If somebody told me that they were getting regular chest pains, I would bug them into going to the doctors immediately to sort it out. However, this urgency does not extend to myself. When I recently started getting chest pains I tried to ignore them in the hope that they’d just get better. But then they got worse. They started to get so painful that they would stop me getting on with whatever I was doing. I tried to get a coveted on the day appointment at my doctor’s surgery but rang up too late so all of the appointments had already been taken.
Despite much pressing from my family and friends to see a professional, I tried to get on with things despite the occasional stabs of pain. I did a NHS symptom checker that told me to ring 999 immediately but somehow knew that was excessive.
Yesterday, I realised it was time to finally go to A & E when I found myself regularly breathing a sigh of relief that a stab of pain was not accompanied by a heart attack.
Looking back on this, I have no idea what my problem was. I think I did not immediately sort it out as I did not want to cause trouble or wait in the lengthy A & E queue. Despite these doubts, yesterday armed with enough books to wait in A&E for two months I went to the hospital.
In contrast to my reluctance to sort out the problem, the A & E Screening Nurse who heard about my symptoms obviously thought they were serious as I was given an urgent ‘chest pain’ slip and was seen by another nurse within five minutes. In a curtained corner of the waiting room diagnosis tests were carried out on me. One of my tests involved taking off my top to get an ECG carried out. Cold, sticky strips were placed all over my torso and my heart rate was monitored.
Thankfully my heart was fine so I was told to go back to the waiting room. Expecting to have to finally do the hours of waiting I had planned for, I started reading a book. However, ten minutes later, a little doctor blared out an interesting pronunciation of my name to see me. After ruling out asthma she felt along my chest bones which caused an unexpected jolt of pain. She had her diagnosis. The doctor detected that I have an illness that I really can’t pronounce which causes the joints in my chest to painfully inflame. She explained this could be caused by a virus or strenuous work.
Just over half an hour after going to A & E, I left with a prescription for a course of antibiotics. Throughout my time at the hospital I felt like I was a cog in well oiled and well designed machine. My experience with the NHS constantly leads me to the conclusion that it is bloody brilliant. I feel lucky that I can get expert, vital health care without having to think about how much money I have in my bank account. Admittedly I did have to pay £16.50 for the medicine but that’s nothing compared to other places in the world. When I went to San Francisco I remember seeing incredibly ill looking people who looked as though they were struggling to survive just lying on streets parallel to ridiculously expensive designer shops.
These people were just left and did not get the help they needed perhaps because they could not afford it. Do people who are rich have more right to quality healthcare than those who are poor? Are rich lives more valuable than poor ones? I don’t think so but unfortunately the American healthcare system seems to have this disparity ingrained.
Witnessing both the benefits of a good quality healthcare system and the fall out of an unfair, money based healthcare system makes me very grateful for the NHS. I am determined to fight off any attempts of privatising NHS services as I would hate for Britain to eventually become a country where people are left to die simply because they are too poor.
© Cultural Magpie