When someone breaks a bone, it’s important to get follow up x-rays to determine the healing process. These visits to the clinic tend to be straightforward; you walk in, give the front desk your doctor’s note, get the x-ray, and leave. However, at my six-week check-up, it was anything but a walk in the park…
Flashback (Two months ago): It was the perfect day to clean the windows at work. I’d borrowed the dry cleaner’s industrial ladders and had used them for my entire shift. Completing the task, I began folding the ladders. One side folded with no issues, while the other proved to be a challenge.
Planting my feet on either side of the ladder, I pulled with all my might until the latch released.
“Ah,” I sighed in relief, though the triumph was short-lived because once loose, the steps clattered towards the ground at breakneck speed.
The pain told me all I needed to know without looking at the scene; but, in less than a second, as the shock of the incident set in, I quickly removed my foot from under the rung and hobbled to the closest chair.
“Oh, no! Please, God, don’t let my toe be broken,” I prayed as I got an ice pack out the freezer and examined my injured toe.
Able to move it without severe pain, I assumed that I only had a bruise; nevertheless, seven hours later, the pain grew excruciating, and an x-ray confirmed my worst fear, I had broken my toe…
Present Day: The healing process was slow. For weeks I had to hobble around on crutches, unable to put my foot on the ground. Gradually, I gained the courage to start putting pressure on it, and at six weeks, my toe was feeling a lot better; but, was it healed?
It was a Monday when my mom and I drove to Hadera to get my last x-ray. Due to all the signs being in Hebrew, it took getting off at each floor to locate the x-ray station at the clinic; however, upon our arrival, we were told that the computers were down and there would be no x-rays that day.
“Can we go somewhere else? We’ve just driven all this way,” my mom asked.
“There’s nothing to be done,” the nurse replied.
“What about Hillel Yaffe street or the hospital?” Determined that we were not going home without an x-ray, my mom tried to think of all the possibilities.
“You can’t go to the hospital without a letter from the doctor,” the nurse stated.
“Is there a doctor in the building?” I jumped in.
Silent for a few moments, the nurse typed on her computer before looking up to direct us. “You have an appointment with the doctor, go downstairs to get a number.”
“Thank you,” I said before making my way back to the elevator.
“What just happened?” my mom asked, confused.
“We’re going to see the doctor and get a letter so we can go to the hospital to get the x-ray done. Nowhere else is open, and we don’t have time to come back this week. The hospital is on the way home anyway, so it’ll be quick.”
Oh, sweet, naive, Hannah…
The doctor spoke little English, so we did our best to explain through gestures and pointing. I’m not sure he fully understood what we were trying to say; honestly, he was probably desperate to get the weird English ladies out of his office, so he signed the letter and said goodbye.
The previous week, my mom had taken my nan to get a scan at the hospital, so she knew where to go. Dropping me off at Emergency, she told me to wait as she parked and grabbed the stray wheelchair, which would make our journey to the x-ray room quicker.
Putting her plan in motion, my mom drove away, and I was left to stand at the entrance of A&E. Feeling lost, I asked a woman holding gauze to her arm where I could get an x-ray. Explaining the way, I thanked her and proceeded to wait for my mom when the receptionist beckoned me forward, asking why I was there.
“I’ve come to get an x-ray,” I replied. “The machine was broken at the clinic, so they sent me here.”
Handing her the note, the receptionist read the doctor’s words before looking up, “You’re in the right place,” she said.
My pulse quickened, “What do you mean? This is emergency; I need to go to the x-ray room.”
“No, you need to be here. We have to get you a room.”
“What?!” Panic rose inside me. “But, I only need an x-ray.”
“Yes, but this is how we do it.”
“But, I have a letter from the doctor,” I stammered. “All I need is an x-ray,” I repeat, hoping that the receptionist had only misunderstood me.
“No, you have to get a room first.”
“What’s going on here?” Mamma bear walked through the door at that moment, her claws out and ready to pounce.
“They’re saying I have to be admitted,” I explained.
“But, she only needs an x-ray! We have a letter,” my mom’s voice rose.
“I understand that, but this is how we do things,” the receptionist responded, calmly.
“Welcome to Israel,” the woman who had given me directions spoke. “Looks like you’re going to be here a while.”
Glaring at the woman in a, Who are you? way, my mom returned her attention to the receptionist. “I’m not spending all night in A&E. My daughter needs an x-ray, we have the note, she doesn’t need to be admitted into Emergency. This isn’t a new injury.”
“I’m sorry, but that is how we do things.”
“How long is this going to take?” I asked.
The receptionist thought for a moment, “Everything should take an hour. You have to see the orthopedic specialist, and he has to send you to get an x-ray.”
“Oh, that could be good,” my mom’s voice lightened. “He can give you a new splint.”
“Okay, let’s do it,” I tried to say confidently. “We can always leave,” I hope.
Before I knew it, the receptionist had asked for my phone number and strapped a red band around my wrist.
What am I getting myself into?! I thought.
“Good luck,” the nosey woman said before disappearing.
Sitting in the waiting area, my mom and I were a bag of nerves. First of all, no one wants to be in the hospital during a pandemic, and secondly, this wasn’t an emergency, so we didn’t want to take up time better spent on more dire injuries.
When the door to the specialist’s office opened, I hopped in with my mom following in close pursuit.
“Shalom,” the nurse said as we entered.
“Hi. I’m not sure why I’m here. I’ve come for an x-ray, but they said I had to come here first,” I began.
“Yes. What’s happened?”
“Six weeks ago, I broke my toe, and now I have come to get a follow-up x-ray.”
“Did you come here when you broke your toe?”
“So, why are you here now?” the nurse asked, confused.
Reiterating our situation, it took a few minutes for her to understand our dilemma. Just then, a large man in a white coat entered the room. “Shalom,” he spoke before sitting at the desk and waiting for us to explain what we were doing in his room.
“I need an x-ray,” I said simply.
Looking at my wrapped up foot, he asked, “You’ve been here before?”
“No, but the doctor sent us here for a follow-up x-ray.”
“Wait, wait, wait; start at the beginning,” he said.
Once again, I told the story of how I had broken my toe and what had led to us being in the Emergency room.
“Okay, so let’s take a look,” the orthopedic doctor said as he rolled his chair closer.
Scared the nurse or doctor would try to rip the bandage off, I unwound the bandages and cotton wool I’d used to make the splint more comfortable myself. Taking my foot in his hands, the doctor examined my toe before pressing his finger to where the injury was.
Tensing, I braced for the pain, but it never came. That’s a good sign, I thought.
“Who put this on you?” The doctor asked as he looked at the splint I’d worn for the past month.
“The doctor at the night clinic I was sent to.”
Disapproving, he threw the splint in the trash. “Everyone has their own methods, but this is not how we would have done it.”
“But…” I stuttered. “I need that.” Reaching for the trash, I tried to locate my discarded splint, but it was nowhere to be seen. I felt the panic rise again. That splint had protected my toe for six weeks; without it, how was I going to keep it safe?
“Go and get an x-ray, then come back and we’ll have a look,” the doctor directed, not bothering to wrap my foot back in the bandage.
From leaving our house to ending up at the hospital, it had taken five hours to finally be directed into an x-ray room. Sighing in relief at our achieved mission, I sat still as the picture was taken.
One look at the x-ray and the doctor deemed my toe healed. He stated that I could walk and no longer needed crutches; however, the idea sounded absurd to my ears, “But, how do I walk?” I asked, seriously.
“As you normally would,” the doctor shrugged.
“It won’t hurt?”
Trusting the doctor, I tentatively placed my foot on the ground. The feeling was foreign, and my toes tingled as it felt the ground for the first time in so long. Thanking him for his time, my mom and I left the hospital feeling a bit shocked. We’d only gone there to have an x-ray, we weren’t expecting my splint to be thrown away and the crutches to be deemed unnecessary.
It had indeed been an adventure.
As we journeyed home, my mom and I laughed at what had taken place; how can one toe cause so much drama? Only in Israel.