"Stop Crying!" My Experience with the Israeli Healthcare System

I found myself totally disoriented, knocking on my roommates door at 6:30a.m.and then barging in, telling her I needed help. I have no idea how I got there, how I found myself on the floor outside my bedroom, blood gushing from my chin where I had banged it, my knees and wrist throbbing from hitting the wood floor. I can’t tell you what inner voice or strength had me pull myself up and go searching for the help I somehow knew I needed.
It started as a regular Monday morning and ended after a 13+ hour experience of literally running through every single emotion I can think of. It was a total rollercoaster- I was cracking jokes with my friend who also recently made aliya and stayed with me for 8 hours in the ER, advocated on my behalf and generally sympathized with the fact that this was NOT THE UNITED STATES. I sat sobbing in the ER waiting room, after waiting for 2 hours and being totally shut down by the intake worker who told me I could not have any pain medicine. I felt so grateful for the empathy, words of support and being checked in on by my wonderful network of people here, and my incredible sister who traveled from Haifa to stay with me overnight. I was angry about the fact that my body was throbbing and yet there was no ice or ice packs. And I was really taken aback by the doctor in Terem, who basically yelled at me in Hebrew and said “Why are you crying? Stop crying! This is not the end of the world! You just fell!” He didn’t seem to understand that navigating a system in a language you don’t know, what feels like a million miles away from your family, after having arrived in a new country 3 weeks ago and feeling scared and shaken up and in pain might be a little upsetting!
Almost everyone in this country has to serve, in someway, in the Israeli army. But it seemed to me that many don’t leave the war mentality in the field, but rather bring it into their every day interactions. Despite the fact that I encountered many people who worked in the healthcare profession yesterday, I found them mostly to be combative and on the defense. I came up against resistance, hardness, harsh words and a general sense of “buck up”. These people have been in war, and it’s not like I’m missing a limb or got hit by a grenade or am under physical attack.
Despite the criticisms and challenges I present here, I will also say that I was shown unbelievable kindness by people who did not have to be nice to me. The doctor and PA I saw at the hospital took the time to listen to me, do a thorough checkup, and even gave me their phone numbers and explained the system a bit better to me and my friend. The woman who sits next to me in ulpan texted me all day to check in. A friend of a friend who is now at Harvard but is Israeli and worked in the ER in Israel called me from the US to talk to me about my medical situation.
I consider myself to be an extremely strong and resilient person, but Israel has for sure pushed me to my limits. I see my soft edges becoming harder, I find that I am being pushed way farther and harder than I push myself. I refuse to let Israel turn me hard, although I will definitely allow it to influence me in terms of increasing my kindness to strangers, opening to more compassion and non-violent communication.
May we all be blessed with patience, a loving support system and an abundance of health in our daily lives.*
*Footnote: They don’t know why I passed out, but all tests came back negative and I am feeling better already. See? You don’t even know me and you care. :D