It is easy to lose perspective when one is privileged. I took three hours off work today to try and get niggling health issues looked up. Much v as I dreaded the idea of trying to negotiate the health system here I tried to set out purposefully with a can do attitude. That rapidly went down the pooper when the first doctor said they couldn’t c register me. The second, third and fourth were closed for inexplicably long holidays and the last said she had no idea where her colleague that makes the appointments is. I cursed my luck , decided to bite the bullet and head to the hospital.
Turns out just biting the proverbial bullet ain’t good enough. The orthopedic department only makes appointments by, what I could only understand to be a ‘mobile unit’ so they have no physical location and only answer the phone. Except when they don’t! Half an hour later I had someone on the other end who asked me to send an email which she would translate using Google and get back to me. To quote Tui, ‘yeah right’. The situation was saved by a kind, English understanding physiotherapist who did the needful and just when I thought I had an appointment for 3 weeks later she said I needed a GPs referral. Square frikkin one. I thanked her and decided to darn it all and prepared myself for a long wait at A&E. Turns out Austrian hospitals only have an A no E. The lady at the reception kept repeating the words ‘only for accident’ like a mantra and since I clearly didn’t qualify as an accident, I was out. But not before she gave me a list of all the GPs in Dornbirn and said the German equivalant of ‘go nuts’.
So five doctors later I was sitting on a ledge in the hospital foyer, having just been told that I really couldnt be treated. Excellent. As a last, desperate attempt I stared calling every GP listed. The ninth one said that I might stand a chance if I got to the other end of town within the hour. I did. And so did a thousand other people. Exhausted and in pain I didn’t care that the clinic looked a mess, that the tattooed lady taking patients’ blood may be the doctor herself or that people were coughing in my face. Amidst self pity and an air of ‘I’m too good for this’ ‘Why is God doing this to me’ and other such mental whiny rants, I happened to glance at a magazine the lady next to me was reading. Thee centre-fold was a striking image of people; men, women, children and the elderly with fear, exhaustion and trauma writ large on their faces. The German headline declared ‘something Gaza something’.
I thanked my stars, my God, my life.