Friday, September 12, 2008

Don't mess with my baby...

Bring it on Germany...Your stares, your aloofness, your weiss bier that needs a special glass, your language..I can handle it.

But don't mess with my baby!

Baby Bird woke up with a 101 fever at 4am which then progressed throughout the day (even with Tylenol) to 103F or 40C. Since he is prone to ear infections and already had a cold all week and it was Friday, I decided it was time to visit an KinderArzt or pediatrician. But I am speaking ahead of myself.

I had already scoped out an KinderArzt ahead of time. An expat who lived in my apartment before had recommended a wonderful English-speaking pediatrician around the corner from my house. I was elated as I imagined train rides with very sick 2-year olds would probably not be an experience in Berlin I wanted to "enjoy."

I looked up her name and called. The line was busy and seemed busy on and off for almost 45 min. I don't know why I kept calling but I know in the states, my Dr's line would often be busy or I would have to wait on the phone for awhile.

But again, I should have taken this as a sign...

I finally called G in Berlin to ask for advice, get another pediatrician's name and just general moral expat mother support. She gave me good information and that if I wanted to just go there, they would have to see me.

I started to get ready when I decided right before I left to call one more time.

(This is all in German BTW) This time I got through. I explained the situation and she set up an appointment for me. She then asked me for my name and so I gave it to her. She suddenly stopped and asked if I was new. I told her yes (big mistake). She then told me they have no more room for other patients and that I can't come.

I thought I had prepared ahead of time by getting a recommendation of a Dr's name BEFORE we moved to Germany. I made sure I knew where the insurance card was at all time. Heck, I even found a small shot record I had put in the diaper bag before we left.

What I hadn't realized was that Doctors could be full and even the "best laid plans of mice and men can sometimes go awry."

Not only did the receptionist tell me that I couldn't come in, she was pretty condescending and didn't offer any other suggestions of what I could do but was impatient and annoyed. I am sure she had her reasons but I also had one big reason.

So I called the Scientist at the office blubbering the story. His office mates immediately sprang into action and offered to make appointments for us and gave us other names of great pediatricians but they were pretty far away.

I then called G in Berlin again and being the clear headed one (which she pretty much always is) she heard my concern in my voice (ok I was ready to break down at this point) and made an appt with her pediatrician!

So, I got off the phone and we watched some Thomas the Train. Then I noticed baby bird seemed more lethargic than usual. I took his temperature again and it was 103F!!!

At this point, 5 pm seemed very far away and I packed up our stuff and decided just to go sit in the Dr's office around the corner until they saw me or told me where else to go.

I went to the Dr's and as I was filling out my information, the nurse slyly asked if I had called earlier. I didn't answer.

The receptionist/nurse also got us in the room and I gave her my insurance card. She kept asking if I was on vacation and I said" Nein, Ich wohne hier." She asked me again and I told her again I live in Berlin. She finally sighed and told me the Dr speaks English and she would speak to me in English later to get my information.

The Dr came in, rather quickly, spoke English, was very nice but mostly business and to make a long story short, Baby Bird has a nasty case of bronchitis. He was also prescribed antibiotics and ibuprofen.

Why did they keep asking me if I was on vacation? My insurance card says "Reise" or Vacation Insurance in big bold letters. Now I am not sure at this point if the insurance company messed up and sent us the wrong insurance information OR we actually have trip insurance!! They are also getting a piece of me on Monday.

I am really disappointed in my experience today and it left a bad taste in my mouth. Is this the way foreigners are treated or are Germans having just as much trouble with their doctors? I even speak some German and understand almost all of what is usually said to me. At this point, I don't ever want to go back to that Doctor but she was obviously competent and is so close to my house that the convenience factor is important to me when i don't have a car.

Baby Bird seems a little better this morning although is still not sleeping through the night. The Scientist also told me when I asked him why he was being so weird on the phone that he thought his lab could hear me upset. Great-now I make uncooked brownies AND I cry when a receptionist yells at me.

I went to bed last night dreaming of returning to giant warehouses called Costco, my family and my former doctor and receptionists who always had friendly smiles for me...

For dinner, since I had not eaten all day, the Scientist brought back delicious donor kebab, Germany's most popular fast food. (For others reading-it is a gyro but with different spices and lots of crunchy red cabbage) Nothing like drowning your sorrows in pita bread!

Expats reading: how are your experiences with your Dr's?


C N Heidelberg said...

I've had good experiences with doctors/dentists. Out of 3, 2 were at least as friendly as the ones I had in the US. The 3rd was more businesslike, but still fine. People at the offices have been mostly fine, with just a couple of instances where I'm sure they were rolling their eyes at the stupid foreigner as soon as I left the room.
However, this is in Heidelberg. The south is known for being more friendly than the north, and HD is a very international town that is used to dealing with a high proportion of foreigners.

Andrea said...

I hope the little guy is better soon!
We are on our third english speaking doctor here (because we don't speak German). And I have to say, she may not be the nicest doctor we've found here (no where as nice as our US doc was - even one I saw while on vacation in the US) but it's the best we have. Her staff is rude beyond belief and several times even with an appointment we've given up and just left after waiting over an hour to be seen. Because of the language issue I don't much choice but to continue to see this doctor.
Having been through three hospital visits with my Boo with another ped here (two visits for overnight and plus 2 day stays) be VERY thankful if you can get through your time here without being admitted to a hospital!!!

tessa said...

I've been lucky enough to always have my German with me. I'm sure I would be treated a lot worse without him there.

We have been turned down quite often by doctors' offices because they are full. We luckily haven't had any emergencies where we didn't have time to call beforehand and make an appointment.

And some of the specialist doctors have ridiculous waiting lists to get an appointment. Everyone is rushing to get an appointment during the certain months where they have already paid their fee, so they don't have to again.

I've also noticed that appointments don't really seem to mean anything here. You make an appointment but you can still wait hours to see someone.

Hope the little guy feels better soon.

planetgermany said...

Hope junior is feeling better now!

I've got a wonderful kids' doctor - who is also English speaking. In fact my oldest daughter (who is nearly 17) is resisting moving from the Kinderärtzin because she wants to stay with the nice lady and not move to some "boring grown ups' doctor".

You will probably need to sort out a proper German Krankenversicherung (Health Insurance) though. Otherwise no doctor will take you onto their books.

Diane Mandy said...

I hope the little one is feeling better and I am sorry your experience was a bad one.

My only experience has been with my new OB/GYN. He's German, speaks some English, and has been absolutely wonderful. I've been so impressed with medical care here as a result.

I hope things turn around for you. Nothing more important than being happy with your baby's doctor.

arturgreensward said...

Here in Belgium I can't complain too much, other than the over
prescription of antibiotics and suggestions regarding homeopathy that I could do without.

jen said...

Now this gets into a dicey sort of territory, but I have found that once a doctor's office finds out I have private health insurance rather than regular insurance(gesetzliche krankenkasse), doors and smiles open right up for me.

I was told I had to wait 2 months for an ear doctor appointment until I gave them my insurance information. They saw me that day and even apologized for "the mix-up".

For me, the second key to phenomenal health care here, even better than the US, was finding one really great Doctor. From there, I begged for referrals which most doctors don't do for some odd reason. I always get a whispered name and whose phone number I must look up.

I have had a couple of really, really bad experiences here, but those have been shadowed by the exceptional care I've been given. And I have had A LOT of medical needs since moving here.

Yelli said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. Bode is getting better and the antibiotics seemed to have helped very quickly!

I was so tired and scared when I wrote this! Baby Bird was so lethargic and had such a high fever.

I am glad that most of you have had good experiences. Guess I just have to get in there and find that Dr. that fits us!