On October 19, 2010 I moved from the US to The Netherlands. This is a love story many years in the making.

Meer medische verschillen…

Today I had another positive medical adventure that provoked me to want to post some more about the differences I am experiencing between US and NL health care. It’s not a particularly happy topic, and the US situation is personally infuriating to many, including me. My perspective has changed somewhat, though, as I am now in the amazingly fortunate position of now being enraged on only behalf of my loved ones that suffer needlessly due to the soul-less policies that drive the medical industry in the United States.

The way it works here is if you need something particular, like a pain doctor,  you go to your GP and he sends a request to the specialist on your behalf. A week or two later you get a letter in the mail, inviting you to your appointment, informing you of who your doctor is, what is needed, etc.  I’ve noticed that the doctors here do not rush you. They take the time to ask a lot of questions, listen to what you have to say, discuss ideas, and then ask you what you think of your treatment plan. Yes, you really just read that. I have spent over an hour with each of my specialists, initially. Each of them specifically requested my ideas and eventual agreement to the approach to treatment. I remember reading something along the lines of the average time a US doctor spends with a patient is 10 minutes.

Readers, what are your experiences? Have you been rushed at your doctor? How badly? Did you ever complain? What happened, if so?

I had my first appointment with a physical therapy place today. It isn’t far from the house, a straight shot up the Hereweg, 8 mins walk.

This morning it was absolutely pouring – for the first time in a while! and the wind was very strong, force 8 on the Beaufort scale, so I walked much faster, blown along by the mad gusts of wind! When I arrived I had to decipher a sign on the door that said to push the red button, which I did and was buzzed in, then met by a smiling little guy who said “Welcome! You did not bring a bathrobe, did you?”

Ah, um…well, no, I had not! Apparently I needed one, though, so he gave me one to use for the visit. I’ll bring my own, next time.  He offered me a cup of tea, which I accepted, whereon he brought me a wooden box of assorted teas so I could choose the one I wished. I had melon, and it was very good. There were also little packets of biscuits, which I gladly helped myself to. They’re delicious: thin, crisp, buttery, a little spicy.

…Wait. Really?! Being offered – no, served! tea and biscuits while waiting for the doctor? This wasn’t a zillion Euro fancy place, it was a Dutch standard doctor’s office, absolutely plain by American measures, so the service wasn’t something that I was paying for. It was just a very nice thing they do. Wow.

After a little while I was escorted to meet my chiropractor and massage guy. I entered the room and one guy was sitting at a desk and another, older gentleman was standing. He reached out a hand and introduced himself as Jan, and indicated the man at the desk as “Dr. Peters”. I exchanged a few brief pleasantries with the doctor, beginning with the one I always get first: “Where are you from?” In my case this is not an easy question to answer, being a diplobrat and all. I asked him where he was from, as his English was truly superb. He gave me a big grin, pointed at his framed diplomas and said “Kansas!”

…Oh, my God. What were the odds? I cracked up.

So after a few pokes and prods here and there, Jared from Kansas tells me my pelvis is rotated very much out of place, the left side pushed forward and the right side correspondingly pushed back, and crushing a nerve center in the process. This makes perfect sense, given what I’ve been feeling over time. My question is why didn’t any of the doctors I saw in the US see this? I saw specialists! And what was I told? I was told to lose weight, as that would fix my problem. Obviously.

How many of you guys have been told that?

After these guys beat me up, Carel picked me up because it had started to rain like mad and we went to go pick up my bike! He bought me a lovely bicycle so that I can be independent and able to travel much further than on foot. It’s a women’s GazelleNL which has been customized with a carry rack on the front so that I can do the shopping and so on, and a suspension in the seat post to help protect my broken rear. They also installed a special seat we bought with a cutout where the tailbone is, and so today she was ready and now I have my own bike! I am so excited. This evening I did a trial of how what my idea for customizing it will turn out – I put a thin layer of oil on the rear fender and then drifted some opalescent sparkles onto it. It looks subtle in the dim light and I think it will be gorgeous in the sun.

Daisy has been biking with Carel every day that the weather permits it, 2-3km a day. I look forward to being able to take her too. Anyway, as we were out picking up the bike, I got a call from the doctor who will be doing the attempt to find the nerve to apply the block to, Monday. She was calling to see if I had any questions or concerns before the procedure. I was shocked. The doctor. Herself. Called me.  So, Monday afternoon, we take the first run at finding a fix for my spine problem.

Hope it works the first time…


One response

  1. John Stephenson

    In response to your questions:
    – My most recent doctor spent a good amount of time with me but previous doctors were pretty brief–10 minutes sounds about right. Luckily, I don’t really like talking to doctors, so it all worked out.
    – I haven’t yet been told that I need to loose weight by a doctor, I’m workingy my way up to it. If I lived in the Netherlands, they’d probably tell me to loose weight–they are all beanpoles there.

    Nice fiets!

    February 5, 2011 at 4:25 am

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