Monday 12 May 2008

Standing in line for a better health

Hi all

My first post - ever - on this blog. So it's the pressure of making it a good one. Or at least a bearable. Spellcheck, grammar check, facts check... pressure building up inside...

But maybe it doesn't have to be that difficult. To start a real discussion? I mean, there are things in everybodys lives that we aren't 100% happy about and heck, let's bond over those!

During the summer of 2007, I started to cough. It was a deep, overpowering and wet cough. It came with a cold, so I didn't think that much of it. Except the cold went away after about one week, and the cough just lingered. And lingered. And lingered.

Four months later, I had been back and forth to the doctors, four different doctors, I had gone through three antibiotic treatments to kill the bug that didn't have a name, four cough syrups, sleeping pills, painkillers, inhalators...

I'm still not fully ok, I still cough and my stomach aches from the spasmic attacks I have had to subdue to during those months and months of not knowing what was wrong with me. I bet it wasn't big, I bet a simple X-ray or - hello - a doctor actually checking out what's wrong with me instead of sitting behind his big, shiny desk and tell me with that condescending smile of his "it's probably nothing" might fix.

Here's the problem. An X-ray takes a few minutes, but the line to get the X-ray stretches over months. One of my friends was invited to an chest X-ray after 18months, the other one is still waiting.

Cancer patients don't get treatment, hip-replacement surgery line is more then two years long, and you pay, pay, pay for everything. That's being said for the country with "the best medical treatment" and the highest taxes. I use quotation marks, because I don't buy the shit they are spoon-feeding us with every day - even though it seems I'm a minority.

Every single doctor's visit costs. Every specialist visit costs. Every surgery, X-ray, CAT-scan... if you see a man in a white robe, run, because he will charge you for not helping you.

Time is money - the say - but what if you keep loosing both, while simply trying to find out what's wrong with you?

"I beg to differ!" any Swede would say, because they actually believe they have the best healthcare in the world. "It's fast and it's cheap and it's excellent." What do you answer to that - besides a discrete cough, because you're still not rid of that bug that still remains nameless?

Okay, they have a "highest pay" security, that makes sure nobody comes over the glass ceiling in the medicare system prices. But few hit the ceiling - unless they have chronic diseases that needs tending to 24/7.

Besides, teeth and eyes aren't included in the body. A GP visit costs 120SEK, a dental appointment from 600SEK to a couple thousands of SEK. And the dental appointments just go on and on and on - because you need the X-rays (each tooth individually, with that plastic thing jammed into your throat, making you gauge, while the doc bombards you with radiation - tooth by tooth), a couple of dental hygienist appointments, where she goes over your gums with something that looks like she stole from Captain Hook from Peter Pan... and you end up having loose, hurting teeth for the next couple of weeks.

But back to the cough. I still have it. It's been almost one year and various treatment for the nameless bug - and a row of doctors that didn't as much as shake my hand in fear of catching something.

Now my right knee hurts. I know it's a torn ligament. I'm afraid to go to the doc's. I don't need another nameless bug and 12 months of anguish that lead nowhere but back to square one. Only it's time- and money-consuming. Time and money I don't have to spare.

Is it too much to ask, to go into a hospital or private practice, see a doctor that actually checks what's wrong with you and get help? Within a reasonable time frame? Let's say a few days? Not "sign your name on the list, and we hope to get to you before you die"...

...other countries do it. Trust me, I know. I'm actually hoping to get sick while on vacation, because some countries out there take their patients seriously. And treat them, instantly, before a little bug grows out of control.


*cough, cough*


Anonymous said...

Wow. i didn't know it was that way. Good post; vivid :-) I'd say in that case, better you get on a flight and come over here.... we do have health tourism; a holiday packaged inclusive of a thorough medical checkup. It costs about RM 1000 at the best private hospital in the country (and you can get your report the same day, depending on the doctor), and that's high for us, but with your exchange rate, might be good for you. Plus, the doctors have the same qualifications as the ones there, I'd think; MBBS Ireland or London...
No wonder everyone's complaining, if the health system is so bad :-) Our government ones have long waiting lists too, but private hospital prices are not really exorbitant...

Anonymous said...

~eve~ thanks for the invite! I'll calculate on it and get back to you! :)

Anonymous said...

Nothing in life is free these days and I know if you present at a hospital emergency room here, they will treat you. If you need medication, you do pay for it, if the condition is serious enough that it warrants staying, you get treated for free unless you are a foreigner.
Not good when you been ill for so long,its depressing. Hope you find someone who will at least look into what ails you.

Anonymous said...

A family came in with a four month old baby that was coughing and couldn't catch it's breath to the emergency room. Six hours later, the baby dies in the arms of it's mother, because nobody paid them any attention.
The nurses passing continued commenting "someone will be with you shortly".
Afterwards, the hospital made an official comment of "this is a very unfortunate event that shouldn't have happened, but we are overworked and out staff needs their coffee breaks"

I'm not taking sides. I'm telling it like it is.

Anonymous said...

I have a very nasty morning cough...

Thing is, I have a shrewd idea what causes it.

Healthcare seems to be a problem everywhere. I'm not sure what the root causes are, but I think expectation has ben they key.
Technological advances in the last fifty years have meant that so many things can be dealt with that once couldn't- but of course, that technology costs.
Back when free health treatment for all became the new way forward, these costly advances hadn't been made. Even in my parent's days, people in their class DIED of things like Tuberculosis, or Scarlet Fever. Unheard of today. Now people expect the Health Service to everything. And of course, that's a huge advance.

But the advance has happened too fast for the infrastructure to adapt to the technological change, so the health services in all countries are in a state of chaos.

Really not sure what the solution is.

Anonymous said...

your solution is to dry your house out
I get those coughs in winter, or rather did, plus get some vits and stop being such a softy *rolls eyes*
You have an allergey to something, probably mould or animal hairs.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that was a sad story, heart ... not sure if it happens here, but I do know that even in our hospital, they leave you waiting in A & E for hours til, if you're well enough, you go home... and if not, til the doctors come in from their tea breaks/prayers... ;-)

Anonymous said...

This seems the story in every country these days, dissatisfaction with the health care system. Long line-ups for treatment and disinterested personnel everywhere.

It makes you wonder why these people go into these professions, unless it's for the job security.

I do hope you body will recover soon, luckily mostly it does eventually, even without treatment.

Anonymous said...

In Australia, we have the choice between private health care or public. Public is free, to a point, depending on what you have.
Most doctors surgeries will charge you about $55 to see them for 10 minutes...and then you pay that and go to medicare and get about $28 back.

We have waiting lists for public services...I've got to have my tummy looked at with a small camera and I've been on the waiting list for around 3 months but it should be soon that I get seen. I don't pay a cent for that, you just have to wait in line.

In each of our states the waiting times are different though. In W.A where I used to live, waiting times could be up to two years for the free public dentist! But you didn't pay a cent.

I had all three of my kids in the public health system and it was perfectly adequate and I would use it again.
If you really need emergency treatment, you get priority no matter if you are private or public.
I like our health care system...I know that most Australians grumble and gripe about it but we really do get it fairly good.
I'd rather be a single Mum in Australia than America, from what my USA friends have told me about their health care system.

About that cough - got to be smoking related eh?? Get better soon!!!

Anonymous said...

"I'd rather be a single Mum in Australia than America, from what my USA friends have told me about their health care system."

You got to be kidding :) Pretty much anyone can get into an ER, doctor's visits will be fast (if emergency) and surgeries don't take 6-8 months to happen.

The problem with the US healthcare is people don't have insurance, not care.

Anonymous said...

The problem with the US healthcare is people don't have insurance, not care.

Exactly. And since I quit my job last year to move to Australia, I have none myself. While in Oz, I had travelers insurance, but now if I needed care, I would have to find the "right" hospital to get care in, and it wouldn't be as good as care. I have one medication I take that if I filled it here in the states it would cost me $380 for 90 pills, so I will be heading to Mexico in a couple weeks to pay less than a third that for the same meds. I agree that every country has it's problems with health care. I think the first problem lies with the health care companies that continue to demand higher and higher profits. How the system get changed is anyones guess.

Anonymous said...

Good post. I am lucky; our Company/Union got us private health care. I trashed the cartilage in my knee. Spoke to a physiotherapist I know, got some recommendations. Got an appointment with a locum at our Drs. He diagnosed it as either rheumatism or cartilage problems quickly enough and started to suck his teeth about a long possible time frame. Quick as you like I said I have insurance, How about him or him? Fine he said.

Back home and a quick phone call to the insurance and I had a scan that week, by appointment, on time, no wait. The place smelt of good coffee, they had that days papers. An appointment with the recommended a rheumatologist the following week suggested it was the cartilage. Slightly more complicated then.

The rheumatic’s guy made me a quick appointment with the surgeon for first thing the following week after I immediately had x-rays and saw the surgeon again. Discussed the op, when would I like it? I picked a day a few weeks hence that would be convenient to me and went in as a day patient.

Nice room, flat screen TV, bathroom, clean, comfortable temperature, air conditioning instead of heat cranked up to the max to encourage MRSA. Mobile phone, no problem sir. Excellent food that smelt looked and tasted ok. Polite staff that treated you like a customer.

Job done, follow up appointment, Physio…

So that proves it is possible - Why can’t the NHS do it?

Anonymous said...

I think you should pack in smoking so much...

Anonymous said...

I don't know about Heart's cough, but mine is DEFINITELY caused by smoking thirty a day.

Can't argue with that.

Anonymous said...

bloody hell:~: good thing it's not lung cancer then!!

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of weird coughs going on last year. I had one that lasted 8 months... I got it mostly gone but I still suffer from some after effects!

Anonymous said...

lord nazh, ok then I stand corrected. I had got the impression we do pretty good over here.