I had a surreal evening last night. I always thought that once you got chicken pox, that was it; over and done with. The baby, though, has proven an exception to the rule and caught chicken pox for the second time in 3 months. This time around she had a very high fever and we wanted her to be checked over.
Thus, we had our first experience of an Israeli hospital dash, since making aliyah. We live on a yeshuv (settlement) and don’t have a car. In order to get to the nearest hospital we ended up calling an ambulance. We waited around 20 minutes with a baby who was worryingly hot; you could almost see steam coming from her. By the time the medics reached our house, her temperature had begun to go down a little. There followed a big debate; the driver warned us that taking the ambulance would incur a cost; ‘Do you really want to take her in? She looks OK to me’. He then told us to try to get a Dr to come out instead. We phoned up three local numbers; one didn’t reply, one went to answerphone and one was switched to fax. We decided we wanted her checked by a doctor, so eventually got in the ambulance.
Being a private ambulance, we had to disembark and switch to another ambulance so that the original one could stay in its service area. It struck me as odd that we had wasted around 40 minutes discussing whether to get into the ambulance, making calls, waiting for a rendezvous with another ambulance and finally switching over. It was hardly a streamlined service, operating with a sense of urgency!
The evening got yet stranger when I discovered that the girl volunteering with Magen David Adom, in the second ambulance, a lovely Australian here for a year, is related to a family we know from the UK.
We arrived at the hospital and the baby was checked over , diagnosed with chicken pox but finally given the all clear to return home. One of the paramedics from the ambulance hung around and told me that he lived near me and, if I waited for a few hours, would give me a lift home. Seeing as it was 3am in the morning, this was a great help and much appreciated.
Today she is a little brighter, although still burning up. Today I am quite a bit poorer thanks to the Israeli healthcare system. However, I guess in the end, the ambulance driver was right and next time I should only call the ambulance as an absolute last resort.