While there are many challenges to living overseas, the hardest thing for me lately, seems to be navigating the healthcare system here in Austria. It is one thing to take public the wrong way, or not be able to find something in the grocery store, BUT it is entirely another thing to not know what to do when your child is sick.
Even though I have asked all of my friends for pediatrician recommendations, no one has without hesitation, given me a recommendation. So in the 18+ months we have lived here, we have gone to our family practice doctor and the ER. As of today, I have now been to 3 different hospital's ER's...all with Levi. And all of the experiences are not some of my favorite memories of our time here.
Over the last week or so, we ALL have had the flu and colds that have settled in our heads, but this morning Levi kept crying and saying his ears hurt...he also was running a high fever. If we lived in the States, I would just call my pediatrician who has weekend hours of course, and take him to be seen. But here, I don't have a pediatrician, and I know of no one who has office hours on the weekend. And to make matters worse, MY FLUENT GERMAN SPEAKING HUSBAND HAD A MEETING IN SWITZERLAND THIS WEEKEND...so he is not here to take me and translate. ugh!
The second hardest part of living overseas...swallowing my pride, admitting I am incompetent, I can't do this alone and that I need help.
So I asked one of my Austrian friends to take me to the ER (ON A SATURDAY WHEN SHE COULD BE HOME WITH HER FAMILY) and sit with me for 4+ hours and find out that Levi has a DOUBLE ear infection, and then drive me to a pharmacy with weekend hours, so I can pick up Levi's prescriptions.
Of course she is happy to do it and really does understand what it means to be dependent on others...as she lived in the States for many years. She understands what it means to learn another language different from what you grew up with, and she understands what it feels like to have to learn another culture, she understands what it feels like to be an outsider. Her friendship is a real gift from God, and true empathy is not something I take for granted anymore. The "hardest things" are also teaching me how to better die to myself and develop a deeper compassion for others. Funny how the hard things in life have a way of doing that...
P.S. Also, a BIG thank you to Jodie (our teammate) for watching Luke and Abby while I was with Levi!