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At The Prague Military Hospital

It’s the stupid things that show you what really matters.

PRAGUE, Czech Republic- I’m at the military hospital. I was starting to get the impression that the rib that I hurt when I fell off the trampoline in Vienna while playing with my daughters may have been worth getting looked at. I never go to the doctor, but there’s a hospital rising up almost right behind my apartment here in Prague 6 and four days into the injury the discomfort is growing worse, not better.

Me in front of the hospital. Scared.

So I’ve been sitting in the emergency room waiting area for the past hour. It’s Saturday morning and people who got too fucked up on Friday night keep rolling by on stretchers. There’s a guy who looks like he got beat up. There’s another guy in handcuffs surrounded by cops who looks like he beat somebody up. There’s some chick on a hospital bed who looks like she OD’ed that someone seems to have forgotten in the hallway.

I probably should have waited until Monday.

It’s Saturday morning and people who got too fucked up on Friday night keep rolling by on stretchers. There’s a guy who looks like he got beat up. There’s another guy in handcuffs surrounded by cops who looks like he beat somebody up. There’s some chick on a hospital bed who looks like she OD’ed that someone seems to have forgotten in the hallway.

When checking in I asked the triage nurse how long she thinks the wait would be. She told me she had no idea.

So we wait. My wife is sitting next to me. My two-year-old daughter Rivka is sitting on her lap. My eight-year-old daughter Petra is sitting on the other side of them.

This was not how they envisioned spending their Saturday.

My wife is going to school here in Prague. It’s an incredibly intense course and she works her ass off all through the week. She hardly sees us. So on the weekend she just wants to go out and do something fun.

And then she goes to the f’cking hospital.

We wait some more, and some more, and some more.

All I need is an X-ray. The entire process could be done in 15 minutes. But four hours later we’re still on the bench watching and smelling f’ck up people getting wheeled by.

All I need is an X-ray. The entire process could be done in 15 minutes. But four hours later we’re still on the bench watching and smelling f’ck up people getting wheeled by.

I understand that the lack of severity of my injury puts me down at the bottom of the triage totem pole. I get that. However, I have something that could more than likely be taken care of very quickly, so why clog up the works with someone would could easily be processed and sent on his way?

They don’t get that here.

I buy my wife a Snickers bar, Petra M&Ms, and Rivka a Kit Kat. Rivka smears the Kit Kat all over her face.

We wait … we wait … we wait.

I go up and complain. I tell them that I’m going to walk out if they don’t let me see a doctor. They tell me that I can’t leave once I’m registered. I tell them to watch me.

I’m immediately called in. What a coincidence.

An extremely attractive nurse practitioner wearing a gleaming bright red thong beneath see through white nurse pants spends five minutes taking my pulse and filling out a slip for me to go get an X-ray. The X-ray takes another five minutes. Then I return to emergency room to get the results.

Two more hours go by. I buy Petra a muffin.

I complain, tell them that I’m going to walk out again.

I’m immediately called in. What a coincidence.

I look over the shoulder of red underpants at my ribs on a computer screen. Nothing broken. Nothing cracked. Nothing on the verge of stabbing me in the heart and killing my ass.

Bruised ribs.

Embarrassed, I go out and get my family, pay, and leave. I toss the diagnoses sheet and everything else in the trash on the way out. I’m upset that I wasted their Saturday like that. Through it all — six hours of sitting in a horrible place doing absolutely nothing — nobody complained, nobody cried, nobody whined. They all just sat there and took it … for me.

By going to the hospital I thought I was going to get to tell the story of breaking my ribs. Instead, I was able to tell the story of what an incredible family I have.

Filed under: Czech Republic, Health

About the Author:

Wade Shepard is the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 89 countries. He is the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3465 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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Wade Shepard is currently in: Prague, Czech Republic

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