Monday, February 27, 2012


First rule of travel--never get sick

It started as a normal cold. By Friday I was coughing and by Saturday I was afraid I was going to lose a lung. My ribs were so sore from coughing up green stuff that I decided that I had created a great new abdominal exercise. I drank green tea with ginger and chamomile after consulting with my acupuncturist. But, alas on Saturday night I had the most restless non-sleep ever. I had coughing fits that I thought would turn my lungs inside out. Somewhere between midnight and 3am I made the decision that self medication just wasn't working. I was going to have to see a healthcare professional tout de suite. Early on
Sunday morning I called Judeh, our on-call officer. Judeh lives in the area and went straight to work. Within an hour I got the name of Dr. De Gaulle. He was expecting my call.

The first surprise--he does house calls on Sunday mornings after mass--he is a Palestinian Christian living in Beit Jala, a village contiguous with Bethlehem. He arrived about 15 minutes after our phone conversation.He is a silver haired gentleman in every sense of the word, with a warmth and wonderful sense of humor. After examining me and taking my medical history he pronounced that I have a bad case of bronchitis and began writing prescriptions, everything in English.

So, I had to ask about his name.with his card in my hand I now saw that his first name is DeGaulle. He was born in 1946 in Beit Jala, and at that time
DeGaulle was in Syria, so the doctor suggested this baby should have the name DeGaulle. This doctor was the very same who recommended that his older brother born in 1937 be named Mussolini. His father was actually arrested for yelling "Mussolini" in the streets. So they changed that child's name to Franco.

The cost? 200 shekels for the visit or about $53 Us dollars and 5 prescriptions for a total of 172 shekels or less than $50.

Never get sick, but if you do, never underestimate the gracious local doctor who makes house calls. And, FYI, he was educated in Spain, married a Spanish women and their 3 children are all fluent in Spanish, italian, French, English, and Arabic. One daughter lives in Florence, one daughter lives here and is a news broadcaster, his son is a banker.

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