Monday, September 27, 2010

When we arrived at post, I wish we’d toured the hospital

***NOTE*** before anyone panics… this is not a new incident. No-one is in the hospital or even considering it (knock on wood). I had to say this, I’m sure, because I’m assuming that a title like this one could be equated to a phone call that starts off “Everyone is ok, buuuut… “  No. That’s not the case here.

Instead, this is a post for A Daring Adventure. She is hosting the State Department Blog Round-up this week and in a bid to make hosting the round-up easier, has introduced the concept of using a theme. All posts for her round-up will be those submitted by the writers, or readers, so get out there folks… read, write, submit, and host! I’m on the list to host, and, come on folks, if I think I can do it, those of you with a better mastery of the English language (you know, all that grammar and punctuation and whatnot?) you can do it too! I dare you… follow my act (Oct. 8th) and show me up! (oh wait… first, participate with me during my week to host, and this week with A Daring Adventure, THEN get all competitive, ok??)

The theme this week is "When I/we _________, I Wish I'd/We'd Known..." 

I didn’t think I had much to say about this topic, but after I thought about it more, an idea came to me. It seems that I must think that it is a very good idea because I have not been able to blog about anything else with this thought bumping around in my brain. That’s ok… a minor sacrifice for a good cause. My idea?

When we moved to post (Cairo specifically, but Amman too), I wish we’d toured the hospital.

I KNEW where the hospital nearest our home in Cairo was. I knew how to drive there. I knew the name of it and how to direct a taxi there. I knew where the entrance from the main road was. But I didn’t tour it. I wish I had… BEFORE going in to kiss my 3 year old daughter goodnight one night, late, as I was heading to bed, and found her seizing weakly, covered in vomit, and turning very, very blue.

I knew how to clear her airway and get her breathing better. I knew to call the embassy doctor asap. My husband and I woke our son and grabbed shoes because we knew we were the ones who were transporting our daughter to the hospital after midnight. We even knew the roads were ideal at this hour… not easy to say about Cairo traffic!

But I couldn’t picture where to go after I pulled off the main road. I had a friend to call, and I did, and he was very good about telling me to trust myself, I knew what to do… and I did, but I couldn’t picture where the ER door was. I didn’t know what was behind the ER (or any) door. Instead of an image of a known place to focus on, I had nothing but blankness and fear. We got there. I pulled around to the right place, my husband leapt out of the car, with Honor limp in his arms, and ran right to the ER, I parked the truck and Brian and I followed them in and found where we needed to be. Most importantly, we got our daughter treated and all is well now. BUT a tour of the hospital would have saved us from some unnecessary terror.

(Honor, just home from the hospital, admiring flowers sent to her by friends)


Honor did this to us twice. Seizing in the late of night, turning blue, ER trip, not regaining consciousness until the next day when she’d be PERFECTLY FINE thank you. Eventually we had a medevac, and long story short, after a few years on meds, she’s now off meds, and 100% perfectly healthy. But yea… you can imagine that it took me a long time to be able to sleep through the night again.

Brian (7yo at the time) also had us running to the hospital. He had a stomach ache that started out like a regular bug or something, but when the pain moved from his belly button area, to the lower right, I knew what was happening and got him to the clinic, then the hospital, right away. Apparently, kids getting appendicitis is not all that uncommon! My dad had his appendix out in China, Brian chose to have his removed next to the Nile. I was relieved that I knew what to do this time… I knew the hospital, knew the routine with the Embassy. By the time Brad go to us from work, Brian was already admitted and being cared for. We didn’t want this to happen, obviously, but it was much easier to deal with because we knew what was what.

Brad had his turn here in Amman. He was hospitalized for 10 days or so here, due to DVT. Amman health care took very good care of him. We had joked, on the way to this hospital, that at least this time it wasn’t one of the kids. We also joked (sort of) that the next time we PCS, as soon as our plane lands, we’ll hop into whatever transport is there to take us to our new home… and have the driver stop by the hospital on the way so we can give it a good look-see first thing, so no-one will be tempted to get sick and make us learn about it the hard way!

You never know when the unexpected is going to happen… that’s why it’s called unexpected. Same with emergencies. If we could know that an emergency was going to happen, we could plan in advance and be at the hospital when it did. But real life is not so nice. Touring your local hospital, especially if you live in a place where 911 does not work and the best ambulance is your own vehicle, is a must do.


A Daring Adventure said...

Oh my GOSH, Connie- what a harrowing blog post. I am SO glad you chose to write about this. It honestly never would have crossed my mind to become pre-emtively familiar with the hospital at a new post. How frightening!

Yes, we are super spoiled here in the US with 911 and ambulances. Thanks for the reminder that when we hit foreign soil, we may not still have those luxuries, and our family members' well-being is possibly at stake!

Connie said...

Unfortunately, touring the hospital is not usually on the top of the to-do list, as it is very easy to get overwhelmed with everything else you have to deal with when you move to a new post... it's easy to 'put it off until later'. I'd have less grey hair, I'm sure, if we'd learned this lesson earlier!

Emily said...

What a great point to bring up. I had not even thought about that. I guess it is important to keep in mind. In fact, I think I need to figure out where the ER is.
I have always just thought that we would go to the States if something happens. However, that is not always an option when the line is long.

Connie said...

Emily - going to a known clean, modern hospital outside your host country can be a very good option. It may sound elitist, but when I'm dealing with my kids' health, that's the way it is... I want the best! When Honor was medevac'ed, I insisted on coming back to the US, even if we had to pay, and not going to the UK, because my experience in the UK was that most doctors TOLD you what was what and that was the end. I wanted a doctor I could ask questions of and get real answers from.

But sometimes.. you do not have the time to go elsewhere, like when Honor was barely breathing, or you do not want to travel far if you can avoid it, as with Brian's appendix. They didn't even want us taking his across Cairo to a more modern hospital there. I wasn't worried about the actual surgical care in the one we were at, but it was old and run down and I was more concerned about infection while he was recovering! Medevac by plane was not an option for him.
Go find your ER, I know where ours is... and let's pray we never need to visit them ever again!

Becky said...

This is an awesome post Connie! We had to use the ER while in a-100 in VA and it took us forever to figure out where our insurance let us go, etc. We had to use one shortly after getting to our current post too. Even after all that, I had never considered touring/figuring out where the closest ER was. Such awesome advice!