But only for people. Parasites and infections do not adhere to this day of rest. If you find yourself camped out in the bathroom expelling your insides on a Sunday, it may become necessary to take a more creative approach to seeking medical attention.

One approach that will not get you instant medical attention is collapsing in Parque Central face down in a pool of your own vomit. This is apparently such a common occurrence in these parts that not only will it not find you a place in a hospital bed or even a doctor’s waiting room chair, but unfortunately it will not even result in an eyelid batted or a hoist back onto your feet.

If you can manage to stay upright, shaking with the cold caused by the fever you are experiencing, some nice lady will inevitably round on you, equipped with a handful of colorful scarves which are “muy barrato” and will keep you warm as you crawl to the nearest public toilet. My medical research in Guatemala has led me to believe that these women are actually emergency nurses, trained to provide fresh linens and stop you from slipping into an unconscious state by keeping you alert with banter about how your mother, brother, boyfriend, cousin and their dog would all enjoy a “bonita chalina.”

If you manage to find yourself seated in the only facility open on a Sunday (which apparently does not specialize in whatever could possibly be wrong with you), you will be seen, as long as you have brought your wallet with you. Accept the sample cup that is at least half the size of the ones in the first world. When you are handed a solitary piece of toilet paper and sent on your way, remind yourself that this is, after all, not what this centre specializes in. When there is no soap provided in the bathroom, it’s natural to wonder if the centre is a health facility at all.

On the way home, you nearly trip over a man passed out on the sidewalk, and you think, “Should I help this guy get to a doctor?” But then you recall that it’s Sunday so doctors are scarce, and you assuage your conscience by at least covering the poor guy with a bonita chalina.

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