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 embarrassments.
But this was enough to make my heartbreak.
After a few weeks travelling around Israel, we headed to Eilat for a night before our visit to Petra, Jordan. After a tiring drive through the desert, we stopped at a hostel 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.
The aircon went on immediately as we attempted to cool off after our long drive. My kids started playing on the bunk bed and shortly after there was a thud, followed by a very high pitched scream. My movements were not quick enough to catch my 3-year-old son as he toppled off the top bunk 1.8 metres to the hard floor. 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 it all came down on top of him.
While I worried about his head, it soon became evident 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 would calm my sobbing boy 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 I felt something was not right.
When we returned to the hostel, a front desk staff member at the hostel asked us to wait while he continued his telephone conversation for another 10 minutes. Angrily I interrupted and asked him for a doctor. All of a sudden he was interested in serving and quickly phoned an English-speaking doctor for me to talk to. The doctor suspected a fracture and told me to take him to the nearest hospital ER.
I loaded our sleepy children into the car at 8:30 pm and drove to Yoseftal Medical Center, 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 commanded us to sit. Two kids in a sterile white room, past their bedtime, is not pleasant. Big Brother Israel was playing on the flickering TV screen while nearby people sighed, moaned and coughed. As typical in most ER’s it was some time 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. My son in pain was more than my heart could bear and since I had to forcefully hold his arm down for the doctor to get a picture of his wrist, I felt partially responsible for his pain. After that, we were sent back to the waiting room again.
Hours passed and it was close to 11 pm before I requested to be seen again. More waiting before the second doctor asked us to come in. Again he asked what the problem was and we repeated the whole story and let him know an x-ray had 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 needed 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. My daughter started to cry because I was crying and it was just a horrible, tiring emotional experience. My mother heartstrings pulled tautly and played out over and over again, like a record at the end of its life scratched and bent.
The doctor told me nothing during the process and then left the room while we waited there with my screaming son trying to calm him. Half an hour later he returned and told us we could leave. Having had some experience with my daughter’s leg fracture a few years back I didn’t bother asking any questions and he didn’t bother informing me about how to care for the cast.
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. It was not a restful sleep. 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 to be 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.
The next day Caius was tired, but not complaining about any pain. He asked me repeatedly to take off the cast, to which I kept replying rather emotionally that I couldn’t.
Still unsure of what happened I spoke to my 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 decided 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 pick up 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 orthopedic specialist I was beyond relieved. Another 900NIS ($274 AUD) was handed over for him to look at the x-ray and confirm it was a torus fracture, similar to a compression fracture as Caius landed on his hand during the fall. Th Doctor 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. As you can imagine the Israeli summer was hot!
Every day it broke my heart, especially when he looked at me with big eyes 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 AUD
Israeli skill – Sufficient.
Travel Insurance – Worth it. Thank God I was fully covered by Travel Insurance Direct. I never travel without travel insurance. Not ever!
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