Me: So riddle me this, Alfredo (Pai). Why is it that I could go down stairs to the clinic and have all the exams done for my next Rheumatologist appointment in April, it would only take 15 minutes and be infinitely easier than going to the cattle call appointment from hell tomorrow at 9am?
Pai: Because it is infinitely cheaper.
Me: I would rather pay roughly €5 more at the clinic down stairs and we wouldn’t have to take Hank to school mega early and Molly to Ana’s (her sitter and our family friend) while she is still in her pajamas. And it is extremely difficult at the hospital. There is nowhere to sit, they take any and every grannie before me because they cannot see how much pain I am in and it always takes 3 hours for a 2 minute blood draw.
Pai: It is cheaper for the government if you have your exams done in the hospital. They have all of the equipment there and it is better that they do it in house.
Me: WHY? My Rheumatologist only looks at my exam results 30 seconds before I walk in it isn’t that big a deal if I just carry them in with me!
Pai: What you are not understanding is that your co-pay as a citizen is relatively the same regardless of where you have your exams, but the cost to the national healthcare system is not. I know it is really hard for you. This is why I go with you to your appointments to help you.
Me: (whining) But tomorrow is at the pathology department which is the worst. It is that tiny little room and it is just beyond confusing and…
Pai: We will find you a seat somewhere. I will stand in the queue for you and come and get you when it is time for your blood draw.
Me: I just don’t understand.
Pai: (parking the car) There was a huge scandal a few years ago when the government realized that some doctors were sending patients out of the hospital to clinics just to line the pockets of their friends for exams that could have been easily done in the hospital. I know for you this is really painful and your whole day will be ruined after the morning, but there is nothing we can do.
Me: (getting emotional)
Pai: I am sorry. I will do my best to help you be as comfortable as possible. (getting out of the car to take sleeping Molly out of her seat.)
Hank: I am so sorry, mama.
Me: It’s okay, Hank. I just wish there were an easier way.
Hank: I hear you are scared, but my papa will help you.
Me: (chuckling at the truth) Ha, that is it. You’re right. I am scared because my body is going to hurt more tomorrow and for the next few days than it already does. I didn’t realize that was why I was so upset until now. Nothing gets past you does it?
Hank: (putting his had on my shoulder) Papa will help you find a seat and then you can take deep breaths until it is your turn. I don’t mind going to school early. I will have more time to study for my test. You have to let papa help you. It’s going to be okay.
Me: (nodding) You’re right. I’m being silly.
Hank: Do you need some space or can I open the car door for you?
Me: (nervous laughter, getting out of the car) No, I’m ready. I am sorry, Alfredo. I’m sorry, Hank. I am just really bad at accepting help.
Molly: (waking up, sleepy eye’d) Nah-Nah.
Pai: Yes, you are, but that’s nothing new.
Hank: It’s perfectly okay.
Pai: And when it is all over I will take you out to breakfast.
Hank: It will be a date.
Me: Well, who could say no to that.