Mama Called the Doctor …July 4, 2011 at 9:04 am | Posted in Lollipop, Transylvania | 21 Comments
Tags: Anxiety, Challenges, Children, Expats, Germs, Health Care, Medicine, Motherhood, Romania
… And the doctor said, “It might be scarlet fever.”
Then he said words like “family swabs,” “quarantine,” and “suppository,” and I kind of stopped listening. For self-preservation.
But now? I know what the normal Celsius body temperature is. 37 degrees. (You’re welcome.) I know that one of the tell-tale signs of scarlet fever is a tongue that looks like a strawberry. (Which we, thankfully, never got.) And I know that one sick child in 1,200 small square feet means that, at some point in the night, all three children will be awake.
There is not enough Nutella in Romania to quell this bone-aching, post-germy tiredness of mine. But with the exhaustion comes a small but fiery sense of pride. I did it. I cared for my children in a strange place with strange germs and a strange medical system.
I had at the ready a recommendation for a pediatrician another mother had given me. I called him. I called him. Not a nurse line, or an answering service, or a Minute Clinic. I actually called the doctor on his cell phone. I relayed Lollipop’s symptoms. He said he could be at our house in an hour. Yes, he came to our house. To our house. On a Friday night.
We talked, he examined her, and we talked some more. He wrote us a few prescriptions. He told us where the 24-hour pharmacy was. And he said to call any time, day or night, if we needed him. If anyone else got sick. If Lollipop got worse. If we had questions. And then he called me on Saturday to follow up.
In some ways, it seemed so much easier than the system I’m used to. (You know — call the office, leave a message, wait for a call back, figure out an appointment time, drag all three kids to the doctor, verify the insurance, pay the co-pay, wait around a while, talk to the doctor, get prescriptions, fill prescriptions, wait around a while, verify the insurance, pay the co-pay, and on and on.)
And in other ways, it was much more frightening. From the beginning of this adventure, I have worried most about not being able to care for my children here. Because of language barriers. Because of practices I don’t understand. Because of medical standards I can’t be sure of. Because there’s just so much I don’t know.
But in the throes of all this, I realized what I do know. I know how to take a temperature and dispense Tylenol. I know how to smooth sweaty hair from a hot forehead and rub tiny circles on a tiny back. I know when to relax the rules about ice cream consumption.
And I know that my instincts — to protect, to heal, to comfort — speak every language.
Have you ever experienced another country’s health care system? Ever called a doctor’s cell phone? Ever worried your child might be quarantined??