Laughter is the Best Medicine – but Antibiotics are a Close Second

*waves* Hi all. Jeremy here.

I’ve always had an interesting relationship with the medical profession. For my entire childhood, and then through a good portion of my adult life, I never had the experience of paying huge sums of money for visiting the doctor. My parents had good insurance growing up, and as an adult, I had a decent college medical plan, or a doctor willing to help us poor, starving seminary students. But there was still the insurance premiums. Every month, I’d chuck a few hundred bucks at a company that never seemed to give me anything back – even on the occasions where I did need to foot a bill from the hospital (here’s looking at you, That One Time I Thought I had Appendicitis and Went to the ER).

So when we moved to England, one of the things my wife and I were both excited about, and nervous about, was the prospect of the healthcare system.
As a uni student, I registered all four of us at the university’s medical centre. Thankfully, we managed to go nearly two months without needing to actually take advantage of their services. But M – a serial thumb sucker – started to look both red and swollen in the thumb region, so we took her in to get it checked out. The appointment was on time, quick, efficient, and informative. I felt like they were trying to get us in and out as quickly as possible, but not in a bad way – they were definitely willing to stop and answer any questions we had. They prescribed M some antibiotics and told us to come back by the end of the week for a follow-up.
Well, she still wasn’t looking great by the time of the follow-up. The redness seemed to have gone down, but she’d developed a significant blister on the front of her thumb. So, they sent us to the local hospital to see a pediatrician. Let me tell you friends, there’s a significant difference in your life when you don’t have a car. The public transit has, so far, been very good, but it still takes what would be a ten-minute drive into a 40-minute journey. That time cost adds up. Why, I’d probably be done with at least 3 of my chapters if it hadn’t been for all that walking*!
The hospital was nice as well – the wait was longer, but they serve a wider collection of folks, so that makes sense. One thing I noticed is that both the waiting room and the doctors’ offices all had toys in them, which was a big help with the kiddos. The pediatricians said to keep giving her antibiotics, that she should see a dermatologist after the weekend, and to go to the A&E if she suddenly got worse. Turns out the A&E is the UK equivalent of an ER.
Well, lo and behold, Sunday morning she wakes up with numerous spots all over her hands, feet, and knees. So, we walk to the train, which we take the nearest town that has an A&E. After another fairly significant wait (again, very understandable), they told us her spots were likely a byproduct of her antibiotics, or a sign of allergies – either way, nothing significant to worry about. They gave us some new antibiotics and sent us home.
That brings us to yesterday – which, I’ll admit, was the only frustrating experience with the docs so far. They scheduled us for 11. Then, that morning, they called and asked if we could reschedule for 1. OK, no big deal. So we show up at 12:50 and… wait. Until 1:30, because that’s when the dermatologist shows up. And the dermatologist didn’t believe me when I told them M had an infection. Which, on the one hand, is a good sign – it seems to indicate that the antibiotics are working. But it was still rather frustrating to hear, in a disbelieving tone, “Who told you she had an infection?” Um… the doctors who also work here?
Oh well. Overall, our initial foray into the world of the NHS has been very positive.
4.5/5 Would Get Sick Again
*ok not really

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