Category Archives: National Healthcare

My Fake British Accent Isn’t All Bad

So, I have another very good reason for quasi-abandoning my blog lately.

(Besides playing Santa AND holiday hostess this past week…)

The last few weeks, my laptop has been infected with a heinous virus and it’s called…

MIKE.

The power supply on his computer fizzled out or some such and now, he’s on my “evil Microsoft” laptop no less than every second of every day since.

Apparently, my Linux-loving hubby will and HAS set aside his lofty morals in the name of FAIL blog and/or Digg

With my family in town and only ONE working computer among us, I’ve been sharing my laptop with SIX Internet addicted people.

Last week, Mike called around town for the replacement part for his computer. Only one of the bi-zillion techie shops off Tottenham Court claimed to have it stock and even called back to double confirm the serial number.

Of course, when Mike arrived pick it up the next day, they didn’t have it. They never did. Apparently, the sales guy only PRETENDED to know what Mike was asking for…

Uhhh, I guess, they didn’t think he would actually show up for the exact item he specifically requested to be set aside…

Thank goodness Mike is a much better person than me. MUCH BETTER. If I had been the one to make the 45 minute commute in early morning rush hour to be there as soon as the store opened for business only to be denied, I would have been beyond “call security”…

Meanwhile, Avery and I were running late for his appointment with the asthma specialist. We’ve waited over THREE months for this appointment, ever since his first asthma attack  in August, and there was no way we were going to miss it.

I called the hospital to inform them that we may be a few minutes behind for our 9:05 appointment with Dr. S. The nurse or whoever answered said it was perfectly fine and just come in when we were ready.

We actually weren’t late at all, but it didn’t matter since Dr. S was NOT even there that day!

“What? Why were we not told this when we called earlier? I had specifically stated that we’re coming to see Dr. S? I even asked about him BY NAME,” I asked

After several rounds with the useless drones in the ironically named “patient services” department, their best explanation for the “mix up” was that I had only asked if it was okay to be late, NOT if the doctor was in today….

Oh, and they had moved our appointment to the day before when Dr. S was in, but didn’t bother to tell US about it. I guess I was supposed to just know that…Lovely!

Whether it’s dealing with National Healthcare or a total lack of  common sense customer service, I find myself  less and less tolerant of these daily frustrations as our departure date looms closer.

12 days and counting!

Sure, when I thought we’d be here for a while, I was willing to put up with it… slightly. Just another quirky adventure from our life in London — good for a blog post, great for a laugh… HA! HA! HA!

Obviously turning into a loud angry American doesn’t help matters. Apparently, my accent is hard to follow… or perhaps it’s the high-pitched, inaudible rants of frustration. Hmm…

What does seem to help, however,  is my fake British accent. Bust it out and only then do I finally get somewhere.

(That is, if you call rounds of NHS Twenty Questions “getting somewhere”…)

Yes. You read that correctly. Fake. British. Accent.

It’s not even a good one like… say, Gwyneth Paltrow’s. It’s more like… well, the puppets from  CBeebies’ “The Shiny Show“…

It was never even intended for public consumption, but one day it just came out during another (yet unblogged about ) incident with National Healthcare (there are lots of them) and it worked brilliantly in getting to a speedy resolution!

In fact, it even prompted some rare compassion.

“Oh my, I do understand. You poor dear. You must be so upset. Let’s get this sorted for you right away… will this afternoon work for you?”

For some reason, fake British accent works every single time. Strange, I know, but it makes me laugh so much that I totally  forget how much  angrier (and rantier) I would be otherwise.

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Filed under Daily Life, Misconceptions and Mishaps, National Healthcare

Do You Have An Abortion Quota or Is This Just Prenatal Care in the UK?

I think it’s so obnoxious strange when people ask if a pregnancy was “planned” or “expected”, especially since we all know where babies come from… ahem! ahem!

Oh no! How ever could this have happened… eek!

Planned or unplanned, we are no less THRILLED about the it and that’s all there is to know.

However, it did take a few weeks for the news to sink in. I still have moments of denial now and again, but I still managed to book an appointment with my GP (i.e. general care family doc) nonetheless…

In the UK, you go to your GP for everything from a heart attack to the flu to wart removal…

He or she then grants you access to a specialist, but only if you really, really need it and ONLY after the proper paperwork has been filled out, faxed, and you wait the 8-12 weeks for someone to ring you (you do NOT call them) for an appointment…

Oh and by the way, OB/GYNs and pediatricians are considered specialists rather than primary care in the UK, so my appointment with the GP was merely a formality.

Granted we’re only four weeks and counting away from moving back to the US , but I thought I’d try for a referral to a “specialist” anyway. You never know, right?

Still, I was very excited about my appointment. Surely there would be another test to confirm the pregnancy, a prescription for some prenatal vitamins, an official DUE DATE…

Nope!

Upon telling the doctor my very good reason for walking 30 minutes in the London winter followed by another 30 minutes of sitting in the nasty waiting room, her first question was, “Are you okay with that? I mean, are you happy about it?”

Stunned, I said, “Of course I am.”

“Well, you don’t seem very happy. Are you sure you’re not wanting to terminate the pregnancy?”

“Uhhh….NO! We very much want this baby.”

“Okay. Are you sure?”

“Positive.”

“Really?”

“YES!”

I’m not exactly sure what level of enthusiasm I wasn’t registering here. I’m generally a happy person anyway, but not exactly prone to cartwheels and high kicks…

Perhaps it’s because I knew this appointment was a TOTAL waste of my time… hmmm.

Next, she guessed at my due date by counting to nine on her fingers, which I could have done (and HAD done) only a million times on my own.

After several tries, she figured that I was seven weeks along at that point, even though I was only about five based on an actual calendar…

When I asked about prenatal vitamins, she told me I would only need them in the first trimester and since I was already halfway though it (which I wasn’t), I really shouldn’t worry about it anymore… Eh! who cares?!

Oh and I saved the BEST part for last…

While discussing my medical history, I mentioned that I already have son and added that he’ll be three years old when the baby is born.

She looked up, tilted her head “compassionately” and said, “Well… you know, you can’t always plan these things. Sometimes we just get surprised, but I’m sure you’ll do fine. At least you still have your options.”

What? Seriously, WHAT? !

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Filed under Family, National Healthcare

An International Healthcare Plan

You knew it was only a matter of time before I posted about National Healthcare…

(My American readers may know it as “free healthcare”, although anyone paying taxes in the UK knows it’s anything but… )

We had our first encounter with it last weekend when we took Avery to the A&E (emergency room). He was coughing and congested throughout the day, but started wheezing heavily towards the evening.

Having had a very bad asthma attack prior to leaving the States, we didn’t want to take any chances of him getting worse thorough the night and our GP’s (doctors’) office was, of course, closed.

Other than the cold that triggered the whole mess, he wasn’t in terrible shape. He certainly had plenty of energy (and toddler attitude) to be a total maniac the whole day, but we went anyway as a precaution.

One of my favorite blogs, Stuff White People Like, did a great post about National Healthcare (#94) earlier this year which nicely summed up my feelings towards socialized medicine…

If you need to impress a white person, merely mention how you got hurt on a recent trip Canada/England/Sweden and though you were a foreigner you received excellent and free health care…

Though their passion for national health care runs deep, it is important to remember that white people are most in favor of it when they are healthy. They love the idea of everyone having equal access to the resources that will keep them alive, that is until they have to wait in line for an MRI.

This is very similar to the way that white people express their support for public schools when they don’t have children.

Given that it was the Sunday prior to a national bank holiday in a country that pretty much closes shop at 4:45 in the afternoon, I did NOT have highest of expectations. Especially since Avery wasn’t “critical” when we arrived.

I imagined a long night and a long line at a grubby waiting room, GERMS, surly staff, and quick turnover…

I’m talkin’ BLEAK!

Instead, we were seen right way in a separate children’s ward. The nurses and doctors were extremely attentive and friendly, even taking the time to look up the American brand names for the generic meds in order to “speak our language”.

When Avery’s condition didn’t improve, we were given the option to stay overnight and the following day for continued care and observation. Mike and I were fine with that, however the doctor had his reservations about sending us to a room in the hospital.

As he put it, “It’s probably not anything like what you’re use to in the States…”

There is very little here that is, but the hospital turned out to be just fine. It was clean and tidy, only a bit dated (like most of London, so historical, maybe?) We even managed to finagle a pleasant little private room across the hall from the playroom.

Hanging around a hospital all day is certainly not my idea of a good time, but the “ward hostess” kept us in tea and biscuits and plenty entertained throughout our stay. Avery improved rapidly and we were all home by supper.

He’s still doing great today, except for the cold which they couldn’t do anything about anyway…

Overall, we really can’t complain. The care and medications Avery received were indeed excellent and all without the hassle of dealing with insurance…

However, you have to understand, Mike and I have unusually high expectations when it comes to medicine. It comes from having immediate access to the very best healthcare in the world. Family.

A sniffle, a headache, a cough… my mom, a pediatrician, would race right over with a stethoscope in one hand and a bag of antibiotics in the other. She’d be there even faster if it was for Avery.

Mike’s dad and brother (both excellent and brilliant surgeons) were a mere phone call away. If we ever need their help, I know they wouldn’t hesitate to hop in the car/take the first flight to get to us.

In fact, Mike’s dad personally removed my wisdom teeth shortly before Mike accepted the job in England.

They are all still a phone call/plane ride away, but being halfway around the globe makes things a bit more difficult.

Because of the time difference, I emailed, instead of called, my mom with the weekend’s play-by-play. She and my dad were on the phone for an immediate consult as soon as they read it… six hours later.

It’s not quite the 45-minute driving distance she used to be to us (or even the three hours to Mike’s dad), but it’s comforting to know that they’re still there for us no matter where we live.

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Filed under Family, National Healthcare