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Sunday, 13 May 2012

Doctor, Doctor, is there a doctor in the house.

Just like my new doctor only mine was bald.
I like them bald...

 So, the time finally arrived when I needed to investigate the Dutch medical system. I’d been putting it off for a number of reasons.

Chiefly because, to investigate any medical system first you need to be ill, or in pain which in my experience is usually a thoroughly unpleasant business. 

The second is of course, the language barrier, I feel like such a twit every time I reel of my little Dutch patter: I’m sorry I don’t speak Dutch so well… And I’m vulnerable enough speaking to a Doctor I don’t need to feel like a twit as well.

The third and perhaps most honest reason I’ve personally avoided a trip to the doctor is –that in my past life I was a serial hypochondriac (before Mr Sunshine’s time). A visit to a Doctors surgery for me is like putting a recovering alcoholic in a pub, it’s just too tempting.  All those posters and leaflets pointing out inspiring symptoms, the possibilities were endless. 

So real it scares me..
My problem is that hypochondria is not something you can ever fully recover from, but in time it has to fade. You see, there are only so many imaginary illnesses you can inflict on your body. I know, I’ve had most of them. I’ve had several fictional brain tumours, I’ve been strapped to heart monitors straining to detect my fantasy heart attacks, I’ve had severe arthritis, numerous lumps, bumps, thrombosis, measles and itching eyelashes(if you search on the internet you can and will connect itching eyelashes to one or two nice diseases). All of these imaginary diseases did unsurprisingly, get better on the day of my Doctors appointment. I’ve had lumps, hang around for weeks, grow during the 6 day wait for the doctor’s appointment and then miraculously disappear in the waiting room.

My rather intimate knowledge of medical establishments taught me a few important lessons:
1.       There is nothing wrong with me (physically).
2.       Most things will go away if left alone.
3.       My own immune system is more effective than antibiotics.
4.   Worrying about myself is both pointless and boring.

My avoidance of the local Doctor's eventually failed, when pushed by Mr Sunshine I finally admitted I’d been in pain for five months. Not any kind of interesting pain, just foot hurting, painful walking type of pain.

The shocks started early. The friendly, polite receptionist, in fluent English made my appointment for 9.20 am the following day. The Doctor came to greet me in reception, shook my hand and made polite conversation (in English) on the long walk to his treatment room. This room was the size of our apartment, full of expensive looking equipment and modern art. The good looking male doctor, spent ten minutes examining my moist foot, which I’d only just managed to dry with the back of my sock. Then had me roll up my jeans (how I wish I’d shaved my legs) and walk. I was almost embarrassed by the thoroughness of his examination.

I left his surgery clutching a letter introducing me to a podiatry centre. Surely it would take weeks to get an appointment there. Nope, just a few days and an apology for the few days wait.

Its the little white bugger in the middle that's broken on my foot
It’s very hard when you experience this kind of service, not to reflect on the difference between the Dutch and the British medical care. It’s true we have to pay for medical insurance here, but we still did in the UK, just not so obviously.  If you are seriously ill or injured the UK is a great place to be.  But anything else, well, you’re just wasting the doctor’s time. Here, you’re a customer first, if you turn up with a problem the doctor assumes you need it fixing and not that you’re wasting his time.

I’m not sure if you can tell, but I’m impressed with the medical service here.

Something else, that’s been impressed on me this week is how lucky I am with my friends. Something tells me I must have been a very good person in a past life.

The kindness and support I’ve received through the medium of Facebook from friends back home this week, has left me feeling privileged to know such generous hearted individuals.  And I know I’ve said this before, but the friends we’ve made since we’ve been here, have made the sometimes rocky road of an expat so much more bearable.  This week, I was on the receiving end of some very kind words, from three separate friends; I might not have looked impressed at the time, but that's only because I’m not good with compliments, I don’t know what to say or how to react. Instead of saying thank you, I panicked and quickly changed the subject. When what I was actually doing was, wrapping these compliments up in gold leaf and placing them in my heart for safekeeping.

Precious words

Okay enough with the soppiness, Mr Sunshine will think I’m losing my mind and call the doctor.


1 comment:

  1. soft arse!!

    Doctors here are great, but the customer is always right thing only goes so far, they do assume you are ill, because people don't normally go see them if they are not.
    Try turning up with a bump or bruise, or cold or flu that they know you can treat yourself with some asprin and bed rest..
    They'll send you home with such a look of "why are you wasting my time, I could be dealing with really sick people", that you'll find its a perfect cure for hypochondria!!


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