Being caught in Budapest (Hungary) with sugar level of 21 - and "experiencing" the "welcome" of Hungarian medical service. I like try many things - but could miss this one. All I have to say: that was the time I did appreciate my American passport. :(( With only Hungarian one - I would not write now anything, being literally jailed in a hospital with jail-like treatment and jail-like conditions.
Follow-up follows. That was really something exotic. The question is where should I put all my experience. Next week will try to make photos, too.
Yes, indeed - at the moment it turns out you are a foreigner, you are the lucky one. As long as they think you are a local, they treat you like a peon. But even after realizing that I have a U.S. passport all I see is just some lipstick on the pig. Yeah, the pig will try to put even more lipstick and look more beautiful. Basically the locals are totally screwed. The "good" old commie health care system really never did function, but it's still largely in place and the habit of "money under the table" is very much there, too. So the old (still existing) system. - You "belong" like a slave to your "körzeti" (regional) doctor. You either go to his office if you feel sick or if you feel even more sick - you call him to come to your home. If he does, you usually expected to put ca.10 -20 in his pocket in an envelope. If you go to his office than usually not. - If the treatment is more what he can do, he will "assign" you to a hospital or clinic. You have ABSOLUTELY NO CHOICE where you going to be assigned. It is going to be according your address. - ... but in communism all people are equal, some are even more equal. So if you "happen to have a connection" in an other ho$$$$pital or clinic$$$$ - than they can "take over" or get you tran$$$$ferred to their area. What that "$$$$" means here is not - so - obvious. For my dad I sometimes called from the States doctors in the desired hospital or clinic - and a call from the "almighty" U.S. was usually enough. Who has no relatives in a major world power country (U.S. seem to be the best - but others may work, too) - has to have the "$$$$" for doctor's pocket. - Regardless, is someone transferred to the hospital or clinic of his wish by above "under-the-table" tricks or not, the stay in hospital is essentially the same: constantly "feeding" the minor personal with5 -10 -20 - etc. "little" envelopes in the pocket and the doctors with the envelopes having100 and up. For instance, the doctor of the daughter of my neighbor DEMANDED300 BRIBE for handling the birth of her child. Of course, the (still) pregnant mom was "feeding" the system for nine month already. - The conditions of most hospitals are very yucky, buildings are old, nearly everything you touch is disgusting and the entire set-up looks from both in and outside like a jail. Not much seem to be done since the Monarchy is no more. Needless to say, even entering the hospitals or clinics is depressing. If you are ill, it's even more depressing. This is the system how it used to be. The change since Hungary PRETEND to have nothing to do with the communism is really minor and for worse. There is a number (somewhat resembling SSN) generated uniquely to every Hungarian called "TAJ" (say: "TOAY" in English). If you have it and someone (your workplace, you, who-knows-who) pays into that account (usually ca.20 -200 / month, depending on salary, circumstances or what-not, not sure here) - than you are entitled to the "usual" "free" (see above how "free") medical service. Now if you don't have that number or you do - but no one pays into that account anything, that means, you have to pay... cash for everything. In the theory, you still have to go through the "usual" steps, but since you pay officially - you have the freedom of choice. The doctors won't expect you to bribe them - but since the small personal (nurses, janitors, etc.) don't know that you are a paying patient - they want the same bribe. ---- Escaping from the system: call the embassy. In my case I called the U.S. embassy. They have a list of clinics with doctors who got good feedback and quite a few of them have U.S. certifications. After about a day I can describe as a pure hell - I did. Yes, these doctors are not free. The clinic where mine works took70 for the first visit and every other visit will be40. That is done via credit card processing system, with invoice. Not a single Forint went into some "pocket". The clinic was full of expats. The walls look cheery, nice, new architecture and everyone was SMILING. Yes, what a surprise. During the entire visit I felt to be an equal human, was treated with courtesy and maximal attention, not like a peon or a slave. That's for now. More funny and not-so-funny details later. My advice: if you get sick in Hungary - don't behave the way the local doctors would think, you are a local. Having extra money won't hurt of course, but ask your embassy for the approved doctor list. Ah yes, one more thing. Hospitals have some sort of "rankings", according their "quality". The worst in Budapest said to be Szt. János (St. John) hospital. Of course - as my luck - we "belong" there. After few hours spent there I have to say: don't even come near to that slaughterhouse, the local rumors are true. My granddad died there, by the way few years ago - due simple lack of attention.
Glad you are still with us!
It's a clone situation, 100% like in Hungary. The bribes here can be higher tough. As for the diabetes - they basically tell you that you are a sick pig and going to be like that till you die. A good friend of my wife called us (she finished the medical university here and diabetes is her speciality). I made a mistake to criticize the system and the crappy doctors at János (St. John) hospital and compared them to the doctors at the clinics where the U.S. embassy sent me to. She is an extremely nice lady... but she exploded, her national pride being deeply hurt. Do I care about national pride if it's about doctors? But hey, I did let them know ahead of time, I have the choice, want to have the choice + second opinion and I want to be in hands of doctors whom I trust. Is that such a big offense? Apparently, in Hungary it is. Imagine that - I was talking to the head of the department, a professor who supposed to lead the diabetes care at János. He tries to scare the crap out of me (great job, what a loser strategy!) and convince me to go there. My questions: - Doctor, you know, I need a computer for the daily work. I understand, your department will try to stabilize my blood sugar level, but that means I will have ample of time to do my own stuff. What is the policy? - We have no computers for the patients. - I have my own laptop, that's what I mean. - (short silence) - my wife interrupting: "It probably will be stolen" - Yes, yes, don't bring your laptop, it probably will be stolen - (me) Wow... And how about Internet access? - (him) We have no internet access in the hospital - (me) Not even WiFi? - (him) What is WiFi? Now imagine a professor who does not know the word "WiFi". How many times is he traveling to conferences? How good are his technical skills? (OK, turned out, he did see "WiFi" already, but did not have much knowledge) What is VERY-VERY typical and scandalous. During THREE sessions (first during my first visit to our "regional" doctor, than to the emergency room than speaking with the said "professor") NO ONE, again NO ONE did try to measure my blood sugar (is that strip so expensive?), maybe prescribe some medicine, even suggest me to take basic aspirin (for heart malfunction prevention). Is aspirin that expensive? They did not even advised me of diet. Probably their advice is golden and costs that much. Well, that was because I did not pay them a SINGLE freakin Cent bribe and made it clear, they have to prove that I have to trust them. They told me by the way, they expect1000 -2000 (official way) since I have no "insurance". With the Hungarian "insurance" I would need to pay about that amount over several years - and as extra solve the usual byzantine web of "whom bribe for how much" Now - as we visited the clinic suggested by American consulate.... the very first thing I did notice was a large note on the wall: "WiFi corner". The nurses and the head(!) of the clinic made every test possible, prescribed the medicines and assured me, that I am not a sick pig, they will have complete control over the situation and went into great details. I followed what they said and the entire situation seem to stabilize in the 9 - 13 range, whereas 8 is the normal. I know that I have to be much more careful now than before and otherwise I don't feel depressed. I wonder, how depressing (and how beneficial for the blood sugar level) would be a two week stay at that Szt. János hospital.
>>> Glad you are still with us! Thanks for the wishes, Jessie. You can imagine any average American in my situation. I may have some accent - but we were California residents and naturalized Americans since eternity. We moved "back" to Hungary (I do speak perfectly Hungarian - but I am not a native Hungarian) back in 2008 for family reasons. All that insanity is 100% alien for me. All I need of course is just to wait till I am 65, than Medicare kicks in and with it the best private clinics in Hungary are welcoming me for free. Until that the job is not to become (more) ill.
Hi...let's keep this about health care experience and stray into the political. Thanks. G
I meant to say let keep this about health care experience and NOT stray into the political :)
>>> Hi...let's keep this about health care experience and stray into the political. Thanks. G Indeed - and since that unfortunate medical situation survived for so long and survived so many regimes -- politics probably does not even matter much. Something else does, not sure what. At least my numbers improved since last post, now firmly in 5.5 - 13.5 range, that would make doc happy I guess.