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Friday, October 9, 2009

A Visit to the Dr. in Sweden

I woke up this morning feeling lousy yet again. I have not been on top of my physical game for about a month and so when I woke up this morning with a headache and sore throat, I figured I better see a Dr. before the weekend. When we first moved to Sweden, we were assigned a Dr. whose office is in our neighborhood. We began going to her as our G.P. I wouldn't say that I have gotten to know her, but I can walk to her office in 3 minutes so it's quite worth it. Naturally, over the course of 11 years we have figured out how to make the Swedish medical system work for us. So I knew that in order to get in to see her today I either had to go to the office between 9.30 and 11.00 for the open reception time. To get in on this, you go to the office, take a number and wait. But you are guaranteed to get in. You can also make an appointment but you have to call between 8.30 and 9.15. It was 8.35 so I was in luck. I called and after getting a busy signal three times, I finally got through. I made an appointment for 11.00 a.m. Since I had extensive physical therapy on my shoulder last spring, I have already paid enough out of pocket (about $150.00) so I now have a free card for all medically related expenses. It is valid until March 2010. When I showed up at 11.00, the receptionist took my social security number, then recorded my free card and asked me to have a seat. About one minute later I was in seeing the Dr. She took an immediate throat culture to rule out strep and ordered about 5 different blood tests. I walked down the hall, took a number and waited on the lab. About 5 minutes later I was called in. I handed the lab assistant my throat culture and he proceeded to draw 5 vials of blood. He asked me to wait while he finished processing everything. About another 4 minutes later, he handed me the results. I walked back down the hall and about a minute later, I was back in with my Dr. She informed that I do not have strep or any other kind of infection but the results of the anemia check won't be in until Monday. I asked her if she could prescribe something to help me sleep better and she said yes. As she looked over my record, she noticed that in 2007 I came to see her for anxiety and sleeplessness. She had noted at that time that my brother had died and that my mother was ill. After looking at my record, she asked me how my mother was! I was so surprised and then so thrilled to say that she was better...even in remission and doing well now. She asked how I was doing and I said except for the chronic sleep problem, I was much better. She then wrote out the prescription and sent me on my way. All told, the appointment took about 30 minutes and cost me, nothing. I had blood work, a throat culture, and got a prescription. I received test results before I walked out the door. And my government assigned Dr. asked me personal questions about my family life. I know that socialized medicine has its flaws, but it also has many advantages and today I saw the fruit of a well-run government medical system. I am grateful for good medical care I receive here in Sweden and for the fact that I pay so little out of pocket for such services. Now, if only I can get rid of this chronic tiredness and start to feel 100% better soon!