Monday, January 24, 2011

Welcome to the NHS

Today I got a rather unexpected change up from my normal routine: a trip to the beautiful John Radcliffe Hospital Emergency Room! There I got to see the wonders of social medicine in action, from complete anonymity (they never once asked for any form of ID - I could have told them my name was Kate Middleton for all they cared) to excruciating waits (though really, that one's certainly not unique to NHS) to mystifyingly unhelpful ultimate care. What a thrill.

So basically, my eye hasn't been getting better, and in fact I've been having more issues like headaches, nausea, and peripheral vision problems recently than I did in the first few days after the incident. This was (and is) rather concerning, and more importantly has been getting in the way of my studying because I've been getting blinding headaches every time I've tried to read. Not promising. So I finally decided to get it checked out. Since the general practitioner couldn't see me until Thursday, I decided to brave the ER.

Now, in general I don't have much to complain about. The wait was actually pretty short for ER standards (in and out in 4.5 hours - crazy!! though 98% of that was waiting room time, whereas in an American ER you usually get a couple hours in each stage) and, honestly, how much can you wheedle about something that was FREE and involved absolutely zero paperwork? Right up until I actually saw my doctor, I was ready to walk out of the place singing the praises of social medicine to the rooftops.

But. The treatment I ultimately received was, in my opinion, ridiculous. I was let into a room where a doctor performed a basic vision test on me that I blatantly failed because I couldn't even see the fingers he was holding up in my peripheral vision, let alone how many. He then briefly ran his finger around my eye socket to confirm that "nothing was broken" (I actually agree that I don't think anything is broken, but how he could legitimately come to that conclusion given the extremely perfunctory nature of his examination I have no idea). When I told him about the incredible headaches and the nausea, he said, "it's just a headache; it's not a big deal," and then went on to explain to me what a bruise was in case I had gotten worried about the startling discoloration going on around my eye. Finally, after about two minutes and no actual diagnosis, he told me that my black eye should go away in about a week and I was free to go. Ummm... what.

Now granted, I knew going into this that there probably wasn't much they could do to help me, but I at least wanted confirmation that I probably have a concussion and the warm fuzzy reassurance that I'm not going to die in my sleep tonight. My symptoms are so obvious, even the triage nurse was like, "you clearly have a concussion," so why could the doctor not even make the smallest gesture towards that diagnosis? Or address the worryingly worsening symptoms? Oh well. I'm pretty sure I'm not going to die, and at least this folly didn't cost me a dime, unlike when I broke my neck and still had to pay the Concord ER for two separate misdiagnoses (thanks, guys).

Hopefully I'll be more up for reading tomorrow, because I've got a lot of work to do this week! Finger crossed =)

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