Life in Poland Po prostu Chris POLISH CULTURE

Our first visit to the ER In Poland

Cartoon art of a walking syringe representing pandemic in Poland

Of all the things a parent is bound to experience with a child, we can check off an important one from Lizzie’s list – our first visit to the Emergency Room – ER in English and SOR in Polish which stands for Szpitalny Oddział Ratunkowy. I guess that just leaves our first grounding for staying out all night, our first visit to her dormitory at university, and our first visit to bail her out of jail. Something to look forward to.

It Really Hurts!

Ok, it is not as tragic as all that. Last Saturday night, Lizzie, who had been complaining of a stomach ache, got an incredibly high temperature and complained more and more that her stomach hurt. I asked her if anything else hurt, her ears or her throat or perhaps it hurt to go pee-pee. I tried to cover all the bases.

When I heard, “Mommy, it really hurts!” I knew that she was not kidding, and it could be something more serious. Our first reaction was to call a doctor or emergency services. We did both, and they were both in agreement – take Lizzie to the hospital because it could be an appendicitis. We thought that we’d be directed to an all-night doctor or be sent a home-visit, but ER it was. We were also asked if we wanted an ambulance. It was at night, and we knew that Misiu would be faster, so he drove her to the surgical ER as indicated by Emergency Services.

My baby

I cannot describe the feelings I had as I packed a little backpack for my baby (my almost 4-year-old baby) to go the ER and possibly stay at the hospital for an operation. Extra underpants, pajamas, a toothbrush, toothpaste, a plastic cup, a washcloth, a towel, one of her favorite books, her health book, and of course Maciek, her doll. Misiu quickly printed out his bank statement proving that we in fact pay our taxes and are insured. Polish hospitals declare that you have a week to provide them with proof that you are insured, but we know from our past experience that sometimes that is not the truth. It may have been Lizzie’s first time at the ER, but it wasn’t mine.

So brave

image And so they left for the hospital, my brave little Lizzie and braver Daddy, while I stayed at home with Rosie. Talk about ants in the pants (or maybe owsiki w gaciach), I couldn’t sit still. I was pacing around our apartment, talking to myself and checking the clock every 5 minutes. After an hour and 45 minutes, I sent Misiu a text message asking if he had any news. I also congratulated myself that I was able to wait an hour and 45 minutes without calling. Misiu answered that everything was ok and they would be coming home soon.

We don’t do that here

And so my brave duo came back home, but not until after visiting 2 hospitals and a 24-hour pharmacy. Why 2 hospitals? Well, for suspicion of appendicitis Lizzie was seen at a surgical ER. When the surgical ER figured it wasn’t surgical, they were done with her and sent her to the pediatric ER…on the other side of town. Thank goodness we had a car, but for those families who don’t and cannot afford a taxi, I wonder what they do with a sick child. Misiu packed Lizzie in the car and was off to the pediatric ER where they diagnosed her with severe tonsillitis – which you experienced parents probably already knew. They gave her something for her fever, waited for it to come down a bit and then sent her home with a prescription for antibiotics, a reassurance that tonsil infections can cause bad stomach pain in little creatures such as Lizzie, and a teddy bear sticker for the very brave patient.

Standard Procedure

imageCompared to our last ER visit (Misiu’s unfortunate pickle jar incident), Lizzie’s visit was quite good and for the doctors, I suppose, pretty routine. Lizzie did not have to wait in line, but she did have to go to 2 different hospitals. Lizzie’s stomach examination consisted of “macanie” (poking) and did not include any USG as I had expected. No urine was tested nor did they draw any blood.

Better Safe Than Sorry

Emergency services offered an ambulance right away and nobody treated us like over-anxious parents wasting the time and resources of the Polish health care system even though that is how we felt. The hospital doctors expressed a better safe than sorry attitude. We did not have to pay for the ER visit(s) and that consideration never entered our minds. With our child in pain, we didn’t think twice about whether we could afford an ER visit or an emergency surgery, and although I was pacing the apartment worried for the safety of my child, I wasn’t worried about the safety of my child and how I was going to pay for it.

Różnie Bywa

I know not every ER visit runs so smoothly. We have had 2 quite horrid experiences in SOR in the past, but all in all, I am glad that Lizzie made it home safe and sound.

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No Comments

  • Reply
    March 15, 2010 at 1:40 pm

    I can't imagine how scary it must have been. Glad to hear the system didn't fail you.

  • Reply
    March 15, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    That is great in Poland. I mean the health care, and hospitals (usually, thank goodness I never had to change my mind about it).. I still can use my mother insurance till I'm 26, I never had to wait in long line to hospital when I needed (nor my parents or grandma). Yes, we have NFZ that ruins that opinion, and I guess that many people didn't have luck and had to wait for the health care to be provided, but still I think that it's better, than getting sick in USA 😉

  • Reply
    March 15, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    I mean I have been mistreated and disappointed by the health care system in Poland in the past, so I guess they kind of owe me.Oh, the many posts I could write…

  • Reply
    kobieta pracujaca
    March 16, 2010 at 2:53 am

    Hi Chris! Your blog is really awesome! I love your humour 🙂 It's very interesting to read about Poland seen from a different perspective. Greetings from Toronto!

  • Reply
    March 16, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    I lived a scary and rich experience in Poland as well, coming from Buenos Aires to Poznan was quite a hard task. And now sun seems to bring Spring 🙂

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