From the neck down my body was encased in a metal tube. Behind me were all sorts of controls. Above me was the sound of grinding. Despite the noise I could not put my hands over my ears. I couldn’t even scratch my nose. For I’d been told that even the slightest movement was forbidden. No, I was not held captive by some sadist. Nor was I a bit player in a science–fiction movie. Rather, I was submitting to torture so my doctor could diagnose the lump in my thumb.
For more than thirty minutes I was held captive as the technicians administrated an MRI. And then it was over. I could wiggle. I could talk. I could eat and drink. What a relief to have the test behind me. It was even more of a relief to find out my growth was benign. And it had cost me only several hours of travelling time and a measly thirty-three shekels* to have the test that gave me peace of mind.
When I first moved with my family to Israel in the eighties I was apprehensive about the medical system. In fact, if my memory serves me correctly, we took out a special insurance policy just in case we wanted to return to America for health care.
The first time one of my children had a minor operation I was sorry we hadn’t used that policy. Instead we checked into a hospital that was built in the time of the Ottoman Empire. It seemed as if we’d entered a time machine and found ourselves living a century earlier. There was no air-conditioning and we were in the middle of an August heat wave. Patients were placed in large wards with a dozen or so beds. After my son finished his surgery he was brought directly to me. I was given gauze and a pain suppository and told to take care of him myself.
Thankfully the surgery went smoothly without any complications. In fact, had we been in America we’d have gone home a couple of hours later. This hospital’s policy, though, was that the child had to sleep overnight and one parent had to be with him. Sadly, no facilities were provided for parents but I was fortunate. My son was small enough that we could both fit into the bed together. However, between the heat and the moans and cries of the other children we got very little sleep. What a relief it was to check out of the hospital the following morning and go home.
I really can’t remember why we agreed to have the next child’s surgery in Israel. Maybe we no longer had the policy. It could be that the operation had to be done at a time it was too hard to get away. Perhaps the doctor convinced us that going to Hadassah Hospital would be a far more positive experience. It was. Not only did my child get good care, we also got a chair that made into a bed at night. And the food was delicious.
As time went on health care in Israel improved and improved. People leaving the country for surgery is becoming rarer and at the same time there are more and more patients from western Europe coming to Israel for medical procedures. Probably their private insurance covers their needs here because, just like everywhere, health needs aren’t cheap. That thirty-three shekels I paid for the MRI is just a fraction of the procedure’s cost. Yet, for me it was all covered by the one hundred and eighty shekel monthly fee I pay into one of our country’s health plans. I’m so grateful that I can live in the Holy Land, not have to travel anywhere, and still receive good, affordable medical care. What a blessing!
*There are approximately three and a half shekels to the dollar.
|MRI machine courtesy of Skynews|