Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Back to Reality

One gentle reader expressed interest some time ago in my take on UK healthcare.  Using the NHS, England's socialized healthcare program, is a major learning curve for Americans living here for any length of time.  National healthcare is also a political issue back home at the moment, and I'd choose bog diving over political discussions any day.  In general, my impressions are very favorable thus far.  There are pitfalls to navigate, just as there are in the land of private insurance, but it is comforting not worrying about the bill or deductibles every time you darken the doctor's doorstep.  Pharmacies (or chemists) are much more helpful, I find, and can assist with everyday drugs that you'd have to have a doctor's prescription for in the States.  If you're a relatively healthy individual, I think it's excellent.

Should you find yourself in a medical office (surgery), here is my most valuable cultural lesson learned to date: do not pull the red string in the doctor's surgery loo, thinking it is the light switch.  Some bathrooms have pullcord light switches here, but following this instinct will lead to profound dissappointment.  The red string is actually the "I've fallen and I can't get up" alarm, and a crochety nurse will come stare at you, wondering which nearby village recently lost an idiot.  I knew better, as I have fallen victim to this trap while attending a wedding reception at a major UK military installation, but I got off easy with no uniformed guards rushing in to help burn the experience in my psyche.  My village has yet to report me missing.  But in my defense, how can one see it's red if it's pitch dark and you're afraid of falling into the toilet? 

I was most worried about my back while living here, and the experience I'd have if it ever decided to pack up again.  An old journalism professor of mine wrote an article that completely sums up how frustrating major back trauma can be.  I completed a round of physical therapy (physiotherapy) in the year before we moved, and two epidural shots and much pain later, my extruded disc was finally behaving itself.  I've taken up pilates and yoga to keep it from turning against me, and one of my yogis has recommended my new favorite book:  Back Sufferer's Bible by Sarah Key.  It's a revelation, as no one I've ever seen bothers to explain what's going on in such detail, and I crave detail.  She's the physiotherapist to Prince Charles and the Royal Family.  I adore his Duchy Originals line of groceries, so I'm sure he has the same tastes in therapists.  Just like his biscuits, Sarah Key can be crunchy compared to conventional therapy wisdom, but these wacky exercises of hers really work.  I've returned the giant swiss ball I've been using as an office chair, and instead do her stretches.  Better results and far easier to store.

With that, it's time to stretch.  And speaking of a stretch, national healthcare isn't so bad.

1 comment:

Grace said...

HA! I've pulled that red cord too!