As someone who had lived the experience of a hospital on my own skin, this shows the inevitable evolution of health car under a communist system:
H/T: Vlad Tepes
OK, the hospitals I experienced were not quite this dilapidated – but well on the way there.
When my grandmother (1970’s) got breast cancer, it took 8 months for the surgery. There was no chemo for follow up because there were no chemo drugs. And the radiation machine in her local hospital was broken – and going to a hospital outside of your district was not permitted.
When her cancer had metastasized into her bones, pain killers where the only treatment option.
The problem was that my grandmother was over 60 – and with the rationing of drugs, people over sixty were the first ones to be denied medication. You know, like in the UK now.
So, my mother worked hard, bribed everyone she could, used her influence as a very popular teacher with all her students’ parents that she could, and managed to buy some pain meds on the black market which she then brought to my grandma’s doctor to administer to her, to ease the horrible pain.
Promptly, the doctor stole the meds and sold them on the black market…probably to someone else using their best connections to try to relieve pain of their loved one.
Of course, I had my own encounters…
From childhood, I suffered crippling migraine headaches. The doctors told my mom ‘unofficially’ that that is what it was, but that they were not permitted to diagnose or treat migraines because ‘the officials’ had ruled that ‘migraines are not a medical condition but something that pampered capitalist ladies with not enough to do pretend. to have to get attention’.
And then there was the first time I got appendicitis: I was admitted to a children’s ward, where there were 54 of us in one room. No visits on any children’s wards, because children might cry when the parents leave. We were fed in the middle of the room, in shifts, because only 8 could fit at the table at one time.
Having appendicitis, I was put on a strict diet of tea and toast, so as not to irritate my intestines. However, there was only 1 type of food served per meal – and the kitchen could not worry about all the special diets. I was laughed at when I questioned why I was being fed food that the doctors said I was not allowed…
After 3-4 days of strict bedrest (no books or anything), I got ‘walking status’ which meant I qualified for ‘play-room visits. 2 kids at a time were permitted there for 10 minutes per visit, 1 visit per day.
Oh, those were fun times!
Then I got appendicitis the second time. This time, (grade 5) I went to the emergency room at the children’s hospital. It was open Monday to Friday, 8 am to 12 noon. When I did not get in the first day, I got up extra early the next day and got there before they opened. Still did not make to be seen.
You see, when the doors opened and you got in, you would write down your name in the notebook in the middle of the room in the order in which you arrived. The nurse would come out, read and call out the next name on the list and cross it off. That way, first come, first serve – right?
Except that people who wanted their kids to be seen would stand by the door – and when the nurse would come out, they would give her a bribe to let their kid in. Then, on the way out, they’d cross their name off the list…
My mother did not want to pay a bribe, so, we waited, and waited, and waited.
Just before noon of the third day, I got sick and tired of this. OK, I may only have been a kid, but I was pretty sure that I would not make it in the next day… So, I elbowed my way to the door through the throng of adults – which elicited some very loud protests and shoves. The doctor herself came out to see what the hubub was all about. Of course, I did not know she was the doctor – and the head of pediatric surgery…
When she opened the door, I started shouting about the corrupt system – ok, I used smaller words, saying how people were cheating and they were doing nothing to stop it and really sick kids like I would die before they saw us.
Everyone hushed and stared – authorities were not used to getting yelled at – and especially not by a grubby little kid!!! The only sound to be heard were jaws hitting the ground…
Then the doctor spoke: “OK, little girl, you think you are so special – you are next!” And she dragged me in. The door closed behind me before my mother could make her way through the crowded room to me.
After the examination, the doctor got a serious look on her face and barked – “Her first!”
Not 30 minutes later, I was being operated on, because, apparently, my appendix was beyond burst – it was seriously decomposing and another 2-3 hours without surgery would have seen me dead.
They put me ‘under’ so fast, they did not get the dosage quite right and, trying hard to wake me up afterwards, they knocked 3 of my teeth out. Apparently it scared the other 5 kids in my 4-bed room. Yeah, the smaller ones had to double up in beds – that was common practice.
Funny story. About 6 months later, I had fallen and gotten some rocks and dirt stuck in the palm of my hand. I cleaned it as best I could, yet, it did get infected because I did not get it all. Still, usually, these things worked their way out, eventually. Yet, a few weeks later, a thin red line started spreading up my arm, so I knew to go back to the children’s emergency room again. Having been there before, my parents let me take the bus and go by myself.
Just as I got seated in the waiting room, the very same doctor was walking in to start her shift. She recognized me right away. “Oh, our little big-mouthed girl is back – come on in!” She had a dangerous smile on her face, even though I handed her a package of coffee I had bought with my allowance. (Coffee was one of the most common bribes, but it was usually ‘good’ coffee while as a kid, I could only get the cheap supermarket brand…) Or was that an amused smile?
One look at my hand, she took out a scalpel and got started.
OK – I was an ungrateful little big-mouthed girl. Yes, this doctor had, very literally, saved my life. But, she resented my bitching and was obviously asserting herself over me. So, I did the only thing a reasonable person would do…
I did not wince!
I did not gasp!
I gave absolutely no sign of experiencing pain, keeping my face a neutral, slightly smiling mask – even though the cold sweat was running down my back. Her expectant gaze changing to a look of surprise, and, eventually, respect, was very, very much worth it!!!
Yes, I was an obstinate little child….
Good thing I grew out of it!
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