Thursday, January 8, 2009

Rx in Turkey

Hmm… I guess it’s been a while since my last posting.

Blog entries came to a grinding halt last year because my child was hospitalized - four times. I know many people are able to “write through the pain” and continue to be creative while dealing with a difficult situation. They even use the writing to keep sane.

That would not be me.

My brain is like one the first desktops (I know - I’m dating myself) that could have only one application open at a time. If you wanted to work on the Small Child in a Foreign Hospital program, you had to first close the Creative Endeavors program.

ANYWAY, the child is fine. Back to 100% and in 5th gear. It’s a recurrent, albeit very fixable, problem. Hardly life-threatening. I’m throwing a couple of specialists at it with no answers yet. But the bright side? Fodder for the blog.

I have to say upfront that if you are going to go through something like this then Turkey is not a bad place to do it. The private hospital that now knows us so well is modern and spotless with English speaking physicians. The equipment is brand new and everything is computerized. When they take an x-ray, the x-ray is already on the doctor’s desktop by the time you walk back from the x-ray room to the doctor’s office. Only once did I have to wait more than three minutes in the emergency room.

(I can’t help compare it to our time in the Paris hospital - yes, we did this there too - although to be fair it’s more like comparing a public hospital vs. a private hospital than Turkey vs. France. And while I shouldn’t really complain because at the end of the day my child was cured with essentially the same course of treatment, the experience in Paris was distressing. I have been heard to mutter that I would get airlifted out of Paris before I’d go back to a French public hospital, but that’s uncharitable of me. They cured my son – it just wasn’t pleasant. And WHY was I at a public hospital instead of a private one in Paris, you ask? Because the Parisian private hospital only accepts pediatric emergencies Monday-Friday, 9AM – 5PM. Pediatric emergencies are literally turned away outside of those hours. Now I ask you, what child, ever, EVER has an emergency during those hours? No child. They have emergencies on Friday at 6PM, or Saturday on the soccer field or Sunday afternoon during the NFL playoffs. Never during the work week).

The first clue I had that this was not going to be a familiar medical experience is when just after we were admitted, a tall, gorgeous, elegant Turkish woman walked into our room and said to my son in beautiful English, “Hi, I’m your dietician. What would you like for dinner tonight?” My mouth dropped open. My sweet, oblivious son took it as completely normal that a hospital would cook to order and promptly starting reciting exactly what he wanted for dinner. He requested pesto pasta to start so I gently tried to steer him toward something a bit more Turkish. She showed up every day, twice a day, and made him whatever he wanted. And brought me a tray of the same. My other clues? Well, there was the beautiful cut-up fruit tray delivered at 10AM, the warm milk and cookies delivered at 9PM. The maid that made up my bed at 9:30 PM so I could sleep over. The roving bands of doctors that would stop by randomly and ask if there was anything I needed. The room service.

I’m sorry, did I mention this was a hospital, not a spa?

And now that we’ve done this in three different countries, I was comforted to see that the course of treatment was identical in each hospital, even down to the medicine and the dose.

But the bill?

Turkey – 5 days – $2,451.96
France – 4 days – $5,380.25
California – 4 days – over $27,000.

And really, the only proper reaction is to be grateful we have health insurance.

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