What I think:
Happy New Year. May 2010 bring you lots of attractive things with elaborate frilly edges and modern, but artistically understated, motifs.
With the continued hub-bub about so-called "socialized" (UK: socialised) healthcare in the US, I thought I'd share my recent nightmarish experience here in Sweden.
I have since heard from others that more should have been done - maybe an X-ray to confirm her diagnosis, and possibly some kind of brace. At least a pair of crutches would have been nice.
In any case, time went by, and my foot eventually healed. I would get occasional discomfort, but nothing severe or long-lasting. Until about six weeks ago. I started getting pain again, and it seemed to be here to stay - and it was getting progressively worse. I've developed a bit of a limp; if I walk how I'm naturally supposed to, I'm in pain, so I often walk on the outer side of my foot. I look like a little criminal.
So, yesterday, I decided to do something about it. This is where my nightmare begins.
At about a quarter-past two, I rang a clinic here in Malmö, to see if I could arrange an appointment. I waited in the queue for five long minutes before I was answered. When I finally got through, I asked the lady on the line if she spoke English (contrary to popular belief, not everyone in Sweden speaks English). She said that she did.
This lady was annoyingly friendly on the phone. When I started explaining my problem, she interrupted me to ask me for my Personnummer (person number - Sweden's social security number). The rest of the conversation went like this:
Her: "I see you're registered in Stattena [an area of Helsingborg]."
Me: "Yes, I moved to Malmö in March."
Her: "Ah. Well you'll have to register here before we see you."
Me: "OK, so should I come in and fill in a form, and make an appointment after that?"
Her: "Well, what's your problem, exactly?"
I gave her a brief version of the story, and told her that I'm now pretty much in constant pain when I walk. Then she said, "Well, there's an appointment slot open for three o'clock."
Me: "That's in about half an hour!"
Her: "Yes. Just ask for the registration form when you get to reception."
I had been looking forward to a nice long wait of at least a few weeks to relish my delicious agony a while longer, but in one fell swoop, she completely ruined it. The nerve of that irritatingly polite woman.
About fifteen minutes minutes later, I got on my bike and cycled to the clinic (the first time I ever cycled when there was snow on the ground - it's pretty common here; looky here ->). I got there at about five-to, and checked in at reception.
I was given a very long and complicated form to fill in. It required all of the following information:
- My name (first and last),
- My address, including my post code,
- My Personnummer - all twelve digits, with a dash after the eighth digit (how complicated is that!?)
- Then I had to spend time writing down my signature (something that takes so much focus and concentration that my tongue automatically sticks out the side of my mouth), and the date (do I look like a calendar, or what?).
I just wanted someone to look at my foot; I didn't expect all this bureaucracy. Jeez.
I handed in the form, and then I had to pay for my visit. I was charged 200 Kronor (about US$28.30 / CAN$29.20 / UK £17.65 / €19.65)!! Highway robbery, or what!?
I sat in the waiting room for almost ten whole minutes before the doctor came to get me. He shook my hand and introduced himself as "Eric". Umm... Eric? That didn't sound very professional to me.
In the examination room, Eric asked me loads of boringly relevant questions in an aggravatingly affable manner. He looked at my foot, pressed around a bit, and said that if it happened 15 months ago, the bones will definitely have healed. But he was a bit surprised that an X-ray wasn't taken at the time, just to double-check that it wasn't more serious.
He said he suspected that a nerve was irritated, and that I should try using a padded insert in my boot (available from any sports store), to take the weight off the troubled area. He also prescribed a two-week course of anti-inflammatory tablets, and booked an X-ray for me, so that my problem would be properly documented, just in case I need to go down the route of orthopedic surgery later on. It was an open booking, meaning that I could go for my X-ray any time they're open, at my convenience. Well, that's something good, at least.
Eric said that I should let him know how things go after a few weeks. OK.
I went to the Apoteket nearby to get my prescription of anti-inflammatory tablets. I handed over my Swedish ID, and the cheerful woman behind the desk tapped in my Personnummer and got my prescription from the online system. Paper prescriptions are quickly becoming obsolete here in Sweden (if they still exist at all). My pills cost me a whopping 160 Kronor (about US$22.60 / CAN$23.35 / UK £14.10 / €15.70)! This was costing me a fortune. I went to a sports store (something I would never normally do), and asked for a "pelotte", which is the little pad I was supposed to put in my boot. I'd never heard of it, but they knew exactly what it was. There goes another 100 Kronor (about US$14.15 / CAN$14.60 / UK £8.85 / €9.80).
I got home, placed my pelotte, popped my pill, and pondered my plight. Since the time I picked up the phone, I'd wasted a total of two whole hours of my life, and spent a gigantic 440 Kronor (about US$62.25 / CAN$64.20 / UK £38.85 / €43.20), just to get something done about my foot.
I think it's totally unacceptable that this type of thing is allowed to happen in any society. More should be done to warn innocent people of the dangers that Rock 'n' Roll can bring to their feet, especially in this day and age. It's time that the Swedish government did something about it. That's what I think.
Labels: foot, healthcare, medical, metatarsal