Monday, October 25, 2010

Finding a Pediatrician in Egypt

Trying to find a doctor for our baby in Egypt was the first test of parenthood for us. We had the baby. We got him home safely. We followed every rule. We took every precaution.

And two weeks later he mysteriously developed a cough.

What were we to do now?

There is something about having a baby that brings everything to the surface. I realized really quickly what my priorities were.

Because this was the first real problem we had to solve together as parents. Now we were the sole care providers for one helpless little baby boy. Every decision mattered. For want of a better phrase, it was a "life and death situation."

We had to find a pediatrician.

And I couldn't hold onto all of my American ideals. And my husband couldn't hold onto all of his Egyptian traditions.

We had to find the balance.

Finding any kind of a doctor in Egypt can feel a bit like trying to find a needle in a haystack. I sometimes think that there's a doctor on every corner here. And there seems to be a million doctors for any possible kind of ailment you can think of.

So how DO you find a pediatrician in Egypt?

Know thyself. You have to know what you want. You have to know what you don't want. This sounds simple but isn't always the easiest to determine. Sometimes you have to prioritize the wants and don't wants because there's no guarantee that you can get everything you want in one doctor.

  • We preferred a doctor with morning hours AND evening hours. A lot of doctors only work at night in Egypt (they spend their days working in the hospitals). 
  • We needed a doctor who spoke good English (as in, could speak English the entire time we were in his/her office). 
  • We didn't want to wait for the doctor in a small, crowded waiting room. We knew from experience that being that close to other sick kids with a newborn was not the way to go. 
  • We wanted a doctor who was prompt. It is not unusual in Egypt for your appointment to be at 7:00 PM and the doctor not show up until 7:30 or 8:00 PM.
  • We wanted a doctor close to home. Surely there was a decent pediatrician within 15 minutes driving from our house!

Know what's out there. I didn't know that there were basically 2 schools of thought in Egypt among pediatricians. The first school advocates the use of medicines, and the second discourages medicines and instead focuses on the building of the child's immune system. (Translation: the first school will give your 2-week-old baby antibiotics without even hearing that cough and the second school will rip you a new one for giving your baby antibiotics at just 2 weeks old.)

Recommendations from other doctors. I had a great OBGYN in Egypt who walked us through every crazy moment and survived my incessant questioning during my pregnancy with our son. So once we had the baby, our first question to him was - do you know any good pediatricians? He knew us, he knew what we needed, so he gave us some recommendations based on that.

Recommendations from other parents. I think this was the key in helping us make our final decision on a pediatrician. We got first-hand knowledge of how the doctor works, what his/her theories about medicine are, what kind of atmosphere he/she has in their office and waiting room, and what their working hours are... all without actually having to go see them first.

Trial and error. Time consuming. Nerve-wracking. A leap of faith. Because every time you go to a new pediatrician with a young baby they start from scratch. You don't transfer your records from the other doctor. You don't talk through the "what have you been doing so far" with your baby. They start from the beginning and go all the way through the process.

This is both good and bad.

Well, the good news is that we found a pediatrician we love. Our son likes him. We like him, his waiting room, his working hours, his receptionists, his theories on medicine (so far), his manner of dealing with us, and - most importantly - his way of caring for our son.

So for now, score 1 for Team Amir!

1 comment:

  1. Can u plZ let me know the drs no and info or name so I can use him!


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