Today I had to go to Rishon Letsiyon for a medical appointment. Let's not go into any gory details, let's just say it's something people of a certain gender who are over 30 or so should do once a year and leave it at that. I actually received a letter from my health company reminding me to do this. It was in Hebrew of course and let's just be glad that some Hebrew words, especially technical and medical ones, are just Hebrew transliterations of English words, so it's easy to figure it out.
First I had to call the place and make an appointment. Done - yes, in Hebrew. I of course had to ask the person three times to repeat the date and time because I am still translating numbers into English in my head instead of just knowing what they are in Hebrew. "Hmmm....esrim v'shmoneh....ok, that's twenty and eight, OK! The 28th! Uh oh, what month did he say? Mayrts? OK, that's March. What time? Oh boy.
Not 2 minutes after I called to make the appointment, I received a confirmation email - 3 pages in Hebrew with instructions.
I was determined not to get help with this. I just sat with it and figured it out - and it only took me a few days! Progress! They said that the appointment was going to take 2 hours and have three steps - one of which was going to involve me giving them my entire life story and health history. Then the actual exam, then waiting to see if the test needed to be taken another time, in case of a bad reading, and then I could go.
I read that darn letter three times just to make sure I got everything right. My Ulpan friend told me she had gotten a letter as well so we decided to go together. See, my first reaction when I made the appointment was to ask one of my daughters to come with me - please, someone come with me to translate! Then my Ulpan friend and I decided we'd brave it together.
In preparation for the hour long initial interview I dug up all of my health records, my latest bloodwork from Baltimore, and the results of my most recent tests. Ha, I thought, I am SO smart, I will take these with me and whip them out just as the doctor says, "Well, we can't help you if we don't have any history on you." And I will be named the Patient of the Day! Or the Week!
So this morning, armed with my entire medical history and about 17 sets of directions to the place, a GPS and 2 phone GPS programs, my friend and I made our way to Rishon Letsiyon.
And got lost. But at least we got lost together. It was actually fun.
You see, the directions tell you what exit to take, but alas the direction people have never, it seems, spoken to the Israeli Highway Sign Authority. I am pretty sure that the IHSA is made up of a group of people with very good senses of humor and lots and lots of traffic cameras. I think they sit in a room all day and watch people swerve suddenly to the right because they THINK they are at the right exit or maybe it's the NEXT one so let's swerve the other way. It must be a laugh a minute in that office.
So of course the Rishon Letsiyon sign did NOT say "Moshe Dayan Interchange" as the directions said it should (come on, isn't it cool that many of the interchanges and highways here are named for famous Tzahal generals? I mean, isn't it way cooler than, say, "Frederick Road"?) .
So we took a wrong turn, toured Rishon for a while, and finally found the place.
Once inside it really hit me. I am here ON MY OWN! AHHHH!!! What do I do? I saw a reception area and waved my letter in the air - some lady saw me and asked me my name. She told me to sit. OK, I like sitting, I can do that.
Then they called me! I went to a desk. The woman started speaking quickly. I said in Hebrew, "I'm a new immigrant and my Hebrew is not that good yet, please speak slowly." She did. With words I did not know. Then I heard a word of a body part that we had learned in Ulpan! Yay - last week or the week before we learned all of the body parts! Yes, I know that! I answered her questions (I think). And she told me to sit again. Good.
I noticed that people were being called and told to go to a room number. What if I didn't understand the number of the room? What if I walked into the wrong room? I gotta say I was a little nervous. Then they called me, "Leibtag, Soozan [I love how they say that] - cheder arba." Arba! Yay! I know arba! That's four! I can do that!
I proudly walked back to room 4 and went in. I expected to sit down and be asked for my health history, as the letter had explained. A lovely young technician was there to greet me and I once again explained the situation with the Hebrew - she was very nice and welcomed me to Israel. I love that. They get such a happy look on their face when they say it. She did not ask me to sit down. She told me that we would be doing the test now.
Wait a minute, sister! I spent a half hour last night digging up all of this information, and you don't want it? What about me being patient of the month? But no, she did not have any questions for me. So much for the three-page letter and the three steps.
I had the test and she told me to wait. Then it was over and time to leave. Instead of two hours, it had taken 20 minutes.
I did it! Then my friend and I celebrated by (getting lost and then finding) the Ikea store nearby, almost running out of gas, getting lost on the way to the gas station, finding the gas station, finding our way back to Ikea, and shopping. Yay shopping!
So I guess I succeeded, but not without a good deal of anxiety. Next time it will be easier? Please say yes.