Saturday, July 16, 2011

A burglary or Czech Spiderman in action?

Let me just start this post by re-assuring everyone that I'm ok, safe, and there is nothing to worry about!

Our flat was broken into two weekends ago at about 3 in the morning.  I have four roommates, but only two of us were here.  I didn't hear a thing until I was woken by the sounds of men screaming Czech and seeing flashlights in our hallway.  I went out to see what was going on, and I saw three police officers with their guns pointed and flashlights looking in the rooms of our flat.  My initial thought was what the hell is going on? I honestly felt like I was in a movie or on the news.  I had images of the raids you see when they're searching out illegal immigrants, and while I'm here completely legally, my first thought was what did we do?  Are we getting deported?  By the way, none of the five of us who live here are Czech, and we are all here legally.  However, it's been ages since I've been woken up at that hour for an emergency, so my response time was a bit slow.  Thanks to my years as a Hall Director, I quickly became coherent enough to try to figure out what was going on.

I then look out in the hallway outside our apartment, and I see my one roommate who was home, Daniel  in the hallway, being restrained by the police.  Again, I had no idea what was going on and I tried to ask him, but the Czech police were talking to me.  I told them I don't speak Czech: "Nemluvím česky" And they asked me for my passport.  The police thought Daniel was the burglar, because he answered the door when they arrived.  This later made us laugh, because what kind of burglar answers the door when the police arrive?

Anyway...obviously, all this happened in Czech, and I was proud I had the thoughtfulness to speak in Czech and understand what they wanted.  So, I gave them my passport, and then I saw the room across from mine had glass everywhere and the two large windows were broken.  There was a rope hanging from the window frame.  By the way, we live on the 3rd floor, so we weren't sure how they did this.  It looked like my roommate's computer was gone (but he was traveling so maybe he had taken it), but nothing else was messed up.  There was even some money on a table that was there.  It was really strange!

The investigation continued as the police saw a piece of glass by the front door and blood in the hallway.  The police figured out that the guy just walked our our front door.  Thankfully Daniel speaks Czech, so he was translating for me as best he could.  The police went upstairs to talk to the neighbors, as the police seemed to think the robber came from upstairs based on the ropes.

In a broken translation, I found out that the girl who lives above us is the daughter of the woman who owns the building.  She seemed to be worried the police would tell her mom as "this has happened before" and she'd get kicked out if it happened again.  I wasn't sure what that meant, but there wasn't much of a chance to ask any questions.  I did learn that no one was up there that had a cut leg from crashing through windows, so nothing happened that night.  The police took pictures and left around 5 am and I went back to sleep - or at least tried to.

Our landlord came in the morning to clean up the glass and figure out how to replace the windows which happened a few days later due to two national holidays that following week.  I still hadn't heard anything, so I e-mailed my landlord to see what he knew about the situation.

He said that it was indeed a friend of the girl upstairs who apparently was on drugs and thought there were cameras in the building "watching him."  So, he took a rope and climbed out the window in an attempt to find the cameras and get rid of them.  He made it down to our level, but then he couldn't pull himself back up.  So, instead of dropping to the street (a 2 story fall), he crashed into our flat and walked out the front door!

The police know who did this and he will have to pay for the damages.  Our neighbors have claimed this guy will never come back to visit again and all is well in the world.  What a random, crazy, scary, and strange situation!

I'm grateful that it wasn't a robbery and feel much safer now.  I originally thought the whole thing was pretty strange, but it did freak me out a bit.  Especially since it happened in the middle of the night and while I was home.  I do feel very safe in Prague, but this has reminded me that its always important to be safe and careful no matter how safe you feel.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Love/hate relationship with Czech health care system

So, I know I've already posted the fun times visiting the Ear, Nose, and Throat doctor.  While the experience wasn't pleasant, the outcome was - I haven't been sick in months *knocks on wood.*

I've been dealing with pain in my right foot since I ran the San Francisco half-marathon last July, and I have been working on fixing the problem since I've been here.  Thanks to a good Czech friend, I found a new doctor who is wonderful and seems to be helping a ton!  So again, the moral of the story is that all is well (or getting there), however, getting there isn't always so fun.  And such is life...

So, I originally started seeing a private doctor (meaning health insurance didn't cover it), who didn't spend much time with me and charged a lot of money.  After several months of not seeing many results, I asked a friend for help and he helped me find a new doctor who is great.  He recommended some exercises to help strengthen my leg, some medicine to help with the pain/inflammation, xrays to see what's going on, and special inserts made for my shoes.  The first two tasks were very easy to accomplish.  The last two, were a bit more challenging...

I went to the shop to get the shoe inserts and no one speaks any English.  So, I wrote what I wanted to say on my phone translator and showed them the poorly translated words.  It was basic, but it worked.  I have to admit, I get a little anxious going to shops to accomplish something like this, because my Czech is really poor.  I don't like assuming people will speak English - many people here do - however, I am finding that the number people speaking English in the medical field is low.  Thankfully technology helps the translation a bit easier, but still, I don't like not knowing what the heck is going on!

And finally, I had to go get xrays.  My doctor just said, "Go to the hospital in your neighborhood."  Well, I didn't know where that was, so I turned to the internet and found two options.  I went to the first and found the radiology department, but there was no one there.  Even though I had wandered around aimlessly for an hour to find it, I decided to try the other option.  I asked for help at the information counter, and she just pointed and said "next door."  I couldn't find anyone to help and no one at this place seemed interested in helping the crazy lady (me) who was wandering the hallways.

So, back to the tram and off to the next hospital.  Again, grateful to have gps on my phone to help me find it.  However, I thought I knew where it was rather than looking at the map, so after about a 2 mile wander, I finally found the hospital and radiology department.   Thankfully my foot hurts, but I can obviously walk.  However, I do find it ironic that I had to wander around the city for a few hours to figure out where to get an xray on my foot.  This was mostly because I was being stubborn and didn't want to ask directions.  I thought a hospital would be easier to spot - there I go making assumptions!  ;)

I finally found the hospital and the radiology area, gave them my x-ray order and my health insurance card, and within 20 minutes, I had my x-ray, a cd of the x-ray and I was on my way home.  Oh, and by the way, I didn't pay a cent!  Health insurance here is amazing and when you see a doctor, the patient's co-pay is only costs 30 Czech Krowns (about $1.75).  So, while I find it frustrating to figure out this new system of health care, partly out of my stubbornness and will to figure it out on my own, and also partly because many people I did ask along the way in the hospitals were not helpful and seemed annoyed with my questions, the ultimate results are positive!