We’ve had our share of great luck travelling the world. We made it 3 years and 3 months into my son’s life before his first major accident. We’ve managed to get sultanas out of his nose, tacks out of his throat and dealt with more than our fair share of exploding poo scandals.
But this was enough to make my heart break.
We headed to Eilat to visit Petra, Jordan and after a tiring drive through the desert we stopped at our hostel that would be our home for the night. The Avara Hostel was not the nicest hostel we have stayed in, in fact the experience we had there was the toughest in a long time. The lady at the front desk was friendly enough letting us see the room before paying and we found it adequate. Nothing too special, but it had aircon and it’s own bathroom, with a communal kitchen.
The aircon went on immediately as we attempted to de-heat from our long drive. My kids started playing on the bunk bed and shortly after there was a crash and scream. The bunk bed had no rails and as my son attempted to climb down, clutching the mattress for support, the mattress slipped off the shiny wooden base, with nothing holding it in place, and came down on top of him - a drop of 1.8 metres onto a hard floor.
Josh was immediately checking all over his head, searching for any bumps or cuts. But it was evident after a while that he was holding his wrist not his head. We ventured out of our room searching for children’s panadol and some dinner to see if that will calm him down and hopefully help him get to sleep. He slept fitfully, but soon was wide awake and still not moving his hand. He didn’t complain about pain, but he was noticeably unhappy and we felt something was not right.
When we returned, a front desk staff member at the hostel asked Josh to wait while he continued his telephone conversation for another 10 minutes. Finally Josh interrupted and asked him for a doctor. All of a sudden the man was interested in serving and quickly phoned an English-speaking doctor for my husband to talk to. The doctor suspected a fracture and told us to take him to the nearest hospital ER and provided instructions on how to get there.
It was 8:30pm and we loaded our sleepy children into the car and drove to Yoseftal Medical Center, located 5 minutes away. We passed through a security check and entered the ER. There was no signage instructing where we should go, but a friendly man pointed to the other side of the large stark room where most of the people were waiting.
The bored-looking lady behind the counter looked at us, and before asking what the problem was, demanded “you pay now.” She wanted 1100NIS ($335 AUD) and then told us to sit. Two kids in a sterile white room, past their bedtime - it wasn’t pleasant. Big Brother Israel was playing on the flickering TV screen while nearby people sighed, moaned and coughed. It was quite a while before we were called in. A doctor speaking minimal English looked at my son’s arm and took his blood pressure while he screamed continuously, then sent us to the X-Ray department.
Caius was not in the mood for an x-ray and by now I was crying, as I had to forcefully hold his arm down for the doctor to get a picture of his wrist. After that she told me to return to the first doctor, who then told me to wait in the waiting room again.
Hours passed and it was close to 11pm before I finally requested to be seen again. It was a shorter wait before a second doctor asked us to come in. Again he asked what the problem was and we repeat the whole story and tell him an x-ray has already been done. He sent us to a room at the end of the hall and we waited again before yet another doctor came in, asking me to hold Caius and pulled out a cast. I had to ask him what he was doing for him to explain in broken English he believed there may be a fracture and Caius needs a cast. I asked if we could see the x-ray and he said no, that we couldn’t see anything on it anyway. That seemed highly unlikely.
My 3-year-old hates bandaids on the best of days and when he realised his whole arm was getting a full bandage he started to scream in protest – a blood curdling scream. It was unbelievably hard work to keep Caius still and the doctor was getting messy wet plaster all over Caius’ clothes and arm. Mia started to cry because I was crying and it was just a horrible, tiring emotional experience.
The doctor told us nothing during the process and then left the room while we waited there with our screaming son trying to calm him. Finally he returned half an hour later and said we can leave. I had to ask him for any instructions to look after the cast such as avoiding water, however I had some experience with my daughter’s leg fracture a few years back. Luckily I knew that, because he was not forthcoming with any information, and after several probing questions all he instructed us to do was visit an orthopaedic specialist in a week.
To have to go back to the hostel where that the accident occurred terrified me, but finally after 3 hours we returned back to our room just before midnight. Oh how I wanted to sue, but we decided against it. It was not a restful sleep. Josh took the top bunk to prevent anyone else falling off, I shared the larger bed with my very emotional son and we didn’t sleep well. There was a streak of light falling through a gap in the curtain onto the bed and I tried to move being careful not to squash my son and his newly-cast arm.
Caius woke all through the night and I pumped him with as much children’s panadol as allowed seeing we had not been prescribed any pain medication at the hospital. There was relief at 4am when Caius no longer wanted me and I swapped beds with my husband and they fell asleep together and I managed to get a few hours on the dreaded bunk.
The next day Caius was tired, but not complaining about any pain. He asked me repeatedly to take off the cast, to which I keep replying that I can’t. The new day seemed to have everyone in better spirits and we headed out to see Eilat.
We spoke to our doctor friend in Boston who believed it might be a fracture but would need to see what the x-ray looks like. Without being able to see it we decide to visit a doctor in Haifa on the 5th day instead of after the week as the original doctor suggested. He instructed us to return to the hospital to pickup a copy of the x-ray on a CD otherwise he would not be able to do anything for us.
It could not come soon enough for me and when we finally saw the Haifa orthopaedic specialist I was beyond relieved. He wanted another 900NIS ($274 AUD) to look at the x-ray and confirmed it was a torus fracture, similar to a compression fracture as Caius landed on his hand during the fall. He reported it was not too serious and by now I was crying again from relief. He cut the cast down below his elbow, saying the whole arm was unnecessary and told us to come back in 10 days after which he could take it off and the wrist would be healed.
Ten days later Caius was using his arm and the fingers easily. The cast fell down continually as the Haifa doctor never replaced the original, which I believe may have been slightly too large to cope with the initial swelling. Caius stopped complaining about any pain 2 or 3 days after the incident and only ever asked for me to take it off when he wanted to go swimming.
It broke my heart when he looked at me and said, “Mummy, you need to take it off now, I need to go swimming.” The few times we tried it was just torture for him trying to keep his arm from being submerged so we avoided all swimming activities in hot Israel.
It was a total of two weeks that Caius had his cast on. When we visited the Ortho he merely pulled the cast off his hand, asked about the pain and sent us on our way after paying another 500NIS ($150AUD).
Total bill - $759.00
Israeli skill - Sufficient.
Israeli care factor - Not much concern showed here.
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