How it hit the fan and then I lost it / by Susie Lubell

Sabra

Well it was only a matter of time before what all was on the sidewalk, would rise up and hit the fan. We are on the other side of a horrible week. Things were moving along and we were getting everything done but Mr. Rosen was soon to start work and there were still some bureaucratic items hanging in the balance. One of them was our residency status. As returning citizens of Israel we're entitled to certain benefits, one of which is an exemption on the social security we haven't been paying for the last ten years (since we've been paying into another country's system). The deal is that if you've been away long enough and you come back, you pay a bunch of money and then you get reimbursed by the government, half right away and half after a year. And paying into this system means you have health insurance too. Apparently when Israel went universal with health care many years ago they figured it was easier to run it through social security since that system was already in place. Easy peasy.

Turns out that my status is a little different since I am technically a new immigrant whose status was frozen when I left Israel eleven years ago and now resumes as do some of my new immigrant rights. Some of the rights are useful like financial help setting up my studio. Others are less useful. One thing is for sure: I have a six month waiting period for my residency to kick in and I used up my six months of free health care in 1998 when I moved here originally so we ponied up for private health insurance for me. Mr. Rosen and the kids were supposedly insured the moment they returned, so said everyone with whom we spoke. Not true. It took us two full weeks to get all of our residency paperwork in order, not to mention the strike, so the earliest we could pay this chunk of money was a few days ago. Then the website where you pay was down. FAAAA!!! Meanwhile the insurance we had through Mr. Rosen's former employer was going to expire November 30. And that's exactly when the baby and my older son came down with 103 fever and a horrible rash. Less horrible for the seven year old. Full blown on the baby.

I posed the question of how to get my kids seen by a doctor to a Facebook group I found of English speakers in my town and everyone was sure we could be seen in the clinic. Not true. I went to the clinic and explained our very complicated situation but the receptionist insisted we go somewhere else because we didn't have magnetic health insurance cards. That is when I went all mama bear and started shrieking about how my baby might have measles (it did in fact look like measles and about four other viruses according to Dr. Google). No dice. I walked out hysterical and a nice young woman offered to drive me to another town where she was pretty sure they would take us. We followed her through a checkpost into what is technically the West Bank to a religious town where everyone has twelve kids with rashes so they probably wouldn't even ask for a magnetic card. At this point I am on high alert having forgotten after being away for eleven years that it's totally normal to drive into the West Bank and go to a health clinic in an ultra-orthodox town. Our tour guide sits with us while we wait to be seen except they won't see us either. The kids national identity numbers are not yet in the system. It can take two weeks from the time you established residency. And this is when I ask why on earth would it take two frigin weeks for the country-wide computerized system to be updated? I mean it only took god one week to create all the world! How does it get updated? By hand? Courier pigeon? Maybe a tiny gnome writes the numbers down on a paper and brings the papers by bike to the Ministry of Health? I decide to take pictures of my baby and send them to my brother in law and my pediatrician friend and they both give the same diagnosis which I pretend is the same as being seeing by a doctor in person. Because our only other option is urgent care, which I would only resort to if the rash randomly turned into appendicitis or something.

We're on day five of the rash and it's slowly fading. And my disbelief and disappointment in what I once considered an exemplary national health care system is also fading. Every system has its cracks. We happened to fall into more of a crevasse. And all this during the same week that our kids started hating school. It was a little more than my delicate system could handle. It seems all that time in California made us soft. Got to get me some thicker skin, the kind with long, pokey spines. Stat.