I totally ruined Phil’s birthday this weekend. I didn’t mean to, of course – I may not be the best partner in the world, but I do try. We had steaks and sparkly wine and I had a pile of lovingly, though ineptly-wrapped, presents waiting.
And then, in the wee hours on Friday morning, I woke with terrible stomach pains. All that day they got worse and I was a bit frantic when Phil got home that night. After a metric buttload of ibuprophen it still hurt. On Saturday, the morning of his birthday, I was even more ill and so we went to the local minor injuries unit to see a doctor. From there we went to the surgical assessment unit at the big hospital in our area. And finally at 10:00 that night after a day with an infected gallbladder I finally got painkillers. Ten. Long. Hours.
I always said that I would never complain about the NHS because, well, as creaky and inefficient as it is, it’s there. It’s free. It’s medical care that I would have been unable to afford in the States. But lord, the bureaucracy, wait and sheer waste involved! The nurses and techs were great, very warm and efficient with all of the blood tests, scans and so on. It was the wait for a doctor that took so long. They knew I had gallstones and an inflamed gallbladder, but a doctor needed to sign off on it before I could be given anything. At shift change that night a new doctor came on and went like a whirlwind through all of the surgery assessment patients and authorised a veritable armload of various painkillers, anti-spasm medication and antibiotics. I wanted to burst into tears when it was finally all done. Ten hours with that kind of pain isn’t something that you would wish on your worst enemy.
Ok, that’s a lie…I can think of a couple of people who I would wish that on, but no one else.
Day two was spent waiting for the results of another blood test, as they were concerned about a systemic infection. An ultrasound and the bloods were done in the morning and then I waited. And waited. I finally left (after threatening to discharge myself) at about six pm that night. They couldn’t find a doctor to look at the results. Seriously?
As some of you know there are other health issues that I’m undergoing various scans and tests for, which is taking ages. And you know what? If it turns out to be worst-case-scenario results, I don’t think I have any chance whatsoever in resolving it with this type of system. The UK has the worst cancer survival rates in all of Europe, mainly due to very little preventative care and the difficulty in actually getting the screens and care in the early stages.
On my last scan the tech said “Well, I can’t actually see the ovaries on the scan due to the tumours in the uterus, but if you have a problem there it starts to displace bowel and I’m not seeing any of that,” like that statement was supposed to make me feel better. I was all “Well, if we wait until it can be seen from the FREAKING SPACE STATION, I guess I can diagnose myself!” (I admit that I am not a nice or a polite person when in pain or scared.)
I love the NHS. It’s worth the tax that we all pay, as no human being should ever have to go without proper medical care (as happens in the States). It’s a wonderful institution, but it just needs to be better. Less middle management, less bureaucracy, more doctors, better care. No one should be forced to drink water from a flower vase because they cannot get a glass of water from a nurse. Brits are a nation of pet lovers, and they wouldn’t leave an animal in pain all day as I was. Humans shouldn’t be treated any worse.