Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Hospital

A place of waiting.

It seems like Christmas really took the writing kick out of me. How irresponsible I've been! But let's let bygones be bygones, accept that January is always a "hit the ground running" kind of month, and boy, did I hit it.

I seemed to have hit it so hard that about two weeks ago, I was so excited to build a castle out of cardboard boxes with my afternoon class that I excitedly sliced a giant gash in my left hand with a boxcutter, with only about 30 minutes to quitting time. (Disappointing...)

My first reaction at seeing the inside of my body was, slap a hand on it! Stop the blood flow! I'm such a good first aid responder. But of course the second reaction was, PLEASE, oh please, don't let this require stitches. I've never been to the emergency room for stitches. The only time was actually in Taiwan, after my scooter accident. I had no idea how health care worked in this country, but going by the incredibly lax and...time consuming...procedures required by the government, I envisioned myself sitting in a giant Soviet waiting room, for hours and hours, wagging my bleeding hand at nurses who couldn't understand me.

My level headed co-teacher Zuzka broke the bad news. "You are going to the hospital." she said as she mopped the blood off the castle boxes (still hasn't been built!) and after someone shoved a few Skittles in my hand to calm me down, and getting a professional-looking butterfly bandage, I was driven to the largest hospital in Prague, Nemonice Krc. Effectively, this makes it the largest hospital in the Czech Republic. Very large.

If Czech is confusing in everyday words like "Good morning" (dobre rano) and "tomato" (rajcata), imagine the fabulous confusion of driving into this sprawling compound and having no idea what EMERGENCY ROOM looks like. It turns out all people needing immediate attention are required to drive, or walk, to the back of the hospital estate. I can't imagine how thrilling it would be to break a leg bone, take the bus to the hospital, and then have to hobble about half a mile to the ER.

And so, I entered into the world of health care without English. I have Czech healthcare, and so my total fees for services rendered totalled a whopping $1.50. Thrilling! If you're going to get cut, you might want to consider doing it here...

The hospital ward was entirely outdated, a sad shade a tan that was cracking at every edge, and the nurses were this kind of short, button-up shift that looks like an insane asylum dress. WITHOUT PANTS. It's cold here, I don't know how they do it.

It was in the moment that I sat down in the waiting chair that I felt very alone. I started to cry. The last thing I wanted to do was wait for 4 hours in this cold and moldy place. But what do you know, this is a place that apparently burns on efficiency and I was in and out in forty minutes, three stitches in the hand (and a lot of tears) later.
Just keep smiling, wherever you are, no matter what you did with a box cutter.

And today, after two more doctor's visits, I am proud to report that the old hand is unstitched and looking..a little freaky, but completely healthy. And I am happy to review Czech medical care as a little dingy, a little on the downside of fashion, but completely effective and cheap as chips.


1 comment:

  1. CPK...

    Glad to see you're storytelling once again.

    Having spent many an hour receiving stitches (and staples) over the years - sounds like you had a pretty decent experience. Seems that centralized government health care (while drab in design) is more than efficient and definitely affordable.

    Careful with that box cutter.