So I am trying not to feel like a negligent mother, because AM’s strep throat began to be treated six days (as is 24 hours x 6) after he first had a fever. Part of it was me (and by me I mean me and Taxman), part of it is the system here.
When your kid shows fever and you spend a couple of days waiting for more symptoms? I think that is pretty much the way an experienced parent goes, or else you look like the crazy worrywart, which I’m not. In the US, sometimes after two days of fever I’d call the pediatrician’s office with a less verbal kid, because maybe said child isn’t telling me of a sore throat, an earache, etc. Kathy, the nurse, would inevitably say, “Why don’t you just come over now and we’ll check it out?” And it was always some virus. Even when it was some scary, my-kid-can’t-walk-and-needs-xrays scenario, it was still a virus. My children have had their share of childhood illness–coxsackie and flu and colds–but we are not on the path of repetitive ear infections or the strep throat merry-go-round.
So after two days of fever it was shabbat. Right after shabbat we got an appointment for Sunday morning. The pediatrician checked his ears and throat, listening to his lungs, checked for rashes, all the standard things. She said his throat was a little red, so she cultured him.
Here is where things went off the rails. The results should have been available on Monday, which is when I called and tried to wrangle with the Hebrew-speaking automated results line. I managed to correctly input his Israeli identity number and the number of the test. Then I heard “ain” something. “Ain” means “isn’t,” so I assumed the result was negative. Unfortunately, it could have meant anything, including that the results from the test were not in yet when I called and I should have called back later.
Here is my little digression about Israel vs. America, the land of rapid strep tests. Neither of my children had ever had strep throat, but we always had that result before we left the pediatrician’s office. Why Israel, one of the world’s technology leaders, cannot offer rapid strep tests, I am not really sure.
But on the other hand, this is a minor complaint. While AM spent an extra day in discomfort (because in America he wouldn’t have been seen until Monday) and our routines are now being disrupted for the seventh day in a row*, I don’t know that I would trade it. Because while America is the land of rapid strep tests, Israel is the land of universal health coverage.
I never forgot that we were in an extremely privileged position in the United States; our health benefits were very, very good, and not terribly expensive because Taxman worked for a large firm. We could “come right over” whenever Kathy said to, we had small co-pays, we had drug coverage, we got reimbursed 60% for private speech therapy.
Even in Israel, we are privileged. We pay more to our kupat-cholim (our health care/insurance system–there are four of them, you get to choose, each works with different doctors) for extra coverage, and then on top of that we have supplemental insurance (Taxman is all about the “what ifs” in life). But there is something nice in knowing that all citizens here have at least basic, low-cost (so low it’s affordable) access to care, access to medications and machines. It’s far from perfect, as there is only so much money and benefits to go around. I don’t know all the ins and outs of it–there are many–but so far I am not complaining.
I’m sorry that AM had to spend an extra day feeling sick, but I’m going to blame that on myself, not the system, nor the pediatrician who called yesterday evening to tell us to come over and pick up a prescription for him. He should already be on the mend.
* Check back next month for “Kate fails her ulpan exam because she lost an entire week of review for it.”