It feels as if I have been MIA here for a while, when, in fact it has just been a couple of days. What I thought was a simple case of sun stroke seemed to drag on with symptoms of dizziness, nausea, weakness, chills and sweats for a couple of weeks. Finally I gave in, realizing I had misdiagnosed myself, and visited a doctor. When he saw very high blood pressure readings as well as my other presenting symptoms, he insisted I go to the hospital.
I was admitted to the hospital for observation and had many tests done - CAT-scan, ultra-sound, electrocardiogram, blood tests - the works - and am happy to report that all is well. I was relieved to learn that the symptoms are not signs of any underlying serious illness.
During the day of tests, they re-hydrated me, added some potassium to compensate for surprisingly low levels, and I left at the end of the day with some good advice and a couple of prescriptions from a thorough Doctor. Phew ... I am already feeling much better.
For my dear American friends who live in a country where illness requires a very large bank account or fund drives by concerned neighbors to raise money to pay for tests and treatments, I would like to use this experience to give you a glimpse of what it is like to benefit from universal health care. The main thing is that not once did I ever have to think about money or insurance when visiting the doctor or having tests in the hospital. I walked into both places and presented my government issued health card. That's it. That's all.
- no one inquires about my insurance carrier and what my insurance policy will cover
- no one verifies my ability to pay if I have no insurance
- no one asks if I think I can afford an expensive test
- no one has to deny themselves adequate health care because they cannot afford it
Yes, with the aging baby-boomer generation hospitals here are overcrowded. And yet, the biggest wait I had, was when I first arrived. I waited three hours after triage, to see the doctor. When everything is covered, I am never going to complain about a three hour wait. Of course, if I had been in need of immediate attention, I would have been triaged higher on the list and received the attention I needed.
After seeing the doctor, I was assigned a bed in an observation ward and from there I had orderlies buzzing me around to all the different departments in the hospital for various tests. My husband had to leave for a while to attend to business and I asked how he would ever find me when he returned - being moved to so many different departments. I was informed that he just has to ask at the desk because all the movements throughout the hospital of each patient are tracked by computer.
I could not have anything to eat until the tests were completed. Five minutes after arriving back in the observation ward after the tests, a small lunch arrived designed for an irritated nauseous stomach. I could not believe the timing. I was informed that using the computer to track the location and immediate needs of the patient accounts for the good attention.
Once while having chills, an orderly walking by asked if I would like a blanket and came back in seconds not only with a blanket, but one that must have come out of a warming drawer. It was so warm and comforting. It felt like I was in a luxury hotel - well, sort of ...
I never had to wait on my gurney for more than ten minutes when wheeled to the various departments for tests. Both periods of more lengthy waiting that I experienced, were waiting for the doctor. Other than that, I couldn't believe how well organized everything was. Perhaps other people have horror stories about their hospital experiences. Both this time and when I had a little operation for my broken arm last October, I was amazed by the efficiency, speed, attention to detail and kindness with which I was treated. Not once did I ever have to think about cost - it does not even enter one's mind and eliminates much unneeded stress. Yes, we do pay for this care in our taxes - and, to my mind, it is worth every extra penny.
I hope one day those in your country opposed to free, universal health care for all will soften their hearts, and begin to think first of the citizens rather than the corporations for which so many of them lobby. I feel so sad when I hear politicians try to convince many of the very people who so desperately need government with a social conscience, that they should vote for no government involvement in their lives, no increase in taxes and always insist on lower government spending. (These ideals seem to apply to the population and not to wars - which, of course, boost the economy.)
A moral and social conscience requires that we care about the well-being of our neighbors and that we be willing to extend ourselves on their behalf. I'm so glad to live in a country with such universal, social sensibilities.