Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The death of Siderite's wife

Have you seen the movie "The Death of Mr. Lazarescu"? It is a Romanian movie about a guy that is taken from hospital to hospital in order to fix what seems to be a slow cerebral hemorrhage. Wonderful moment when, in the very end, the man is still living, but in a very bad state, and the movie ends. Because the title does say it all.

As a divine retribution for accusing the holidays of sucking, my wife had a car accident. Some female driver hit her while on the designated street crossing area. She is fine, thank you all, but for a clavicular fracture. This specific injury means that she can barely do anything by herself and I have to tend to her until the bone fuses together or she has surgery (I'll know for sure on Sunday, December 24th, when I take her to the hospital again).

Ok, back to mr. Lazarescu. As in the movie, the medical establishment is a dirty, underfunded, disorganised piece of crap. When I got the phone call, Maria was already at the hospital, waiting for treatment. The emergency hospital Floreasca was partially closed, due to reconstruction, and the only entrance was covered with signs that said "Access forbidden to visitors!". I was a visitor, but it was the only way in, so I phoned my wife and asked. I was supposed to enter through there.

I found her holding her right arm with her left, in obvious shock and pain, waiting... for what? She just had her radiography taken to her shoulder and they sent us to another section of the hospital. There they asked what has happened, and my wife explained that immediately after the hit she couldn't see well, and that she was afraid not to have a head injury. So they sent her back to the radiology room.
[small paranthesis] The woman doctor indicated we should go right, then right again, to where the rotating door is, in the middle of the wall. That was her female for first door on the right. There wasn't any revolving or rotating door anywhere![end paranthesis]
I was told to wait outside the radiology room until the male nurse would call us in. I waited, seeing three people appearing out of nowhere and entering in, before I got the nerve to ask the guy there "excuse me, is there a name calling, an order number system, or people just enter?". "People just enter", he replied apathetically. So I took Maria, pushed her in, to finally get her head scanned. All this time she held her injured arm with the other, no one even considered doing anything about it, even if we already had the radio image of the clavicular fracture.

Then we went back to the previous room where a doctor interpreted the scans, then sent us to another section, the one where they actually do something. We waited there as well, at least another half hour, in front of a door which said "we are in the middle of hospital reconstruction, we only have limited support, we prioritize people, do not enter, do not open the door, etc". Already knowing the drill, I opened the door and entered, taking Maria with me.

The actual fix was to make a figure 8 bandage around her shoulders, to keep the bones together. Then they sent us again to the radiology room, to see how well the doctor did, then we went back. All this was done without anestethic, even if it didn't hurt too much, and the only shot they gave her was an antitetanos shot for a little scratch on her leg.

You have to imagine this so called hospital, with rooms that had building materials in them and the whole facility smelling like a zoo. This is not a metaphor, I've recently been to the zoo, and the neglected reptile cages smell exactly how this hospital did. Maria reached the hospital at around 16:40 and we left at around 21:00, this being an «emergency» hospital.

The doctor also prescribed us some medicine, because they didn't actually have a farmacy there. So we had to take a cab, look for a farmacy, pay for the medicine, get back, take her home, etc. I then inquired on how will the insurance company (ING Bank, btw) cover this, since it wasn't her fault (it was determined by the police that it was the driver's fault) and we had to both miss work, pay for medicine, go to the hospital now and then by using a cab, etc. It appears that the insurance, which we dutifully payed for at least 3 years now, doesn't cover anything but the spitalization cost. No spitalization, no fucking insurance. More so, in order to take some sort of compensation from the driver, we must actively sue her, go through courts and so on.

Let me make a short synopsis: car accident, hospital, 4-5 hours spent for 3 X-rays, an antitetanos shot and a bandage, no insurance coverage. If my employers weren't good human beings (as most aren't) I would probably be forced to either neglect my wife or lose my job, and in order to somehow fix it, I should actively sue the driver and (without a job, maybe) go through courts, pay a lawyer, etc., which I don't really want to do anyway, since the driver didn't actually intend to hit my wife, she was just incredibly slow!

Did you like the movie? It's a nice holiday piece. Fuck!!!!

The funny thing is, Floreasca is actually one of the good hospitals. No doctor asked us for extra payment, each doctor or technician actually wanted to help, I am sure whatever they did, they did good work, but they do it in such a misguided, unfunded, disorganised matter. I mean, do I actually need to scan a bone, create a picture of it, carying it all around the hospital in order for another doctor to see it in the next room? It's like the middle ages in there!

There is this saying that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. None of the people involved in this story had any bad intentions, but we still got screwed!


Maria doesn't need surgery. Phew! We've changed the bandages to a more manageable type that is also adjustable in case it is too tight or too loose. We are going to the doctor's on January 2nd for another check. Then on the 3rd I am going to work X(. Anyway, I was going crazy sitting in the house all the time, helping Maria up and down, etc. (you have to appreciate me not going into the sordid details), so I guess it will be good.

Thank all the people that showed genuine concern over my wife's state and I hope you had better holidays than my own. ;)

Update 2:

X( We went to the doctor's again. It seems that the bones didn't fuse together and it mostly because the last bandage was too thick and thus ineffective. So Maria was right after all, she always is a good judge of character, that Petre doctor that made the bandage last time was all talk and nothing else.
More than that, it's not that she doesn't need surgery, is that after 4 weeks of observation we will know for sure. Doctors are certain it will heal, eventually, but the whole process gives me the creeps. I'll keep you posted here until she heals (or gets off my back! :) just kidding.)

Update 3:

Another visit to the hospital (with yet another doctor) was close to personal hell for me. The entire facility was packed with old sick people sitting in queues. This might not mean a hell of a lot to others, but I really hate these kinds of things. The only thing I hate more is being very hot. Sure enough, when we left from the radiology section to go to the actual doctor we reached and even more crowded room, which had the air conditioner turned to hot and with no open door or windows. Being very crowded, Maria went in and got out almost immediately. The x-ray looked better, the bones seemingly fusing. So the doctor send us home, told us to return in three weeks. Then we will know more. :-/ Well, at least there are some good news.

Earlier today I went to the family doctor (in Romania this is a doctor that is assigned to our family... and other thousands of others X( ) to ask for a medical break for Maria's work. I had to fought off sickly old people again in order to get to see the doctor, but after all I only had to take a paper in and return with another paper.
Of course, it wasn't going to be so easy. Apparently, the doc is supposed to give me a paper for the orthopedy department, they will give me the medical break letter. However, I need to take there yet another document to attest that Maria is hired somewhere. Why the hell would I need the papers for a medical break if she wasn't hired?! I say this while trying to ignore that if I weren't around Maria would have to make one trip to the work place to get this latest paper, then go to the family doctor to get that paper, go to orthopedy, etc.
Getting to the orthopedy department reserved a special surprise to me: it was going to open at 14:00 hours. Of course, it was 8:00 and I went there especially in order to find the family doctor who worked mornings and get to work immediately after. So that would have meant another trip for Maria.

Update 4:

Ok, last update on this post. Maria is now (1st of February 2007) ok. Her bandages are off, she is painfully using her hand and she goes to kineto and physio therapy. We had to pay around 50 euros to be able to do that now and not after a few weeks (with the other people waiting to get well, but without money) and, of course, that's not a sum that will be covered by the insurance. The medical insurance actually payed for nothing at all. Isn't that great? Fortunately, the driver agreed to pay us the medical expenses so we won't sue. We wouldn't have sued anyway, I think. Although for my avid readers I might have started a whole Romanian legal system series :)