Sukkot in the ER

When we last met, I was injured at the bottom of a hill near Peduel. At this point I was pretty sure I would recover, so we went to our friends’ house in the community of Revava. I sat and nursed my wounds while others prepared the delicious dinner. During the meal, the wrist on the hand that I used to catch my fall began to throb. I once read that to avoid a broken wrist you should fold your arms when you fall, but I’m not sure that advice applies on a rocky mountain. Anyway, I could not move the wrist and it was so painful that we decided to go to the moked, the after-hours care center for our health fund.

After we dropped off the kids at home, the nurse at the moked put a serious-looking bandage on my leg wound, which had started bleeding again. The doctor printed out a referral to the emergency room for a wrist. So we went from a hilltop in Samaria to an urban hospital in one day. We saw the orthopedist almost immediately. My husband had insisted that I mention bumping my head, even though the bump was so small as not to be noticeable. She wrote that we needed a surgeon to look at it. When I questioned this she said they are not “choffefanim.” The best I can translate that is to say that they don’t do a half-assed job, even though I prefer not to use such language on my blog.

She sent me for the x-ray, examined the wound, ordered a tetanus shot, and gave me a prescription for three days of antibiotics and Optalgin. The nurse handed me two doses of antibiotics to hold me over until the morning, but I refused the Optalgin.

When the orthopedist examined my wrist she said, “Yatzat bezol,” which means that I got a bargain–I would probably escape without a cast. The x-ray came back clear, although the orthopedist warned me that it could flare up and a subsequent x-ray might show a crack.

The nurse wrapped up my arm, and another nurse, Ahmed, dressed the wound. The young, blond doctor complained to the nurse (or perhaps intern or medical student) about a patient scheduled for an operation. The operation was delayed because of a different operation. Instead of waiting patiently (no pun intended), he left for home. The previous operation got cancelled, and the hospital lost money because the operating room was ready and waiting for for the second patient.

The x-ray technician commented that Sukkot was the holiday of the “datiim,” or religious Jews, but he loves it. It’s true that because we tend to be busy on Friday and Shabbat, the week-long holiday is an ideal time to travel. Most Israelis seem to ignore Sukkot or leave the country.

When we first headed to the hospital I had imagined the benefits of a broken wrist: pity, no cooking or cleaning, and a chance to teach the kids a few more household skills. But all in all I was relieved by the diagnosis.

After I finished with the orthopedist I waited patiently for the surgeon. And waited, and waited, for almost an hour. Finally we asked the nurse what happened, and she had misplaced our file. And the doctor had been there all the time, chatting with a friend. But at that point he was treating someone else.

Finally the surgeon checked me out and explained that the health ministry requires anyone with a head injury to be under observation for six hours from the appearance at the hospital. But he also gave me the option of signing myself out, which I happily accepted despite the scary language of the form. He promised us me that if I came back, I would get a warm welcome.

I mentioned that I don’t bring my children to the emergency room every time they get a bump, even if it’s the size of a golfball. He admitted that he doesn’t either. “But you’re a doctor,” I pointed out, “although I have six children, so I guess I’m almost a doctor by now.” Okay, I’m not a doctor, but I still have a pretty good idea of when to bring my kids to the ER.

When we returned to the health fund to have the dressing changed on my leg, the nurse commented that with such a bandage she expected a bigger wound. I wanted to tell her how bad it had looked the night before, but instead I told my husband he could leave the line of forty people in the drugstore. I would skip the rest of the antibiotic.

My friend, a doctor, warned me that a wound on the calf can sometimes lead to an infection near the bone, but I seem to be out of danger. My wrist is still sore. So I guess someone else will have to chop the vegetables for Shabbat.