#16 Medical assistance in Serbia

Health Center entrance.

On the 14th of August, 2019, I decided to write about what happened last week, when Betina and I got sore throat. We believe it happened because we were a bit careless with our life-style: cold drinks contrasting the hot weather, too cold air conditioning and hitting us directly at the hostel, wind, river bathing, many walks under a really hot sun, etc. Our bodies asked for a break.

Bê fell ill first and, the following day, it was my turn. She was able to heal making use of the resources we had: Ayurvedic shots, lemon + honey teas, ginger teas, ginger chewing, some extra care with our feeding and, of course, avoiding too strong air conditioning.

But for me that was not enough and, three days after the first symptoms, I woke up feeling so bad I could not speak or swallow. Then I opted to talk with our colleagues at the Tesla Art Hostel – where we were volunteering – and ask them for some hints about doctors who could see me.

Our colleague Aleksandar was extremely helpful and pointed us an attendance place called Дом здравља „Др Јован. Јовановић Змај“ (this sounds like “dom zdravlia iovan iovanovic zmai” and it means “Dr. João Jovanovic Zmaj Health Center”). As it was raining, he also called us a taxi and instructed the driver in Serbian, which helped a lot, since not everyone speaks English in Novi Sad.

The taxi costed us 170 Dinars (approximately 1.44 Euros or BRL 6.46).

When we got there, I was able to communicate with the information center using a combination of English and some mimic, then we were directed to the оториноларинголог sector (“otorhinolaryngology”. So obvious, isn’t it? 🙂 ) and we stayed there, in expectation on how the attendance would turn out. “Will the doctor understand and/or speak English?”, “How much will this thing cost us?” We were questioning this because, at the time, we had no health insurance, since our CDAM had expired and, even if it was still valid, we would not be able to use it in places other than Portugal, Italy and Cabo Verde. (You can read more about the CDAM (the free health insurance) clicking here).

Attendance corridor.

We arrived right when they were having their break, so we ended up having to wait for about 1 hour for them to start calling us to be attended.

At some point, the secretary opened the door and gave us all the instructions. In Serbian! That is, we understood zero. I asked if she spoke English and she replied “doctor”, which I interpreted as “speak directly to the doctor”.

Attendance door.
Over that little box it is written “Leave your documents here”.

And that’s how it went. I was seen by др Зоран Додић (Dr. Zovan Dodić), who – *phew* – spoke English. Being an extremely considerate person, he asked us about the trip, what we were thinking of Serbia, and, of course, about my symptoms. I was thoroughly examined and the diagnosis was as we had anticipated: bacterial tonsillitis. At the end of the consultation, Dr. Zovan incredibly tells me that the value of the consultation should be determined by me! From my internet searches, the cost of a consultation in Serbia is around EUR 35.00. We didn’t even have all that money in Dinars, but the amount we gave was gladly paid, given the excellent service. He even asked me to come back in a few days to do a new evaluation. I noticed in his look that I could have left the place without paying anything! It was without doubt one of the many angels we have encountered on this trip.

When we left the health center, the rain had given a break and we decided to walk back to the hostel and already shop at the pharmacy (I was prescribed 5 medicines, including the antibiotic). At the pharmacy, we spent EUR 16.00 (approximately BRL 71.00).

Shop at the pharmacy. I love it! #butno

Then we returned to the hostel, where Aleksandra was waiting for us looking forward to news. I said the doctor had recommended rest for at least 48 hours and he reacted best, telling me “Of course, you have to rest. Rest as much as you need.” Yes, another angel.

But hang on! It’s not over yet!

Just the night before, a girl from Russia, who had previously volunteered at the hostel, arrived to stay for 2 nights. Because of that, I wouldn’t have to do the check-ins of the day, as she knew every routine of the hostel. Another coincidence?

And behold, at the end of the day, Aleksandra finished his work shift and came to our room to say ћао (“bye” in Serbian) and he told us the hostel owner (who keeps track of everything through cameras) asked him to give us a financial bonus, since we were the best volunteers they ever had there. Bonus amount? Coincidentally the same amount I spontaneously gave to pay for the consultation.

Since we left, we have experienced countless situations where it is clear that what we emanate always comes back. And here are some more examples of this.

This makes it easy to feel happy even when you are ill, isn’t it?

Gratitude, life! Gratitude, universe!

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