Apr 04 2020

Hope is the last one to die

Category: MiscellaneousIuliana @ 14:46

The title is a rough translation of a Romanian idiom, and it represents the country I was born in more than I’d like and it is heart breaking.

Although one of the countries with the best internet in the world, one of the country producing the best doctors and software developers, Romania is still viewed as a third word country by most. In my opinion, a lot of things are better now, and being third is not such a bad thing, because to my knowledge there are a few other levels that are a little worse.

Nevertheless there are two things in Romania that from my point of view make it a third world country in the worst way: the education system and the health system.

You might be inclined to say that the education system produces all those good doctors and software developers that the rest of the world knows about, how does that make sense? Well, excelling at something against the system is not the same as thriving because of it.

Supposedly communism has been abolished in 1989, but the communist way of organizing things is still a thing in Romania. Most connections and relatives of political representatives get jobs in the public system and most people are still promoted based on those criteria. Because of that, education and health are … in metastasis. People that realize the tragedy of the system they will be part of once finishing their studies and are unwilling to risk their future leave the country. So the best leave and what is left, becomes hardened by bitterness and cynicism or adapts to a corrupt system.

I try to stay away from the news these days, because I noticed that the state of this world seem to have a worse effect then I’d want to. A few years ago I was sick with the flu and unable to take to the streets to protest together with my family and friends against some shitty laws the Romanian government was passing. But I was reading the news, watching the protests live on facebook and I started to shack and cry, because I wanted to be there with them, but also because I knew in this good forsaken country, nothing will change. I’m not a fatalist, more of a realist that knows a little bit of her country’s history.

Back to the health system. Although I moved away from Romania and never plan on moving back there, I do read stories from friends and acquaintances and I am horrified. You know how in 17th or 18th centuries people viewed going to the doctor as the last resort, after praying, blood being drawn, eventually some witchcraft? Well, Romania is not too far from that. People tend to say about Romanian hospitals that if you go to the hospital you will probably get out of there with some extra diseases(yes, plural) if you get out at all.

In December 2010 I broke my hand in three places, really close to my joint and I needed an operation to put the bones back in place to ensure proper functionality. I witnessed then the tragedy of the Romanian public health system first-hand. I witnessed the filth, the lack of concern for the people waiting in line in the emergency corridor, the suffering of people that were ignored by nurses and doctors. The doctor that operated my hand was by all means an asshole, a true doctor House, with the attitude and expertise. Because he did fix my hand, I have 99% functionality of it thanks to him and the physiotherapy, but he did so while berating me for breaking it in the first place, for being late to take a X-Ray (because I had my eye operated on, ffs) and so on. He was always referring to me as “you people”, and that “you people” represented all the patients that he was pissed of for whatever reason. My only light, my only support through that whole ordeal was the resident that first saw me the night when I went to the emergency system with my hand in my other hand: Zaharia Bogdan. The last time I googled him he was somewhere in France. He sometimes stayed on those cold and sad hallways and talked to me. His father was sick most of his life, and he was left to wait a lot on those same hallways. So he became a doctor to reduce the waiting time for sick people to see a doctor. And there I was, here and there, waiting for him to check the progress of my hand, sometimes for hours. And I could see he was heartbroken that I had to wait, and I kept telling him it is ok, I know there are other people that need him and he said it shouldn’t be this way. He never criticized the hospital or the health system he was part of. But we ended up talking about his salary as a medicine resident and I was horrified. This wonderful person, that was able to be nice to me and reassure me all will be fine, in the midst of all that pain, and suffering, and filth, and that saved my hand, had a salary that did not allow him to rent a place and live alone. His wife was a medicine resident too and they both lived with their parents. It was unfair and I wish I could have done something. But I was ashamed to offer him money, because I did not want to offend him. The only thing I offered him was a box of Raffaello coconut sweets, and I had to insist for him to accept it. But most Romanian doctors are not like that. I was really, really lucky. I think after residency they all become like doctor House, only most of them unfortunately lack the expertise.

The strongest of the reasons I cancelled my trip home at the beginning of this pandemic, was that I was afraid that I was a spreader and wanted to avoid getting my loved ones sick. But the other reason was that if I was sick or suspected of being sick and needed to be in quarantine, I did not wanted to be quarantined in Romania. Because I knew this meant being locked together with a group of persons suspected as well, and if one of them was really sick, all of us would be sick soon. And when I say locked, I mean just shoved in a building where no family or friends are allowed, where the word “care” did not mean what you think it means, where the bathrooms are dirty and unhygienic and there are no showers or clean towels or clean sheets, etc. I know all this, because after having my hand operated I had to stay for three days in the hospital in the conditions listed above.

I am sure there are good doctors in Romania, I am sure some of them are still good persons, but they are so rare and they do not define the system. That is why I avoid reading quarantine stories from Romania, because it is heartbreaking and I know … the health system in Romania will never change. I mean, while people are waiting in those damn hallways to be tested and they are actually getting sick because they are crammed together like sheep, the political class of Romania is busy making laws to free people from prisons, giving them some more powers, and the president just took advantage of the situation to place its own man as prime minister without elections.

While other countries make efforts to bring their people home and welcome them, in Romania people were blocked at the border and treated like cattle and our president and prime minister urged people being outside the country not to come back unless they have serious reasons.

This is why Romania will never change. We Romanians say that hope is the last one to die, and we use that idiom in a positive way, as in, as long as we have hope we’ll be fine. But we are not fine, we haven’t been for a long time. Romania has been infected with this political cancer for more than 25 years, and now during this pandemic we finally noticed the signs of the metastasis.

And here I am writing this and crying for a country that I do not intend to move back to. Why? Because my dearest friends and family are there and there is not much can I do to help them. If I were there, I couldn’t have been able to do much either, because you know, quarantine and all.

So yeah, hope is the last one to die. You’ll find similar idioms in the bible and in other languages too. Hope is for Romanians like a family heirloom, priceless, but useless.

Stay safe, stay happy and stay inside!

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2 Responses to “Hope is the last one to die”

  1. hasony says:

    I hope so ,and thanks, you are good & strong .I learned from you so much

  2. hasony says:

    I hope so .thank you thank you thank you thank you . I’m interesting by reading your book about java

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