Thursday, April 2, 2009

Being Sick In The UK

Much of the last two weeks has been a blur and not terribly exciting. The main reason for that is, I've been sick! I had come prepared for what hoops I may need to jump through to get registered with a local doctor, but of course it couldn't go smoothly...

I arrived on 8 March, and on the 12th, went to Nid's GP (walking distance from the house). They gave me an "application" form and made a copy of my passport and US drivers license. Then they wanted proof of where I was living. We had already called the utilities to get my name put on bills so I could get added to his bank account, but it would be weeks potentially before anything came in the mail. I told them that. I also showed them on the visa where it lists my husbands name (he's in their system) as my spouse, so of course we lived at the same location. They told me to bring a copy of my marriage certificate and gave me a slip of paper with their info on it and said to call in 10 days to find out if I had been approved as a patient. I returned with the marriage cert the next business day and they made a copy of that.

The next week, I started getting a sore throat, which I assumed was normal adjusting to a new climate things, so I let it go. On the 18th my lymph nodes in my neck started swelling and it hurt to swallow and I was achy. I knew I still had a week to hear back from the GP, so I got OTC cold and flu meds which helped the aches but not the throat. On the 10th day, I woke up in the middle of the night with excruciating ear pain. I waited until the office opened, and called. I explained that I was told to call and she said no, I had to wait until they called me. I said I was sick, and she said I still had to wait to get approved before I could make an appointment. I called the NHS direct, who said that if I didn't get better in 4 days, to seek emergency care, or before then if it got worse.

For 4 days I was miserable. More miserable than I had been. Then Nid calls the GP upset and they said that I was advised incorrectly. I was instructed to come up and fill in a form (not medically related, it was all about religion) and then return home and wait for a doctor to call me. Two hours later he did and told me to come in in 45 minutes. I did, he gave me antibiotics, and sent me on my way. Later in the day, a nurse called to tell me I have a new patient exam at the end of April.

The good news is I finally got treated. The bad news is, it's been 4 days ad I am barely better, and it is 5:50 am and here I am because I can't sleep AGAIN!

And FYI, I did not get an exam with this visit. A quick peek in my ear and throat, and I was outta there. No temp taken, no blood pressure.. although they did ask me if I had a fever... I didn't know, of course.. Now I've got more symptoms, including an entire head full of junk that I can't get out! I can barely hear out of both ears... and I cannot sleep!

So, that's the good and bad of my National Health care experience. Sure, it's FREE, but they don't HAVE to see you... And yes I could have gone to the emergency room, but they are notorious for having crazy 8-10 hour waiting times. It really was a no win situation :(


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