The [Former] Blog Ian

Monday, October 17, 2005

Medical Care in a Foreign Land

Marysia emailed me recently with a tale of medical care in a foreign land. Fortunately, everything worked out okay and Ian and she are doing just fine now.

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We had a bit of an adventure yesterday. Everything is fine, let me say that to start, but I had my first experience with Polish health care.

Ian woke up with something stuck in his eye. It looked like a stick going from top to bottom. It wasn't moving, and I couldn't hold Ian and look at the same time. First I called 999, the number for medical help, but I couldn't explain to the woman on the phone what was the problem. A combination of my poor knowledge of medical language and her unwillingness try to say the same things in different language until I understood. Finally, I asked her if there was a place I could take him to be looked at. She told me a hospital all the way in Nowa Huta. [Editor's note: Nowa Huta is a suburb of Kraków that Stalin had built to house the workers of the Lenin Steelworks. It was intended to be the apotheosis of socialist urban planning. It also turned out to be a hotbed of anti-Soviet activity during the Solidarity era in the 1980s.]

I called Wala [Editor's note: Ian's Polish babysitter], who offered to come right over but I didn't want to inconveniece her. Her daughter said there was a medical facility right around the corner. But when I went there it wasn't there.

I got directions to the nearest emergency room, and took a cab there, but it turned out that hospital doesn't look at children. So I ended up having to take another cab to the hospital in Nowa Huta where they have a special division for eye problems.

Once I got there (all visitors to hospitals have to put plastic shoe covers on!) it didn't take long to see a nurse, who was able to look at Ian's eye while I held him. It turned out to be his eyelashes stuck to his eye! The eye was red and a little swollen, and sticky, she diagnosed, because he has pink eye again!

She gave me a prescription and sent us home without signing us in officially. She said it wouldn't be worth the paperwork involved to file with my insurance.

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Ian responded well to the medication and by the next day his eye was already looking much better.