I’ve posted a new times about the rather negative (if not also amusing) experience I’ve had with the NHS in recent months. As much as the NHS drives me up the wall, I have to admit I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of a National Health System. Especially because yes, they may have let me down drastically when it came to my sports injury, but when you really need free medical care, they often do get it right.
Case in point, three years ago I was a happy senior at Richmond University in London, when I found a lump in my right breast. I panicked and went straight to my GP who referred me to St.Georges Hospital. I was told that when you approach the NHS and they suspect you could have cancer, you will absolutely be seen within two weeks.
I was seen within one week. The initial appointment was a terrifying mess of non-anesthetized biopsies (you haven’t lived until you’ve had a massive buxom woman jab a needle into your tit to ‘try’ to find a lump), but everyone was courteous and pleasant. This appointment was followed by a very rapid delivery of the results to me – in this case they didn’t find cancerous cells but advised I had an x-ray just to be certain, but that I was probably okay.
It was about a week after the X-ray that my doctor phoned me up and apologetically told me they had underestimated the size of the tumour. It was 7cm x 3.5cm x 3cm, and not at all smooth- which was a bad sign. After this I had to go back a few weeks later for a more thorough biopsy, and as soon as the results were in (maybe 2 weeks later) I was called in and told I did not have cancer, but that I had to have the tumour removed as it was a bit dodgy. They used medical terms for it of course, but ‘dodgy’ was the message I got.
A few months later, I had the tumour taken out. I now have a tiny scar.
(This bit was the only awkward part- when I met the surgeon ten minutes prior to the surgery he happened to let slip he might not be doing the surgery. I was like, then why are we meeting? And he said “well I might, do your surgery. I don’t know yet.” IT’S IN TEN MINUTES AND WE DON’T KNOW WHO BESIDES ME WILL BE THERE?!?! That put my mind at ease….)
The most amazing thing about all that? I didn’t pay a cent for it. At the time I was living on around £400 ($700) a month, with no health insurance. This website puts the cost of tumour removal at $2,000 – aka 3 months wages with no outgoing living costs, and that’s not even counting all the tests and doctors appointments.
In October 2012, when all the foot stuff was kicking off (ha!), I found another lump. I had to wait 7 weeks for an appointment about my busted ass foot, but you better believe I had this lump (also benign) examined within a week. And that’s where the NHS gets it right. I cannot afford health care right now, and I feel grateful that there is a system that stops people from slipping through the net, and just as importantly, doesn’t prevent them from getting worrying symptoms checked out because they are concerned about financial implications. This is where the system works.
But don’t ever make the mistake of letting anyone know you’re not dying- otherwise, you are on your own!
Check out some paintings of the tumour experiance here.