Sunday, June 5, 2011

Socialized Medicine....Ooooooooh! Bad!

My Darling In-Laws!

So my Mom canceled her surgery. Kind of behind my back, too. She did it when I went off to Atlanta for a friend's wedding. She's very, very afraid of scarring, since she has a tendency to form keloids. Keloids across joints can be disastrous. Of course, not being able to move her finger much at present isn't too good either. I'm not sure what we'll be doing with that. She's seeing an acupuncturist, who told her they can reduce the swelling from her synovial fluid filled cyst/tumor. I'm unconvinced. Well, highly skeptical, at a minimum.

On a brighter note, we potentially have identified a new doctor. It was through the wonderful system called "pulling strings" and "calling in favors". We got the name of several people from wonderful friends and several converged on a gerontologist on the faculty of the Medical School at UM. I've never been so grateful of my husband's present job as I am now. We're trying to get that appointment scheduled tomorrow. But it's been something of a struggle to find a doctor who was taking patients and who came recommended. So imagine my amazement when my husband called his parents in Spain yesterday and I heard this little tale of terror about their social security health experience. Man that socialized medicine is scary stuff, let me tell you. 

Okay, to set the tone, you need scary theme music, 'Kay?

My father-in-law (who is every bit as merry and mischievous as he looks in that photo above) wasn't feeling well at the end of last week. He's 84 years old and has had some health problems in recent years, but over all the guy is as healthy as the proverbial horse. On Friday morning, he was really feeling ill, was feverish, and in general was giving my mother-in-law something to worry about. Since she doesn't drive, and he was not well enough to drive, she called a general assistance number for a doctor to come visit on Friday in the morning. Mind you, they were not in the capital, Madrid, but were in their little apartment in a suburb of  Alicante called Playa de San Juan, where they spend the summer, and often part of the winter, to avoid the intense heat or intense cold of those seasons in Madrid. She called for a house visit? Oh, come on! When is the doctor going to show up, in November? Well, a few hours later, the doctor arrived and after doing a fairly thorough exam decided that really, my father-in-law should go to the ER for further testing. *Groan* you say, I say, we all say... how on earth is he going to get there? The whole point was that my MIL doesn't drive! Well, they had a solution for that. Yep, the ambulance the doctor called arrived a short time later and took them to the nearest hospital, where my FIL was indeed examined further. After some routine testing, they decided he probably has a urinary tract infection. He was prescribed medication and they dispensed it right there at the hospital. But, when he was being released four (oh my gosh, so long!) hours after he arrived, they discovered that my MIL couldn't drive and they needed assistance getting home. So the hospital called the ambulance guys back and had them take them home. Total cost to the in-laws: $0.00. Yep, free care under social security and socialized medicine. I shudder, and I do mean shudder to imagine how much the entire enterprise would have cost here in the US. If you could even get a doctor to make a house call and decide you were sick enough to need to go to an ER. But can you imagine the getting home part? Call a cab, Lady!

My FIL is feeling much better today. They're going to Madrid tomorrow on the AVE. (Rapid train) But just to go to some other appointments and file their tax return and stuff. Then they'll head back to Alicante for the summer. It's much cooler than Madrid. I'm just glad that he'll be better and that the healthcare is as good as when they're home in Madrid. Because if Seattle seems far from home, all points Spain seem even farther somehow.

© Bright Nepenthe, 2011

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