This little person had a not-very-happy run-in with a sidewalk today and ended up with a piece of something embedded in his chin (סַנְטֵר/santeir, which I kept saying over and over to myself on the way to the doctor so I wouldn’t accidentally say פְּסַנְתֵר/p’santeir, which is piano).
(Here’s the spiel I rehearsed silently all the way to the clinic: בני נפל מה”סקוטר” שלו בדרך הבייתה מגן וקיבל מכה על הסנטר.)
I don’t know if our experience was typical, but this incident happened just before 2:00 pm, and we were home, after having been seen by one doctor and at least three nurses, in two different health care locations, via public transit, by about quarter to 4:00.
Needless to say, though I’m sad he got beat up, I’m happy that this was one of those times when everything works.
Within about a minute of the accident, on a sidewalk on a main street, we were surrounded by a) a woman who gave me a whole package of baby wipes to clean him up with, b) a bunch of teenagers, girls and boys, offering water bottles and asking me if I wanted help to get him to the hospital (or an ambulance), c) a couple of cars pulled over asking if we needed a ride.
I almost accepted the offer of a ride, and perhaps should have, but as it turned out, the buses were working well and we didn’t have long to wait. Plus, bus transfers are good here for 90 minutes, regardless of how many stops you make, so we were able to get to both locations quickly on the same fare.
In fact, the only actual delay was when we arrived at the local kupat cholim, health clinic, to find that the nurses were still on “yeshiva” (literally, their “sit break” in the middle of the day). Fortunately, there were only 10 minutes left of that, and the woman with the number before us let us go first (a screaming kid will do that).
One slightly off-putting thing: arriving at the trauma area of the “mirpa’at” (local urgent-care centre) and being asked, up-front (after presenting GZ’s health card), to pay ₪23 for our visit. I assume this is a flat rate, as nobody had examined him. I don’t know if it’s a “child” rate or if it’s standard for everybody.
So here’s the thing: I know that is a very, very, VERY low price for the excellent medical attention he received immediately (we were in and out in under half an hour). In Canadian dollars, it’s less than $8. Maybe I’m just spoiled: this is the first time in my entire life that I have ever had to fork over money to receive care.
Then again, maybe I’m also a little scarred by a lifetime of raising children without ever having enough money to do the job exactly right. I keep wondering what they’d do if I didn’t have enough, if my bank card was declined, if, if, if… if we were in a situation where that ₪23 was a make-or-break. Seems unlikely (and as a parent, part of me wants to say “If you don’t have ₪23 to spare, don’t have kids!”), but I wonder.
On the other hand, maybe paying a little has helped me appreciate what we have here even more. When it was free, I never thought about the value of the services we received. But having paid ₪23, I cannot help thinking, “wow…” This is a country where you can barely buy a lightbulb for ₪23, or a big bag of chips (bear with me here – imagine a REALLY big bag of chips, and a huge colourful lightbulb).
For his part, however much I’d paid, GZ did not initially want to cooperate while the doctor stuck a needle in his face. He thought they’d have to poke right on the bleeding scrape, but even when I explained that it would not be right there, he squirmed and said no. The doctor walked out and said if he didn’t co-operate, the stitches would have to be done in a hospital under general anaesthesia (or so I gathered from the sign language of a mask-shaped hand the nurse put over her own mouth for illustration).
They kept saying to explain to him that it wouldn’t hurt after the initial sting, “like a mosquito,” that his chin would go to sleep. “Hisbarti! Hisbarti!” (I explained!) I said in my newly-perfected past-tense Hebrew. Finally, I told him it would be like the dentist, where he has always co-operated nicely. I also told him that, very often, when mommies took their children for stitches and there was a mall next door that had a kosher smoothie shop, they often felt like buying their child a smoothie with his own choice of fruit flavours. That worked.
I have no idea what kind of mosquito stings four times with a long injecting needle like the doctor did. GZ really did scream blue murder, and then the hard bit was done. Although GZ now claims he felt everything, he was very calm and in fact asked “what’s he doing now?” several times during the scraping and stitching – suggesting to me that he couldn’t feel a thing.
Four stitches later, the only little-bit dumb part was when we had to go into the Dr’s office to “receive the letter.” I went and sat and handed over the health card again and he gave us the letter and a few words of instruction, then continued typing. After I sat there for a few moments, awaiting further direction, the doctor said, “we’re done – you can go.” So we did.
My smoothie was strawberry-banana. GZ’s was strawberry-melon; his own creation, and he said it was delicious. The two small-sized smoothies, it has just occurred to me, cost ₪24, exactly ₪1 more than the doctor visit. I guess I really have very little to complain about.
And so I must end with a request that Hashem help all our life’s problems here in Israel be solved as easily, smoothly, inexpensively… and sweetly as today’s turned out to be.