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Real Life Experience: Healthcare

One of my greatest worries about living in Bulgaria was having a medical emergency and how I would cope with Bulgarian health care. I recently had a crashing fall on our stairs and slammed my back very hard. Being an avid horse rider, I am used to such knocks and thought nothing much more of it, knowing that I was likely to suffer a couple of weeks with a big bruise and some muscle pain.

During the following two weeks the pain did seem to be improving, so, being the hardy sort, I soldiered on and tackled such things as carrying in the logs and even deciding to do some spring cleaning to get rid of cobwebs and such before Christmas. That was not the thing to do!

During the night I woke in excruciating pain: I could not lie down, nor sit and standing was only just bearable. My husband decided after some hours of this to call the local paramedics. How lucky we are to be living in a town with such a facility. Within three minutes the local ambulance arrived complete with driver and paramedic. He determined it was not sufficient of an emergency to take me to the nearest hospital in the dead of night but instead gave me an injection which was a mix of pain killer and sedative to get me through to the following day. To be honest, the pain killer didn't really do much so after a couple of hours I decided on a more traditional recipe to knock myself out for a while - hot lemon and honey with a good shot of brandy. Sleep arrived.

We have experienced the Bulgarian health system before and it has not been all good. So, we decided to avoid the local hospital and look for more "westernised" health care, particularly as we thought the problem could be a bruised spleen.

We contacted good friends who we could count on. Not people who have lived here for a few weeks and think they know everything but those who have lived in the country for more than 17 years! Thank goodness to have people like that who can be relied on to give good solid, trustworthy advice and assistance.

Within minutes a trip to Sofia was organised to see a specialist: a car booked to make the journey as I definitely could not drive and my husband needed the jeep at home.

The journey was made and I arrived at the diagnostic and consultative medical centre "Dr. I S Greenberg". Doctor Ellen Greenberg is an American lady who has been living in Bulgaria for eons. She went out of her way to make me feel welcome and for the first time in Bulgaria I felt that I had met a doctor who actually was listening to what I had to say. Of course, there was also no language problem, which is just what you need when you are frightened and in pain. She introduced me to Dr Krassimir Goranov who is one of the Directors of the clinic and also a specialist in neurology, particularly lower back pain. His English is so fluent you wouldn't know he is Bulgarian born.

He immediately undertook tests to determine where the pain was really coming from. He also brought in an orthopedic specialist. X-rays were taken immediately and within minutes we had the results. I had fractured some ribs. The doctors went through the x-rays with me and explained where the fractures were. I was charged 23 leva for the x-rays.

Of course with fractured ribs there is little you can do, except not do anything and wait for about four weeks before they mend themselves. I stayed in Sofia overnight then returned home with the same car and driver as the previous day.

I cannot explain what relief and reassurance I felt to meet such kind and understanding doctors, rather than the usual Bulgarian attitude that you are only a patient, they are the doctor, so they know best and it's not for you to know what is wrong.

I would highly recommend this medical centre to anyone who has health problems of any kind. They are excellent diagnosticians and incredibly caring, you will be in the best of hands.

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tel : 02 974 4816
Dr Greenberg direct : 0898 776 811