It was an important part of going in for surgery in an Israeli hospital, to write an honest post comparing the Australian and Israeli systems. Here’s my attempt.
Surgery is always going to be a nerve-racking experience for anyone. In line with Israel’s spectacularly bad customer service, my surgery and details were confirmed the day before my admission. I had been calling for weeks to find out what was happening and what I needed to do, nobody would answer their phone. I couldn’t prepare the kids properly, nor arrange babysitters well ahead of time. Thankfully I went in on Thursday for pre-admission tests, then returned on Sunday for surgery. Still, I would have liked to have known this earlier than the day before admission. Although, things are relaxed in Australia, I would have known well before what date my surgery was.
Those shambles aside, I arrived at the admission office ready to go for pre-admission the following morning. The receptionist was really annoyed that I was trying to pay by credit card and not all the payment would go through at once. ‘Why didn’t you arrange payments before coming?’ ‘because I only found out yesterday I was coming. I had no invoice or payment instructions. The Australian Embassy in Ramallah would like to write a cheque or transfer the money to you, would that be okay?’ ‘Yes, but we can’t take payments from a Palestinian bank account?’ ‘You mean to say, you don’t trust the Australian Embassy to pay you? Are you serious? It’s the Embassy!’ 2 hours of this silly back and forth banter, they finally would accept payment from the office in Tel Aviv that has an Israeli bank account. It was ludicrous and added tears and stress to something that didn’t need anymore fuel. During those two hours, my faith in the system had dwindled, and I started worrying about the level of care and skills of the doctors. Not a good situation. The sad thing about this situation is it gave me a taste of how the Palestinians are treated on a day-to-day basis, but probably much worse.
Thankfully, once I got past bureaucracy, I got up into my ward and met the nursing staff. They were so friendly and kind, I was immediately put at ease. The staff comprised of about 70% Israelis, 30 % Palestinians, which is always going to be a problem when the patient is Palestinian. Not that I assume all nursing staff are going to be pro-Israeli, that’s unfair to make that assumption, but it certainly is likely. I was grateful to be Australian at this point.
The rest of the pre-admission went really well, I was left in high spirits.
The actual surgery went really well. In fact, I like my specialist more than my one in Australia. He is pretty chilled out, actually listens to you and knows his stuff well.
The hospital stay was like any hospital stay. The food was horrific (far worse than the food in Australian hospitals). How does a piece of bread, a tub of cream cheese, an apple and sliced cucumber that looks like it has been sitting on my plate for a week, be called a meal?
Most of the nurses were brilliant. There was one pretty lazy, grumpy one who unfortunately was working for majority of my most painful day. What a relief when my other nurse came on shift. I just wanted to hug her. She listened and tried everything. My only frustration was, had they actually checked me to see why I was in so much pain, rather than just dismiss my pain as post op pain, they would have realised I had a blockage that could have been easily fixed. Instead I was left in this agony for a good 8hrs or so.
My other concern is after my surgery, a physio never came to visit me. It wasn’t till I got out of hospital and I did some Internet research that I should have been doing lung exercises and stomach exercises. I just realised from this, just how far advanced the Australian system is in post operative care. They certainly cross their t’s and dot their i’s. We are very lucky in Australia.
Whilst I feel the level of care is pretty good, Australia is better. The Israeli system still have a bit to learn, but at least my surgeon was great. I guess the most important thing to do in any medical system is to be prepared. Know your surgery, know what you need post operative to help you recover. I guess this way, you can use the system better. Next time, I’ll make sure I read up more on what I need to do post op so I can be asking for more information from the nurses if needed.