Monday, February 24, 2014

Right Now You Are Vindicated, Danish Doctors


After calming down yesterday, while holding my 27th cup of tea and temporarily enjoying the sweet, sweet effects of a full dose of nyquil, I took a few steps back to conclude the following:

I'm pretty sure this is a culture thing (rather than a "oh no, universal health care makes everyone so uncaring" thing, for example).

Why?  Because the doctors in Germany were super hands-on and they had universal care too.  So, lesson here is, I guess, you can't paint universal health care with a broad brush.  So many large and small differences between systems.

Also, there's totally incentive for doctors here to want to keep patients.  It's not like they all have carte blanche to do whatever they want with no consequences.  Anyone can switch doctors at any time they want to for no fee* (which is more than I can say for private plans in America) and doctors here need to keep a certain patient quota to qualify for different levels of compensation (which, I think, on the whole, isn't too different from the salary situation in the U.S.).  So there is definitely still a "free market incentive" thing going on here.

Ultimate conclusion: for some reason this doctory attitude that, for me, was really horrible either must not happen to Danish people (because of something they do?) or no one notices it as being weird because it is just a "Danish culture" thing.

By which I mean, to be a little terse and to-the-point and hands-off and informal and, at times, a bit "Vikingy" (by which I mean a combination of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" and "give your body more credit").**

Aaaaaaaaaaanyway.  What I'm getting to is the fact that yesterday, after talking with a bunch of people, I decided to go to my doctor again (not the emergency room doctor from yesterday) and do a few things a little differently.

This time I was going into the exchange not with the attitude of "the doctor will tell me what to do and I should not ask for anything because I don't know what I'm talking about," but instead more of a "The doctor is there to just advise me.  I am there to drive the action and results."

(Also, I decided that if it was a bad experience, I was totally going to just switch doctors.  Like I can do.  Any time.  To one that my friends really like.  Win win.)

So, my mantra in the waiting room was:

1. Don't wait for the doctor to ask me specific questions.  Just go ahead and very clearly line out my symptoms in detail without needing to be prompted.
2. Allow myself to say, "I don't think that is right" if something sounds like they aren't understanding.
3. Allow myself to ask for more tangible help on a particular symptom, even if, at first, the doctor says that it isn't necessary or doesn't mention it.
4. Just ask questions without waiting for the doctor to ask me if I have any questions.
5. Allow myself to disagree and push back if I do not like a diagnosis.

Guess what?

Totally worked.

It was like, for the first time, the doctor was thinking, "Oh thank goodness, now I know what to do with you!  You are acting like a normal person!"

I was thinking, "This is terrifying!"  But then, as the appointment went on and kept getting better and better I was like, "Ah HA! Figured you out, Danish doctors."

In the end, I came home with my penicillin and a big, giant bottle of extra-strong cough syrup (which was not originally offered until I said, "I would like something to help the coughing." and he said, "Oh!  Alright!  Let's add that then."  huh...).  To round it out, there was another medical issue I had and wanted to be referred to a specialist.  He disagreed.  And then I disagreed with him!  (thrilling, I know) And in the end, we literally made a compromise.  It really was a "Well, you do this thing for me and then we will do that thing for you" sentence.

Then he smiled (huh...).  I smiled.  We stood up, shook hands (huh...), and I went and got my medicine from the pharmacy; which, when I got there, just swiped my card and the information was right there in the system for them already.  Again, I say America needs some huge IT healthcare interconnected records system like this.

You are vindicated for now, Danish doctors.  But you're still on probation.

Also...I'm still mad at the doctor from yesterday and want to kick him in the pants.


What the...?

Okay...campher...huh...opium is weird to have but...




* You do have to pay a little bit, but just for the card replacement (it has your doctor's address and phone number on it).

**Yes.  I just read that again and it sounds very Danish.  Just ask any immigrant here about Danish people and their way of writing e-mails, for example.  I think everyone is super offended at first.  But there really is no offense or harm meant and actually, once you get over your ingrained culture shock, you realize it's probably, in some ways, a superior way of doing things.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Right Now I Hate You, Danish Doctors

This is not a post decrying universal health care.

I love universal health care.  I loved it in Germany and I love it here.  I love how we could call a phone number at 7 am this morning, talk to a nurse about my symptoms, go to the emergency room and only wait ten minutes, have a blood test, and note that the doctor already had all my results and phone-called symptoms in front of him when I walked into the consultation room.  Also, all I had to do to get any of that was swipe my ID card at the door.  And there's no bill coming in the mail.

That. is. amazing.


But, Denmark, you have a serious problem with your doctors.  As people I mean. Who are supposed to have a "soothing bedside manner."  You know?

I don't know what the deal is.  Maybe the doctor profession here tends to only attract awkward and mildly rude men? (Haven't been to a female doctor yet...maybe that would be different?)  Maybe the medical  education you get doesn't include anything about how least seem caring?  Maybe no one knows any different and so this weird, weird culture is perpetuated because the doctors just act like their doctors did?  Maybe you just act this way to me because I don't come in with Danish language guns a-blazin' and you're nervous?

No idea.  Point is, you are seriously the worst.  Consistently, and across many of my own friends' experiences as well, seriously the worst.

(But not the nurses.  The nurses are great.)

Here's something you should know, Danish doctors.  I don't just "go to the doctor" when I have a tickle in my nose.  When you see me in a doctor office you should know that I'm there because something is seriously wrong.  You should know that I've already gone at least three days past the recommended "you should probably see your doctor if this persists x amount of time."  I've already tried all the over-the-counter options, the homeopathic options, and the "just ride it out" option.  You can bet $100 that I've also spent a good deal of time reading the New England Journal of Medicine trying to fix myself.

The only reason I'm in your office is because there is literally nothing else I can do without your signature on some piece of paper and that something huge and very horrible must have happened to me in the past six hours to finally get me there.

So, when I sit down across from you, and you don't ask me any questions, don't take any measurements, and don't palpate/scope/just-look-even-once at anything...but then say, "Sorry, but it looks like there's nothing wrong. There is nothing we can do to help you."

That. Just. DOESN'T. CUT! IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And, in desperation, when I ask for any suggestions you JUST SHRUG (?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!)...

I...I don't even know what to do with you anymore, Danish doctors.  But right now, as my head is exploding and the pressure behind my eyes is so bad that my vision is actually being affected and I'm sneezing blood mixed with satan-slime and I didn't sleep one second last night because of deep, shattering, coughing spasms...



I just want to slap the most stereotypically bad one of you straight across the face.  (in pain and exhaustion, my writing-violence filter drops).

I'm not saying that the solution here would be to have doctors that hand out antibiotics like candy on a parade float--that's a problem in America and I appreciate that they really fight against it here.  I'm not saying the solution would have even necessarily been for me to walk out of that office with a prescription for some kind of strong decongestant and cough suppressant (though I highly suspect it would have drastically helped).

What I am saying is that I have never, not one single time, ever been treated like I was anything less than hysterical on arrival.*   And I have never been examined in aaaaaaany way.  No temperature, no weight, no blood pressure, no listening-to-the-respiration, no light scope in the ears/nose/throat, no lymph-node touching, no sinus-pressure testing, no basic anything.

And that is horrible, Danish doctors.  Especially when you don't even give us a chance to explain or show you anything.

Just a hello. And not even a verbal goodbye.  Instead, just a silent turn toward your computer, like you can't wait for the embarrassing hysterical person to just disappear.  (What is wrong with you?!  Do you not know basic social conventions?!  How am I supposed to know if you're actually finished?!  After all, you never actually did anything.)

You all need a time out.  And I want to kick you all in the pants right now.  IN THE PANTS.  REALLY HARD.  And then when you tell me how much it hurts, I'm just going to shrug and turn my back on you till you go away.


* Right NOW I'm borderline hysterical.  Because you made me that way Danish doctors!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Et år i Danmark

One year in Denmark today!  One year in Denmark today!

To note the occasion, we went to our bakery and bought some bread.  Mostly because we needed bread.

But, while there, we decided to get a fastelavnsbolle - a traditional pastry for fastelavnCarnival / "Scandanavian Halloween" / "The Time You Make Pastries with the Max Number of Calories Possible Because Lent is Coming and We All Know What THAT is About."

There were three choices: hindbær (raspberry), nougat (nougat), and sveske which I initially read as sveNske and therefore thought was some special Swedish type (Swedish = "Svensk").  So we got one of those.

Turns out it actually was a prune pastry?  Still amazing.  Anything is amazing when surrounded by a fist-sized blob of cream with a 38% fat content.

Other fastelavn traditions include:

* Putting a black cat in a barrel with a bunch of oranges and then beating the barrel with sticks till it breaks open and the cat runs away and never stops running until it dies.  Yeah, okay, so they don't use real cats anymore, but there are still barrels with candy and kids with sticks and a picture of a cat involved somewhere in there.

* Ritually flogging your parents with fruit tree branches to wake them up in the morning. (Approved by me, probably since we have no children.)

* Ritually flogging any ol' young woman you meet on the street with a fruit tree branch covered with a bunch of eggshells (Also a defunct tradition, thankfully.)

* Singing the following song with the children:

Carnival is my name
I want (prune?) pastries!
If I don't get any,
I'm going to "seriously mess everything up here in this house I'm not even joking I will break a lot of stuff." (direct translation difficult there)

(Prune?) pastries up!
(Prune?) pastries down!
(Prune?) pastries in my belly!

If I don't get any,
I'm going to "key your car and slash your tires and other destructive things etc."

Thanks for the year here, Denmark.  I can now passably say the words "hedder" and "selvfølgelig" (one looks much easier than it is and the other looks much worse than it is) so let's just chalk this one up as good.

And a Happy Fastelavn to all.
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