Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Free Willy

I did say I would share my experiences of finding a doctor, a dentist and hairdresser (In God We Trust). Well, here is the first of three. The first time I needed medical assistance over here is well told amongst friends and family. I had put off finding a doctor and a dentist. It seemed too over-whelming. It isn’t just a case of go to the nearest one. You have long lists of those ‘allowed’ on your medical plan. They each have different specialities. You have to choose who you want. It confused me so I didn’t bother. Then I was forced to!
My 5 year old son was messing with the zip of his swimsuit – a sort of Surf-cum-Victorian affair to protect his albino skin from 100 degrees plus. I had seen some of the American children laughing at it at the pool, with good reason as it turns out. I had barely got the words ‘stop that or it will end in tears’ out when we heard the blood curdling scream from the back of the car. The following silence was scarier. He was too terrified to move. His willy was well and truly stuck in the big chunky wetsuit style zip. After some tentative examination the only way to release him was to pull the zipper up more and it was going to be messy.
We found ‘Paediatrics Express’ – urgent care for children on the Internet. We didn’t know the routine. Cash first – questions later. We handed over the medical card and it seemed to take an eternity before she asked us what our deductables were. I was stressed so I should be forgiven for shouting ‘I don’t know what f**king deductables are and I don’t care - Please just attend to my son’s attachables’. My son was by now just whimpering occasionally in my arms when I moved too quickly. As it turned out they attended to him well once I got passed the admin – after applying some numbing cream, used to pierce ears, they pulled the zip up. The volume of screaming would suggest the cream didn’t work. Still, he has an impressive war wound to show the girlies when he is older. Unfortunately he is quite keen on showing it already! He did note only today that the hole in the middle never heals up....
I still hadn’t found a family doctor when the school were threatening to exclude the children as they were not vaccinated against Hepatitis B. We don’t routinely vaccinate children for this in the UK. It is associated with drug users and medical workers and contracted through dirty needles. Maybe they are preparing the children for their future use of drugs ‘in da hood’. They do a double whammy – My son brought his first ‘I am drug free’ poster home last week at the age of 5 as part of his drugs awareness education. If that early intervention doesn’t work at least he has his hepB shot.
After finding a Doctor I now know that first admin experience is usual. The level of care and where you attend depends on medical cover. The deductables are the amount you have to pay – a sort of excess. I tried to find a ‘family’ doctor rather than each have a different doctor but you have to get past the admin!!! The first receptionist said that I could attend but should take my children to a Paediatrician. I explained I wanted a family doctor to treat us all, as a 'unit'. She said that paediatricians use smaller needles!!! I left quickly. The second doctor’s receptionist said she would put a request in to see if the doctor would allow us to see him (rather than one of their well trained health care professionals – I think they meant glorified nurses) I left quickly.
I finally found what seems to be a normal doctor’s surgery – as I would expect at home, except that I have to flash the cash each time. The doctor was nice – spent time talking to me about his love of Scotland and only charged $210. Americans I meet are keen to talk to me about two things, Scotland and the NHS. They are terrified of the consequences of such a service being fully adopted in the USA. (Obama is still pushing ahead with it now)The ones who speak to me don’t want it. Paying for treatment fits in with their approach to things – a sort of survival of the fittest - you work hard you get what you want and if you don’t then you don’t get anything.
I have found the level of choice difficult. How do I know who is best to treat me for different illnesses. I want my doctor to tell me. I don’t want to take prescription drugs on the basis that I saw a good ad on TV for them (although to be fair the ads here are never good!). I want my doctor to choose on the basis that he was the one who went to medical school and should know. Once you get passed the paperwork and  have found a doctor the biggest thing is there are no queues if you can afford to pay. I guess that is exactly the same in the UK!

1 comment:

  1. I will never think of "free willy" in the same way again. I remember Charlie wanting to show me his willy on scype so i could see his war wound. When he's older he will be mortified to think that nanny had viewed his willy on camera (i may add i did stop him from showing me)