Thursday, May 10, 2007

The saga continues

Julia's still sick. She suffers from a terrible case of gastroenteritis and yesterday morning her pediatrician said that if she couldn't drink 500ml of electrolyte water by 10 am, she would have to go to the hospital for hydration therapy. She couldn't and so off we went. We arrived at the hospital with a languishing 5 year old and the children's ward doctor said, "If she doesn't get a temporary Hungarian social number, he would charge us 300,000 forints (~$1,600.) for a liter of fluid and a bed for the day. He told us to go to the social security office and request an emergency number, so we went.

The office was busy and we waited patiently for an available window. When they finally helped us, we were told there is no such temporary card, but if we paid a half year up front (140,000 Ft. or $700) she would be issued a card, but just one moment while they call the director to speak with us. Zoli drives home to get the cash to pay the fee and we stay. The director comes out, starts speaking to me, asking for her passport. I hand it over and then she asks me what nationality she is, although in her hand is not only a passport, but 3 Hungarian documents all of which read "amerikai." She wants to know whether I have a job and then why I don't have a job. We fill out the paperwork and Zoli returns. Julia is half passed out on my lap, moaning the entire time. When we're about to pay, when the director, as an aside mentions that the benefits won't go into effect until June 1st. We ask about today: it's an emergency, we say, she has an admittance form stating that she needs hydration therapy. Sorry, the director says and turns to speak with the guard.

We flee. Zoli tries to call the pediatrician, then the pharmacy (which his wife owns) when he doesn't pick up; he explains the situation and asks if it is in fact an emergency because while we can technically pay the outrageous hospital fee, we would rather call the private hospital if we have time. Our tale pisses off the doctor to no end. He says that while it is strongly recommended, Julia can wait and he will see what he can do. In the meantime, just make her drink as much of anything as humanly possible.

An hour later he calls back; not only has he called the hospital director and had words, but he called the Health Ministry and filed a complaint. (Apparently you can legally deny healthcare to a adult foreigner, but NOT A CHILD.) He said that he would place the iv himself in our home and that he would be by that evening with his son (who is also a doctor).

They placed the iv*, gave us instructions, and told us to take turns sleeping while the other sat up making sure she didn't accidentally tear it out nor that the bag emptied. It was a long night. She's a completely different person today: still sick but she no longer appears to be knocking on death's door.

The funny (sad not haha) thing is that Zoli's sister is a director for the retirement branch of social security and after hearing our tale said that there while there is no such thing as a temporary card, there absolutely IS emergency activation. She was going to call this morning and have words with the director. Can't wait to hear that story.

(*OMG! can that kid scream when confronted with a needle!)


Kit said...

What a terrible time you've been having. I think I'd have been a gibbering wreck after all that. I hope she recovers quickly now - much better to be at home than in any hospital but I wish you could have waved a magic wand to have had that without all the trauma of dealing with bureaucracy.

LetterB said...

Oh my f-ing God. You have every ounce of my sympathy. Experiences like this make you realize that Kafka should actually be classified as non-fiction. So glad that she is on the mend. Jeszusz Maria.

Romi said...

Oh. My. God. All the best of luck and health to you and your little one. I hope she is up and healthy now! Take care.