Did you know garlic is a powerful antibiotic?
I didn’t either, until I had lived in Germany on an Army post for a couple months.
One day, my daughter woke up with a fever. It was just high enough to have me worried, so I waited for the appointment line to open for the day, and called as soon as the clock rolled over to 7:30am.
We know how this goes, so of course, I had the number programmed in my phone. All the better to dial quickly. By 7:31am I had navigated (like a pro) through the menu options and found myself on hold, waiting to talk to a representative.
“There are seven calls ahead of you.”
My heart sank. Seven isn’t great. Seven means it’s likely that the appointments for the day will be filled before they get to me. But, being the optimist I am, I hung on the line.
After all, my baby daughter had a fever. She’s never sick, and even after being trained as a nurse, fevers in infants worry me. The hold music starts playing, and I pulled out the thermometer again. I held my breath and hoped.
Nope, the fever was still there. She’s was flushed, and clammy, and crying, again, because I just had to take her temperature one more time.
“There are four calls ahead of you.”
It’s now 7:45am and I am losing hope. I’m bouncing the baby and waiting.
Finally, a representative comes on the line, gets my husband’s social security number, and asks me to explain the problem. I do, and the baby screams, filling in the gaps of my story with her own frantic song.
“The earliest we can get you in is Friday. There is an appointment at two.”
Today is Monday, and we need seen now. Friday won’t work. On Friday, she’ll be fine. Or, as my overly worried Momma brain starts thinking, she’ll be dead.
The only other option is to take her to the emergency room. Germany doesn’t have an urgent care system, and other than the small clinic on post, there isn’t an American facility to go to. However, the German children’s hospital is amazing, if your child needs a hospital; if you have an infant with a fever, it’s really not that great. What I needed was antibiotics for an ear infection, and the reassurance that I was doing the best I could by hydrating and comforting my child at home. What I got was excessive testing in the German hospital, hours of waiting, the stress of not being unable to understand the system, and the flu (probably from the arm rests in the waiting room).
Unfortunately, this situation happened to me again, and again, for the three years we were stationed in Germany.
During our tour there, I was only seen ONE time for an urgent matter in the pediatrician’s office, and that was because I sat in the office and refused to leave until someone could help me.
I learned quickly the best I could do was attempt to help myself. I learned that garlic is a powerful antibiotic… in large doses. And believe me: you really haven’t lived until you’ve tried to get your five year old to swallow four cloves of fresh garlic to treat a suspected ear infection.
I learned Germany has an extensive alternative medicine culture, and in a pinch, I could go to a pharmacy off post and communicate my problems (in terrible German) to their pharmacists. I learned essential oils can help, and sometimes, you just have to suck it up and spend two nights in the German hospital for an issue American doctors would treat as urgent care, and send you home.
This has to change. Our military children deserve better. As wonderful as alternative medicine and emergency rooms are, we shouldn’t be forced to use them because there aren’t enough appointments, or doctors, to go around.
In the meantime, I’m stocking up on garlic.
Have you had problems making an MTF appointment for a sick family member? Please tell us about it and include the approximate time frame (we are most interested in recent situations to show this is a current problem). We will compile your stories and share with Congress and senior DoD leadership.