Thursday, April 08, 2010

Visiting the doctor, Israeli style

I've had a cough for a week so it was time to see a doctor. I have health insurance here for tourists, so I called up to make an appointment with the local clinic. There I encountered my first problem: recorded instructions in Hebrew. I got an appointment for the next day eventually (with some help from Amit).

I go into the clinic and report to the desk, where they give me a piece of paper and send me off. I sit down on a chair, a nurse comes and says "Are you seeing the nurse? Blood test?" I say no, I'm here to see the doctor. She says to sit next to the doctors door so he can see me and he will call me in.

So I go and sit next to the doctor's door, and he doesn't call anything. It seems the way to see the doctor is to push your way through the door. Open the door when he has a patient with him, retreat, but as soon as that door opens you jump up with your elderly charge and push into the room. An alternative tactic, performed by a religious lady with three kids, was to barricade the door entrance with her double pram and push her way in at every moment.

After 30 minutes I was really wishing that Israel had queues, lines, a doctor who went down a list of names, and people waited their turn, despite being older, more invalid or more religious than you, like in Australia or the UK. Lucky I had my book with me, to say the least.

With all this time passing I continued to sit there and ponder the fact that in Israel elderly people hire young female Filipino carers to look after them, so these old people and their carers can be seen on their daily walks hobling through the park (or being wheeled in their chairs), or being escorted through the doctor's door in a typical Israeli pushy way. In Australia old people go to nursing homes, or live with their children, and are generally not living in the middle of big cities. They hang out with other old people, and I must say I barely saw an old or invalid person in Canberra - like there were all hiding in the suburbs. Here old people are in your face, everywhere, very present. It actually makes me feel like Tel Aviv is more of a real place, with old people, babies, and everything in between.

Eventually the elderly, disabled, religous and crazy had gone ahead of me, I'd waited for 40 minutes, and I finally got in. The doctor started the meeting by saying "Why do you want to live here? People are so rude, I saw you sitting there but I didn't know it was you who are on my list, and all these rude people pushed in front of you! Why do you want to live here, you are educated, polite, well mannered. Israelis are so rude? Are you really going to stay?"

I laughed and said I was here because of my boyfriend, and that it will be much easier to push in when I understand Hebrew. I think he was still wondering why on earth I'd want to live here, rather than in Australia.

Result: He gave me some drugs for my cold, and they were free! And I'm going to learn how to be more pushy...

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