Well… Here I am, after a couple of weeks – you thought I was going to give up on writing? Not happening. I have a sad story to tell this time – this one hits home big time after I’ve spent a whole week in Novi Sad’s hospital for children – not that the link matters to you too much since we like keeping things in our own alphabet, but oh well. If you’re planning on visiting, make sure to keep your kids healthy. I was not lucky enough.
Almost a month ago, my kiddo got some sort of urinary infection – not uncommon, right? We got prescribed antibiotics, but – surprise, surprise – a mistake has been made by his pediatrician, who prescribed a ridiculously small dosage for our chunkster. This would have been fine if his weight wasn’t in his chart. She didn’t take a look, she took an “educated” guess and went off to her perfect holiday destination a day after prescribing the medicine (consider that she also never examined the child during this time). So we’d been giving him the meds, thinking we’re treating it.
Alas, not only the bacteria never left, it became super-immune and moved on to his reproductive organs without us ever knowing, until it was almost too late. By the time the infection was visible on the outside, he was crying for a whole day (whereas his silly parents thought he was teething). The moment we caught it, we went straight to the hospital where he was immediately examined, diagnosed, admitted together with me, and had a surgery first thing in the morning. He almost lost his reproductive abilities at 4 months old due to a pediatrician not paying attention. Luckily, the surgeons did a fantastic job and treated the infection amazingly – and my child will be left with no consequences whatsoever.
So, what is it that I’m really complaining about when it comes to this amazing hospital that my child was pretty much saved in? Definitely not the surgeons and actual doctors – their professionalism was on point and I have nothing but good words to send their way.
Let me tell you about the actual hospital, the lower tier staff (and I don’t even regret saying it this way), the rules, habits and many other reasons to keep your kids healthy in this city.
- The language nurses used in front of me an hour before my child’s surgery. Early in the morning, a few of them came in to tell the others who were coming in what each patient in the room was being treated for. My kid’s testicles were super inflamed (that’s what we were THERE for!), and the moment I took his diaper to show the current condition as I was obliged to, one of the nurses gasped and said: “Dude, your balls are like…” (in Serbian). I viciously challenged her to finish that sentence. She realized she had crossed a big, fat line and hid behind her colleagues. The rudeness and lack of consideration for parent’s feelings were astounding!
- I did not have my own bed. I was offered a chair instead. Since I am not the patient of the hospital, I am not allowed to be assigned my own bed – I either had to sleep on a chair (which I did for one night, never again!) or was forced to bed-share, which is NOT safe in the tiny, uncomfortable cribs the kids are assigned. Luckily, we were safe that way, but I got almost no sleep and a lot of terrible back and leg pain.
- The crib I was assigned at one point was broken. The metal fence would not go up and I had to have someone next to the crib every time I was to use the restroom or wash a bottle or… do pretty much anything.
- I was not given a meal at any point. The meals were for the kids; the moment the server would see that the moms with babies are in the room, they would say “oh, just babies here, no food”. We were only given leftovers if other people refused to eat. Since I am a vegetarian, there was also no chance of getting a meal that fits my diet. So the breastfeeding moms had to either starve or have someone bring them food. Luckily, I had amazing support from my family who actually cooked. But what about the less fortunate?
- Moms only. My husband was not allowed to stay during the conversations with the doctors, during the night, and almost no out-of-visiting-hour visits were allowed. He could only come over in the evening so I could take a quick shower once a day. I mean, why would fathers matter anyway?
- No privacy. At first, I was put in a room with two teenagers. They were very considerate whenever I had to pump and feed my child and as uncomfortable the process was, I got used to it. The problem happened when three more guys their age were admitted to the same room with us. My child could not sleep because they were too loud and he was overtired, screaming all day. I had to pump milk in the hallway, hiding behind my husband, because the room was crowded with teenagers and their visitors. I had to have him come to the hospital twice in one evening to help me negotiate us moving to another room where the baby could get some sleep and I could have privacy – because I was refused twice until my husband came to be the bad guy.
- No toys. I had the nurses come in to our room multiple times to tell me I need to pack all my child’s toys away and that this is not a kindergarten. My 4-month old was there for 7 days, scared, in a foreign environment, and the only thing he wanted was his playgym and a couple of toys. Apparently, that was too much to have.
- No bath. There was no safe place for my child to take a bath in, so he just remained filthy for a week. Also, they used iodine during the surgery (day 1) and octenisept to clean the wound (day 7). Viktor had a chemical burn on his stomach due to chemicals mixing up, that is currently still peeling off as fragments on his skin.
You think this is bad? I saved the best for the end.
- NO FOOD FOR MY CHILD.
Yes, you read it right. So, here’s what happened: at the beginning of my stay, I asked to use the staff fridge to store milk since I pump exclusively. They were very nice about it and I was given no directions or rules whatsoever when it comes to it.
Seven days had gone by and we didn’t have a single issue, all of them knew those were my bottles.
One day, I brought fresh milk to that fridge (almost 0.5L, which is about 16 oz – don’t judge the overproducer, it’s a blessing and a curse) and 45 minutes after that I went to take a portion for Viktor’s meal, that was already 15min late.
To my great surprise, the bottles were sitting clean on the kitchen counter.
I was told that the fridge broke down and they threw away the milk under suspicion that it had gone bad.
Not a single nurse asked me if they could do it.
Not a single nurse has ever told me that I HAD TO mark my bottles – it hasn’t even crossed my sleep deprived mind that I should since I was the only one storing.
I was very angry and I said a lot of things.
To my even greater surprise, instead of an apology, they also said a lot of things to me.
I was verbally attacked by nurses (including the main ones for that shift), I was being judged for my parenting choices and private life decisions.
The worst thing was, my husband had to leave work to go home and bring frozen milk while Viktor was crying for about an hour. I had no milk for him since I JUST put the fresh milk into the fridge (I am not that much of an overproducer).
They thought it was my fault that he is hungry because they offered formula and to order milk from the milk bank, from another mom.
Now, as a medical staff, you should know that a child’s feeding regime should NOT change during a heavy antibiotics therapy. You should also know that my child could have a reaction from the meat components present in another non-vegetarian mother’s milk. (At one point, I was even offered to use the microwave to heat up milk – a great way to destroy the antibodies in breastmilk!)
After I threatened with media and my own job as a person with access to media, they immediately became 100% more and unnaturally nice to us. They never insulted me or my family again. Is that what I was forced to do?
Also, if the milk was actually spoiled… have you ever heard of soaps, lotions and milk baths I could use that for? Instead, they spilled the food without ever knocking on my door and asking if they could do it.
I hope I’ve convinced you to come to my country when you’re really healthy. Please, go home instead of using the services of our healthcare providers.