BRAD     |     EMILLIE

Monday, May 16, 2011

Misadventures in Budapest


How many times does one toddler need to wee (pee) during a 2 hour flight? I guess the answer depends on whether the toddler in question is A) really bored; B) served an adult-sized beverage. If the answers to the above questions are both yes, then you will be taking that toddler to the tiny airplane toilet at least 4 times during the flight.

But to be fair, this particular blog is about what happened upon check-in to to our rental apartment. It fills me with such guilt of my own horrible distraction, rushing, but most certain responsibility for what occurred after we stepped out of the airport taxi that I felt the need to start with a light story just to clear the air for my confession. Of course, I could just have avoided the issue altogether... and not provided my shameful confession, but someone might have wondered why we didn't post any pictures of Nikolai while in Budapest.

So on this faithful day, during nap... Brad's at a conference, Claire and Jessica (my sister and her friend are joining us on this trip... hence the apartment rental. However, the apartment has worked out so well, that I'm thinking of traveling apartment-style more frequently... but again I procrastinate from the task at hand); Claire and Jessica are at the famous Budapest baths, and I am blogging.

Upon arrival to our apartment building, we carried our luggage into the building and to the elevator. Now, Nikolai is terribly afraid of elevators, and probably hasn't stepped foot in one in nearly 2 years. A funny peccadillo; however, he will ride in an elevator if he is carried, or riding in his buggy (stroller). So as we stood getting ready to go into the elevator, I unfolded the buggy so that Nikolai could ride up. And he jumped into the buggy just as I was locking it open. And (here comes the awful part) his finger got caught between the bar and the plastic latch. As you can imagine, awful howling ensued. But what you might not imagine is that getting the buggy to unlock and collapse (so as to free his finger) was very difficult, likely because of the tension his finger was creating. And while it took us only probably a few seconds to finally force the buggy to collapse, it felt like forever.

His finger came out very flat, but without any external bleeding (I guess he inherits my extra thick skin). Now Nikolai is particularly non-dramatic about injuries, but he was howling like a banshee. He howled as the hostess fetched ice, called 112 to find out what to do (FYI 112 is a Europe-wide 999, or 911, so if you're Irish, I recommend switching alliances), called us a cab. And he screamed the whole way to the hospital, he started to calm down in the waiting room, but that was likely due to exhaustion since he still was moaning painfully. He really didn't want to see the doctor, and he wouldn't spread his fingers out for the x-ray (forcing us to go back for seconds), but he did seem to calm down about 30 minutes after the accident occurred.

As some of you may know, I used to work at BC Children's hospital, so I have a pretty good idea of how things worked at THAT hospital. This hospital was definitely less polished then that, and was potentially built during the soviet era (it was that sort of institutional-functional style building). But the staff were amazing. We paid in cash for everything, and I would have to say it was a lot cheaper than if we'd had this accident in Ireland! (Perhaps we were sent to a low cost hospital, since our hostess was very concerned when we told her that we didn't have insurance?) Anyways, it was €30 for the consultation, and €30 for the x-rays!

We were triaged quickly (probably because of the minimal amount of waiting space and Nikolai's wailing -- I noticed that NONE of the Hungarian children were crying in the waiting room, despite obvious injuries) and sent to wait in what must have been the "broken bone clinic". The waiting space comprised a random assortment of benches and chairs. Despite being a children's hospital, there was no colour, and no distractions (TV, magazines, toys, anything). All the other children were there with a crew of siblings, and most of those kids were quiet and patient.

It was a very quiet waiting area... except for Nikolai of course.

Anyways, there was only one consult room with a team of 4 - 6 in it (one doctor thankfully spoke English), and they were treating about 2 patients at a time in the room (my RPG background in hospital design was reeling at the thought! Canadian doctors protest if they have to share offices, or dictation cubicles!). There were no bathrooms in the building (on future flights, I don't think we'll let Nikolai drink a whole airline beverage by himself!) and the x-ray room was just down the hall.

The most interesting thing was that we were required to take our x-rays (yes, actual, physical x-rays photographs) from the technician back to the doctor. Which means you have all the patients and their parents in the waiting room holding the x-ray photos up to the light, trying to guess if there's a fracture or not. When we returned to the doctor with our x-ray, he was about to invite us back into the room, when he changed his mind... basically because there was some kid who was in pretty bad shape on the table. We think he was in a dirt bike accident because he was covered in bandages.

We would have been in and out of the hospital in just over an hour, if it weren't for the need to get a second set of x-rays. In the end Nikolai was very lucky, and did not have a fracture. But given that he did have quite a bit of bruising, and a very unhappy nail, he has been wrapped up in a rather beefy bandage.

Anyways, on the whole, given my expertise as a healthcare planner, I would rate our hospital experience very highly. Sure, it was a no-frills kind of place. But it was affordable, fast, efficient, and I felt that we received a high quality of health care. Sometimes it feels as though doctors are more interested in maintaining their personal status as an expert than providing quality healthcare.

In discussing the detriments of the Canadian Healthcare system, I think everyone needs to re-evaluate what it is that we need from our healthcare system. All we need is for healthcare to be timely, and effective. Healthcare doesn't need to be:
- bogged down with bureaucracy
- at the cutting edge of technology (though I'm sure that there are many corporations that would disagree)
- provided by healthcare practitioners that care more about their own status and wealth than their patients well being.

Above is with Claire and Jessica on the Chain Bridge, and below is a close up of Nikolai's bandage (a few hours after it was done... getting a bit dirtier now. We're on a cruise up the Danube).

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