The four of us moved down here to San Diego three weeks (to the day) after Sophia was born. Things weren't going fantastic with the little one by the time we left, but the timing worked well for my employer and this adventure had to start sometime.
I hope to document the day of travel before I forget it all, but I'd like to work back to that day a bit with this post.
Before Lauryn was born, we studied the pros/cons of nursing vs formula quite heavily. It was a struggle to feed Lauryn at first, including a late night trip by Madge, with Mennipus' help, to the hospital because of a severe case of mastitis. After a few weeks, things settled down and nursing turned out to be rather convenient (not to mention the health and emotional positives for Lauryn).
We weren't going to change our routine with Sophia. But things didn't go very well this time around. We were able to better manage the first few days, but Sophia wouldn't latch and her electric equivalent (the proxy nurser) needed to always be at hand. Thus the prospect of traveling only three weeks after her birth, with these complications persisting, was definitely a daunting adventure.
However, we don't often turn down a challenge, and we survived the day of travel. Just four days later, we were weary and facing a bleak situation.
Friday night, just when things in the feeding department seemed to be turning a corner, Madge started feeling achy and feverish. We both immediately recognized these as mastitis symptoms. But this time we were in a foreign country, with the expectation of having health care coverage, but nothing to prove (even to ourselves) that we wouldn't be facing huge medical bills because of the infection.
So I pumped Madge as full of ibuprofen as I could and did my best to let her rest – hoping that somehow things could improve on their own.
That night I laid, half-awake, trying to imagine how to get out of this awful situation. "We could fly back, and just forget living here," my fatigued brain said amongst other equally unrealistic solutions. Saturday morning Lauryn and I awoke early, and Sophia and Madge slept. Hoping that Madge would awaken feeling better, I was rebuked by her reminder late that morning that, "These things don't just get better."
"I need to see a Doctor."
I went into panic mode, being forced to deal with a situation that I dreaded and that caused me much anguish. Immediately I realized that I had no one to turn to. The internet didn't give me any health hotline numbers to call for advice, and I didn't have time to waste. A co-worker, Dennis, who had also moved down for the project at work, was my only hope. I didn't know his home phone number, but luckily I'd asked him about his weekend plans, and knew that he was going to be in the office that morning.
So I sent him an email. I could have tried calling his extension, as its one off from my own, but I figured that if he were in the office, he'd check his email before checking his voicemail (and its permanent queue of 15 messages). Within minutes he called. I'm thankful for his wisdom and his assistance. Basically he told me to forget the potential expense and get the situation taken care of – that it was foolishness to risk Madge's health. He also volunteered to look around the office for our project manager's home phone (or cell) number and that he'd even call and find out what he could as far as my coverage was concerned (and what I should say and do).
He left voice-mails with at least two people before getting a live body, and promptly called back saying that we should simply head to the nearest hospital, explain our symptoms (but not raise any alarms) and to be armed with our Visa card (just in case).
I knew there was a hospital around the corner (and another just on the other side of the freeway), so we packed up the kids and made our first outing: a trip to the hospital. We were surprised that the walk-in emergency was empty. Madge wrote her symptoms on a card, and dropped it in a box. A triage nurse retrieved it from the other side of the wall in a few minutes, and soon she was evaluated. Sophia slept and Lauryn ate a two-slice peanut butter and jam sandwich (the whole thing - crust and all.)
After being evaluated, and prior to seeing a doctor, payment had to be arranged. I could remember enough from the healthcare forms I'd filled out two days prior that I was able to convince the administrator-guy that we should have coverage even though we'd not yet received cards. Madge saw a doctor and our home-diagnosis was confirmed. A simple antibiotic prescription would be sufficient and we were done.
In the meantime, Lauryn's diaper had leaked and she'd started into her second PB&J sandwich (which she later finished!).
Based on the "Primary Care Physician" that I'd chosen (two days earlier), the Administrator-guy warned that our insurance plan might try and get out of paying for our visit because we'd gone to a hospital to which our Dr. was not affiliated! Ugh.
We'd survived that far only to learn that the hospital that we should have gone to was right next door. Not only are there two hospitals within a 5-minute drive of each other, there are actually three within that distance. (I later discovered that the Dr. is affiliated with the hospital we picked, and we haven't heard anything from the insurance people yet.)
Basically things worked out well despite all my trepidation and agony. The business nature of medical service down here does mean that the emergency wait is nice and short, and that the people are very friendly and accommodating (as they want your business). But honestly, three hospitals within shouting distance seems a bit excessive.
Oh, wait, we now live in the land of excess. I forgot for a second...