Admission to hospital instead of vacation

© Mats Thorstensson

A few years ago, Monika went to Turkey with her children Emil, Johannes and Jennifer. But their first vacation abroad did not turn out as planned. Here is her story.

“After just a couple of days into our holiday, Emil went down with a high fever that would not pass. The staff at the hotel where we were staying were helpful, and drove us to a medical centre”, explains Monika. ”We spent some time waiting, but the physician we eventually met was kind and spoke English!” Monika told him that Emil, who was 10 years old, had been born with Fallot. “The physician looked at the scar from the surgery”, says Monika. “Fallot is an international term, and I was very relieved that the physician understood straight away what it was.”The physician examined Emil and decided to send him to hospital.

They went to a private hospital, which was nice and clean. Emil was admitted to a ward, but unfortunately there was no place in the hospital for Monika or Emil’s siblings to stay. “It was a nightmare being at the hospital with two 10-year-old kids and a 9-year-old girl; I was, after all, on my own with the kids in Turkey!” The nurses did not seem interested,  Maybe, Monika thinks, because they did not speak or understand English very well, and did not understand Monika and her family’s needs.

Fever and cramps

The fever did not go down, and Emil developed cramps. The family spent the night in the ward together as best they could. Fortunately, Emil’s siblings were able to spend some nights with a family whom they had gotten to know at the hotel. Monika slept with Emil in the small hospital bed, or sat in a chair.

But then their luck changed. A Swedish girl, Katja, was admitted to the same hospital with a kidney problem. “She was our rescuer. Because she spoke Swedish, we were able to leave the ward for a while, and to go for some food, for example. Katja’s sister and friend also took Jennifer and Johannes with them on some excursions.”

Suddenly, however, the situation worsened. “Emil’s temperature dropped to 34•5°!” Monika explains. “I panicked. I thought that something was wrong with the thermometer, so I asked for a new one, but it showed the same reading. I tried to get hold of a physician, but the nurses did not seem to think it was necessary. I thought that Emil was going to die, and that I would have to bring him home in a coffin. He was lying under five or six covers and sheets, and was still cold. All the time he kept saying ‘I feel very bad mummy’. Finally a physician arrived and administered some drugs that made Emil’s temperature increase, but it was a day before it returned to normal. Even today I do not know what drugs he received; I never dared to look and I have not dared to tell Emil’s physicians. I did not want to say anything while he was taking the drugs in case the medication was no good for Emil, and he would have to stop taking it. His temperature might have gone down again. And he could have died.”

Brought back memories

The hospital stay in Turkey also brought back old memories for Monika and the insecurity that she felt when Emil was a newborn baby came flooding back. Emil was not big when he was born at 36 weeks, and his weight was less than a kilo - a substantial difference compared with his twin brother, whose weight was almost 2 kilos. The physicians heard a whistling sound from Emil, but it took a long time before he was diagnosed.

Emil spent the last days of his holiday in his hotel room. But he was still feeling poorly, and the physician visited daily.

Be aware of insurances

Monika borrowed a phone during the hospital stay to contact SOS International in Copenhagen. She also sent a lot of faxes, back and forth. “The hospital stay was very expensive, and thank God I had insurance and supplementary insurance policies,” she says. SOS told her to make sure to keep of all the receipts. The visit to the medical centre alone cost several hundreds Euros!

“The biggest problem was that the insurance company would only pay for Emil’s flight back home and not the flights for the rest of the family. But I wrote them a letter and explained how much we had already spent and how we had nothing left. None of us had had a vacation.” This letter enabled Monika to get almost all the money back.

This money funded a trip to Nicaragua, where Monika and the children went for a holiday over 3 years ago. They were well prepared for the trip, and Monika brought with her a stock of penicillin in case anything should happen. “We were gone for a month and I felt safe all the time”, she explains. “It is a wonderful country to visit, and I am glad that we went there. Nothing happened and the children have a fantastic memory for life.”

Author(s): Ulrika Hallin
Last updated: 2008-12-03