Unwell Health

Gordana Popsimonova

Healthy people have thousands of wishes. The sick ones have just one – to get better. This is a popular saying. I can confirm this, as a person with health problems, to some point disabled, at one stage frightened of pain and unpredictability. I had the chance to experience this myself in the past two months.

In more than half of my lifetime, my only communication with physicians was with gynecologists and dentists. And this started when private practices were on the rise. I went to those obligatory medical reviews because it didn’t feel right to put the Dean at risk to be disciplined due to my fear of “white coats”. To be clear, it is about elementary, cheap examinations that we have to have every couple of years, to fulfill our legal obligation. That is all the University can afford financially. If we are in need of a more detailed checkup, we have to go to our personal physicians. And I did not have one. If I ever had one, I never really knew him/her, nor met him/her. I completely understand and accept your commentary while you’re reading this.

I guess it can be summed up in the following – it is her fault for neglecting her own health. My respond to that would be – I was THAT scared of the public health system. I repeat – the public health system is all wrong. This means that individuals, and by this I mean doctors, specialists, subspecialists who work (or try to work) in that system, do not do their best to serve the patient, that is, me.

“My Term” is a great idea that is poorly conducted. At the door of the clinic, each specialist has a neatly organized list of patients who have a scheduled appointment. Pardon, the family doctor has scheduled medical checkups. However, in front of that same door there are at least six patients waiting. Probably because there are such, like me, with a “priority” referral. I use quotation marks on purpose, because some people abuse that “just a bit”. This is how goes: After closing the door behind you, in doctor is sitting in his micro-clinic, with two trainees. There is no time to examine and talk, because the patient needs to be registered, then they write an anamnesis, then write a referral for laboratory analysis or other clinics. Three minutes of attention, or less, is all you get. Then you have to go to a few counters and get those referrals verified, where you have to wait way more than three minutes. Then you have to pay for some of the services (bring cash because you cannot pay with a credit card), and then you have to come back in a week or so, to get your lab results. While I’m writing this, I’m still waiting for some of my results that are not ready. Even though it’s been three weeks already. I think it’s unnecessary to discuss the infrastructure. Luckily, I was able to walk. With help from my husband I dragged myself from clinic to clinic, but I was still mobile. I can only imagine those suffering poor people that need to be taken on a gurney and pushed down streets where cars are driving by, with an umbrella over the patient’s head, through all those bumps and holes on the roads that makes it impossible for the gurney to move properly, through all those ponds and small lakes, inaccessible sidewalks, parked vehicles etc. All this can make a healthy person sick.

And on top of this, until yesterday we didn’t have a Minister of Health. . And this is where I vacillate – was it better that this position is filled by a person from that particular profession, someone who knows the problems in the health department personally, or would be better to have someone who is not involved in medicine, and can see those problems objectively. The latter option did not seem to work for us. On the contrary, it took us a few steps backwards. However, we will need a lot of energy, wide support, radical change and wisdom to improve our health department. I went, I saw… And was terrified by it.