Tag Archives: healthcare

Stick this up your…….vein!!

I am as pissed as hell and I am not going to hold back. Remember my post of two days ago? Kidney infection, long wait, blah blah.

I spent hours in the ER today because of that doctor. HOURS with needle sticks and plenty of poking and prodding and kidney thumping that hurt worse than birth, because of that jerk doctor.

I know it takes time for antibiotics to work. I know that. But by last night I was feeling much worse and the kidney pain had intensified and I was being nagged from all sides to go to the ER.

ER doc took a look at the prescription I was given and told me “no wonder you are not feeling better, this dose of antibiotic is supposed to be taken TWICE a day, and the doctor ordered it for only ONCE a day. You have not been getting enough antibiotic to start killing this infection.” WTH??

The good thing is they shot me up with a lovely antibiotic (gentromycin) that will jumpstart the healing process and gave me some good drugs to help with the pain. She said that by Saturday night / Sunday morning I should start to feel better. If idiot doc would have dosed me appropriately I could have already been feeling better and been able to cook for my family for Shabbat (and do the grocery shopping and laundry and cooking and clean the bombsite of a house).

I am fed up with the health”care” system here. Fed up of being sick and in pain. Fed up of being sick and in pain and far away from my KoD. Just. Plain. Fed. Up.

(All donations of chocolate graciously accepted!)

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Medical Rant

sickI am laid up in bed as I type this out, with a kidney infection. I have a fever, so if I ramble on we shall just blame it on that, not on my usual verbal diarrhea.

I was a little worried that something sinister was going on, but my symptoms were so vague initially that I just ignored it. That plus being in NY with no health insurance. If I was seriously sick I would have ponied up the money for a doctor visit. But the vague symptoms just didn’t seem to warrant it. Leaving Monsey on Monday morning, my back was aching and I was feeling off. I chalked it up to the sadness of leaving my KoD and a night spent tossing and turning and not sleeping.

By the time I got to Montreal 6 hours later, I had a raging fever and my back and right flank were throbbing away. By evening I was throwing up and had a blinding headache.

Monday was Thanksgiving here in Canada, so most clinics were closed, and I really didn’t want to shlepp to the ER. I decided that I would go Tuesday morning to the walk-in clinic that I usually go to.

I arrived there at 8.45 am and was straight away called to the triage nurse. She asked my why I was there, and sent me straight away to the lab to do tests. She did NOT measure my blood pressure nor take my temperature or pulse. Didn’t ask me anything she should have – are you pregnant, taking medication, allergic to medication….nada.

I went to the back, paid for the testing, did what I needed to do and by 9.30 was back in the waiting room.

The waiting room was full to overflowing. When I had checked in I asked the receptionist how long it would be, she said a couple of hours.

At 10.45 am they called my name and took me to the treatment room. The longest I had ever waited in the treatment room was 15 minutes. At the walk-in clinic they have one doctor just for walk-ins, 3 treatment rooms. It’s all he does, so it should move pretty fast. Of course it rarely does.

After a half hour I hear a commotion out in the hall. Someone needed urgent medical attention, the Urgences Sante people were there (paramedics). So I figured that I would have to wait just a little longer. After another 15 minutes I spoke to the office manager and she told me not to worry someone would be there soon. I started chatting with the people sitting outside of my treatment room. One of them had heard the secretaries talking – the walk-in clinic doc was off sick and the other doctors in the practice had to cover for him in between their scheduled patients. Um, if this was the case, why had they not told the patients? It for sure meant a longer wait – give us the choice to go somewhere else where we could be seen sooner. Of course there were more people registering to see a doc at the walk in clinic, and they were NOT being told that there was a probability of a 5 hour wait.

At 12.30 pm I went out again, and in front of the whole waiting room I asked the manager if there were ANY doctors actually working there today as I had been waiting, in pain, for hours in a treatment room with a post it note saying “premier” (first) on the door. Manager told me that I shouldn’t worry, a doctor would be with me shortly. I reminded her I had been told the same thing over an hour ago. She promised me 5 minutes, and I snorted. If I had not already spent almost 4 hours in the place I would have left. 5 minutes. Yeah. Right.

Within 10 minutes a doctor was hurrying into the treatment room. I expressed my displeasure politely. He agreed with me, telling me that THREE doctors were off sick. In any customer service business if you have 3 senior people off sick, you call in reinforcements so your business can continue. They didn’t do that here. This doc had scheduled patients to see, but came to see me because I raised a ruckus. Being a mouthy b!tch has its advantages sometimes….

The doctor gave me a thorough exam and took my temp and blood pressure, expressing dismay that the nurse hadn’t done it. I was surprised how verbal he was about the incompetence. He then told me that I had a kidney infection and explained the antibiotic regimen. He scared me – told me if I didn’t start to feel better soon and my fever didn’t start going down, then I would have to go to the ER for IV antibiotics.

So far I have had one dose of antibiotics and am feeling worse than I did yesterday. I am trying to drink a lot of water but not managing it. Fever is still present. Just hoping the antibiotics kick in soon. I want to avoid the ER. There are sick people there, you know.

Weird as it sounds, I am looking forward to being sick in the states – no such thing as waiting 4 hours to see one’s GP. Right?

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My experience with socialized medicine.

I grew up in the UK. I moved to Canada fifteen years ago. I have lived only in countries where socialized medicine is the norm, however I have had limited experience with the healthcare in the US of A.

As a young child living in south Wales, and as an older child living in NW London, I remember the doctor coming to the house to check on us when we had chicken pox or were ill with various childhood sicknesses. I remember going to the doctor’s surgery (as you say over here “doctor’s office”) for our vaccinations and getting a lollipop after. I don’t remember having to wait to see the doctor, but then I was a child. These things just didn’t occur to me to notice. There are family stories of sitting in waiting rooms and us kids making comments about the other people there, loudly, so we must have waited occasionally, but I really don’t recall it.

Under the NHS you didn’t really get to choose your own GP. Where you lived dictated your catchment area, and based on that, you were given a list of the nearest GPs who were accepting new patients. But doctors back then still made house calls, I am not sure if they still do. You had to call the emergency service, the nurse called you back, and you waited a few hours until the doctor came over. But at least if you were throwing up you didn’t have to sit in a waiting room of other people with their germs being breathed all over you, and breathing your germs over them. You were as comfortable as you could be in your own home.

If you needed to see a specialist you had to wait. Again I was a child, so I don’t remember how long, but I grew up knowing that if you didn’t want to wait to see a specialist on the NHS you could decided to go to Harley Street in London and see a doctor, privately, and pay through the nose for it. Going private was quick – but the damage to one’s wallet took a long time to heal. I had my wisdom teeth out privately – it cost me close to a thousand pounds, and this was 16 years ago.

My first real experience with NHS vs private healthcare was when I was 14 and unfortunately suffered from alopecia – my hair started to fall out. Imagine being a 14 year old girl and losing one’s hair!! Our GP was at a loss – if I remember correctly he just said it was stress and I should wait it out. My distress at losing my hair was so huge, that my mother decided to shlepp me to a specialist in Harley Street to get an expert paid opinion. He gave me a magic cream and the alopecia diagnosis, and helped us to feel better about the whole thing. His offices were luxurious, leather chairs facing the doctor. He took us into the office on time, and took time to listen to us. I remember his desk was more or less clear, and there was a relaxed atmosphere. A sharp contrast to the GP’s who are always rushed and barely have time for eye contact.

When I was 19 I had my first personal experience with the emergency room (called Casualty in UK) and surgery. It was Hoshanna Rabba and I woke up with a fever. I was sweaty and aching, vomiting, and my belly hurt really badly. We called the doctor who came over 4 hours later. He examined me, told us to go straight to the emergency room, he thought I had appendicitis. Once we got to the ER I was moved quickly into a cubicle as I could barely stand up straight. Once in that cubicle it took 6 hours for a doctor to arrive to check me out. Six hours of being in complete and utter agony and getting nothing for the pain because a doctor had to examine me first before anything could be prescribed for me.

It did go very quickly for me after that – I was whisked into surgery as Shemini Atzeret was starting, and don’t remember much till I woke up sans appendix. The nurses were very sweet, although the ward sister was so stereotypical – stern, and intimidating. I was at the Royal Free Hospital, which is a teaching hospital, so I was disturbed at least twice by medical students and their teachers. I cringed for the students who gave the wrong answers. They were publicly torn apart by the doctor in charge.

On Simchat Torah they decided I was well enough to go home. I explained to them that it was a Jewish Holiday for me, and I couldn’t go home until it was dark out. They said they needed my bed NOW and it was my choice whether I went home or not. I spent the remainder of the day in the Day Room where the TV was on, without pain meds. I had a prescription for the pain meds, but couldn’t fill it because I was still stuck in the hospital. The hospital’s lack of tolerance for my religious beliefs was terrible. Once they had officially discharged me there was no food for me either, and of course there was no way I could get food from the vending machines.

I guess you could say they did what they needed to do – they diagnosed the problem, they cut me open, removed the offensive appendix, closed me back up and sent me on my way. I healed fine (other than breaking my arm 9 days later, but that’s a story for a different day).

I moved to Canada a couple of years later. Their healthcare system is based on the NHS – no one has to have private insurance, but if you want to go private there is the option. I have become used to waiting 2 hours to see a doctor when I had an appointment. At a walk in clinic I expect to wait at least 3 hours, sometimes have waited 4. A friend of ours was told he needed a quintuple bypass – he waited 8 months for the surgery. He could have died in the interim! I needed an MRI for my back – the wait, if I waited for the hospital to give me an appointment, would have been 9 months. I was in agony – there was no way I could have waited 9 months. We paid the 600 dollars to have a private MRI done immediately. We had private insurance – we were lucky. Others who don’t have private insurance have to wait, in pain, until the hospital gets around to them.

The wait in Quebec to see a specialist is ridiculous. The ERs tend to be overcrowded because people cannot bear to wait 3 – 6 months to see a specialist so they show up at the ER prepared to wait a few hours just to be seen that way. It’s an abuse of the system.

When my son broke his leg we were told the wait in the ER would be six hours. They take patients according to the severity of their illness / injury, and it was a busy night. After 10 minutes of watching my child try valiantly not to complain but finally unable to hold back the copious tears, I muscled my way in to the nurses’ station and insisted that he be seen PDQ. They called us in 5 minutes later which was great for us, but means that someone else’s child ended up waiting longer than s/he should have. I had to advocate for my son – but if everyone tried to push in, bedlam would ensue.

Socialized medicine does work. When you need to see a doctor you can. If you cannot afford the medication there is a government program to help you with that. Every service is offered that you could possibly need medically – you just might have to wait for it. The hospitals are not in the best of conditions, and don’t always have the latest in technology. There is never enough money to go around and this leads to delays and cuts in service. But no system is a perfect system.

I don’t have enough experience yet with the US system to adequately compare, but I do have to say that it’s great not having to pay a co-pay every time I go to see the doctor in Canada, or every time the kids go. That can add up. The more I experience the US system, the more I will have to say on the subject. Stay tuned!

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