Sunday, January 28, 2018

How to Dress Like a Modern Argentine

Well, if you were expecting all Argentinians to dress up as Gauchos, which are basically, Argentine cowboys, then you're in for a disappointment. When it comes to fashion, Argentines and Americans have more or less the same taste.
Someone recently asked me the question: "How do Argentinians dress?" I figured that the best thing I could do was to actually show you with photos. 
Keep in mind that there aren't a whole lot of close ups because there's nothing creepier than a total stranger taken photos of you when you're out in public.
Right now, it's summer time in Argentina. Remember that the seasons are reverse down here, so you can expect to see a lot of people wearing flip-flops and dressing very casual.
The temperatures can reach as high as over 40 degrees Celsius.

He could be an employee based on the business casual look, but the bookbag suggests he's a student

Blue jeans and white sneakers are pretty common at any age down here.
When the temperatures drop, you can expect to see people wearing jackets, just like everywhere else during cooler temperatures, and in this case, knee high leather boots.

For the most part, people tend to dress casual, but somewhat more conservative.

Hoodies are a common trend in Argentina, but you'll find a couple of leather jackets too in the winter.
Athletic wear is pretty much universal

I think the lady on the right caught on!
Until next time!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Here's What I Learned About Argentina's Health Care Protocols

On January 6th, just hours before my partner, Zach was supposed to go on a trip to Bolivar, I collapsed. There was virtually no warning. I felt a cramp in my stomach, jumped out of bed, and headed to the restroom. Then I felt intense pain in my stomach, and the next thing I knew, I was on the floor. There was a geyser of water splashing next to me, and Zach was screaming my name over and over.

I looked around and saw that the bathroom sink was destroyed, which was the reason for the water leakage. But even before I asked Zach what had happened, a couple of theories crossed my mind. Maybe a plane had fallen from the sky, or a stray bullet had ripped through the house and hit me. It wouldn't have surprised me. My neighborhood isn't exactly high class.
It turns out, I just lost consciousness and took the sink with me. I assumed it was my heart because in 2012, doctors had told me that there were signs of cardiomyopathy, but I never went back for a follow up because that was the year I transitioned from New York To Argentina.

My first thought was to call 911, except I wasn't sure what the equivalent of 911 was in Argentina. So, rather than fudge around with three digit codes, I called a cab to take me to a hospital.

For future reference, you're supposed to dial 107 for what they call a municipal ambulance, which will take you to a public hospital free of charge. But I've also been told that they take forever to get to you because there aren't enough ambulances. So yeah, I would never expect the 5 to 10-minute response time we have in the States.

I didn't want to risk waiting at the public hospital, because even in the emergency room, they take their sweet time to see their patients. Instead, I went to a private hospital and had to wait about an hour and a half before I was seen.

They did an EKG, which had me worried, but the physicians told me that I had a slight heart murmur, but that my loss of consciousness was not heart related. Just to be on the safe side, they made me go to the labs to have an arterial blood analysis. They took the blood straight from my wrist and it hurt like hell too. But the results showed that everything was okay with my heart.
So what was wrong with me? They told me I had suffered something called a syncope, which in layman's terms means I fainted. I know, I know. I'm not exactly proud of it myself, but there you have it. After talking to the doctors, they concluded that it might have been caused by my irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), and warned me that I should be careful because it could most likely happen again. So now, whenever I feel the slightest bit of discomfort, I sit, or lay down until it passes.

Zach did get to go to Bolivar with our friend, but he had to go a week later. He was nervous about leaving me on my own, and I'll admit, so was I. But a week has passed and I'm okay. I did, however, learn a few things about the health care protocols in Argentina, and some of them scared me a bit. But if you're wondering how much the EKG, arterial blood work, and consult cost me, it ran me about $10,000 Argentine Pesos, which is approximately $526 USD. The reason I had to pay out of pocket was because I went to a private hospital, which does charge. Then again, this was an emergency, and it was worth the cost.

Ironically, two days before my collapse, a friend in Argentina had passed away. She had gone to a public hospital on  the 24th of December. The doctors placed her in a medically induced coma to try to protect her higher brain functions. Unfortunately, her condition deteriorated. On January 4th, 2018, she had reached what they call a protocol and was disconnected from life support, and she passed away at 7 a.m. that day.

This raised some concerns. I was informed that once the protocol was met, a person on life support got their plug pulled. I thought that was horrible because that wouldn't be my first, or second choice. I would wait at least 6 months to a year before I would even consider something so extreme. Also, while she was still alive, I tried visiting her, and I was only allowed to go during visiting hours. I was also led to believe that this rule applied to everyone, including the family, which also sounded absolutely ridiculous.

So, I asked my friend Franco's mother, who is a doctor, about the protocol. My question was, if a loved one is on life support, can they pull the plug, even if the family member refuses?

Her response was that like any protocol, there were exceptions to the rules, and doctors always have to respect the patient's decision. If the patient is incapacitated, then the decision must be made by the spouse, or the closest family member. But, even in place of a strict protocol, the family can take legal actions to prevent the doctors from pulling the plug if they feel that their loved one has a chance.

Regarding the hospital visits, the spouse or family member always has priority. However, there may be issues because most patients aren't in private rooms. So, in situations, where the patient is surrounded by other male patients, the wife would not be allowed to sleep in the room with her husband. The same would apply if the patient was female and was surrounded by other female patients, the husband would not be allowed to stay with the patient overnight.

How is this different from the States? I've had to visit a sick friend's father when I was living in Orlando, Florida, and I was able to walk into his room at 10 p.m. completely announced, and there were no issues. The patient also had a private room, and the wife was allowed to stay with him overnight. Also, when Zach's grandfather was recovering from open heart surgery, his wife was allowed to stay there with him overnight as well.

Anyway, as you can see, 2018 started out a bit rough for me, but it also made me appreciate life a little more.  I've been in a funk for quite a while. Some of it is the result of being homesick, other reasons stem from the increased crime rate in my neighborhood, the crappy neighbors I have who dump things outside my home, the culture shock, and the fact that I don't leave my house nearly as often as I'd like. But mainly, I've felt this way because I feel a bit disconnected from my friends and family back home. I'm fortunate to have friends like Franco and Mel, who are like family to me, but a lot of other people I've met, or spoken with online are only interested in a limited conversation through social media, and that's it. So, naturally, I've been feeling a bit unwanted.

But you know what? Who gives a frak? I'm alive, and today is the official start of my vacation, and I intend to enjoy it to the fullest!

Monday, January 15, 2018

The End Of 2017 And The Beginning Of 2018

So, another year has come and gone, and we're still here, living abroad. Our friends and family are thousands of miles away, and sadly, the distance has forced a silent rift to grow even wider. But, we've made two Argentine friends, who have shown us surprising acts of kindness, like no one else here has. So naturally, they were on hand to celebrate four of my favorite holidays.
Whether we're preparing for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Or New Year, we always try to buy a few extra decorations. 
Alright, so I fudged up the mouth. Sue me! 
During Halloween, our friends Franco and Melisa came over for a ghoulish good time. This was the second Halloween we celebrated with them. Last year's Halloween was a bit fudged up because we had gotten robbed, but this year, we were in a more festive mood. 
For Thanksgiving, we hit a snag. Don't get me wrong, Zach and I did celebrate, but our friends were going through a breakup. We knew it would have been difficult for them to be in the same house together, and it would have been tough to choose who to invite. In fact, we couldn't, so we decided to just celebrate it on our own.
It was just the two of us, but we made the best of it. I helped Zach with the cooking, but I also had to work because my boss is Argentine, and they don't celebrate Thanksgiving here. So, I couldn't get the day off.  
Thanks to the power of digital streaming, we were able to watch The Macy's Thanksgiving Parade, albeit in the afternoon, instead of the morning, when it actually airs live back home. We also watched A Charlie Brown's Thanksgiving, which neither one of us had seen since we were kids. 
For Christmas, we decided we wanted to celebrate with our friends. In order to make this work, we celebrated Christmas Eve with one friend, and Christmas day with the other. 
On New Year's Eve, we celebrated on our own. Again, thanks to digital streaming, we were able to watch the ball drop in Time Square. At this time of the year, New York is two hours behind because of daylight savings time. So, we waited until 2 a.m., when the ball dropped to officially celebrate New Year 2018.
Then we celebrated with our friend, Franco on January 1st, and had a great time. The menu was a bit simpler because by this point, we were practically broke, and I wasn't scheduled to get paid until the middle of the week. But all in all, I'd say we did good. 
On January 5th, our friend, Melisa came over for a belated New Year's celebration. So, we ended 2017, and started 2018 on a good note, but on January 6th, something terrifying happened... 

To Be Continued...