I went to the doctor’s a few weeks ago. I’d never been to the doctor’s in America before – well, I was hardly a regular at the docs in England either (I knew the routine though – go there with a broken leg, they tell you it’s a virus, that sort of thing). Nothing serious, I’d just been having a few pains and wanted an actual certified medic to check me out. The problem with having a few pains here and there is that if you tell anybody (and this is a universal truth, especially in your place of work), you come away thinking you’ve only got weeks to live. People would say “it’s appendicitis!”, even though the pain I’d be describing would be closer to the answer’s page than the appendix. And I’d believe it all, too; I’m not one of nature’s hypochondriacs, but I’m certainly one of nature’s worriers. So I thought I should get a doctor to have a look.
I’m lucky – I have health insurance, one of the benefits of my job. Millions in America don’t. It’s not like in the UK, where we have the NHS – love it or hate it (depending on which tabloid you read), it’s the most valuable thing Britain has, and America would do well to look after its population as a whole with universal healthcare. Richest country in the world and all that. So I went to the doctor’s, and was surprised I still had to pay to see the man – a small amount, ‘co-pay’, but still. They made me wait around, too, in a room full of people with either nosiy children or noisy illnesses. Noisier still was the sound of the cash register. I couldn’t help but think how impossible it must be for people with either no job or really badly paid jobs who cannot afford health insurance, but get sick. How do they cope? Truth is, they do not cope – getting ill is one of (if not the) largest cause of bankrupcy in the US. However, eventually I got to see the nurse, who performed a series of mysterious tests, such as clipping something to my finger and saying ‘ok’ – I still can’t work out what it’s for, perhaps it measures fingernails or something. I can’t put my finger on it. anyway, I was told to take off my shirt and wait for the doctor, who came 25 minutes later (in the meantime, I caught a cold).
Well, he squeezed me a bit here and poked about a bit there, and asked what was wrong and if I’d had these sypmtoms or those symptoms, none of which I had, which evidently must have been a good thing. He told me to take a few tests (urine, blood; personally I’d have preferred geography or music), and basically I came away thinking that my diagnosis was, well, Mr Scully, you’re 31, you see. I’ve not had any mysterious pains since, and I got my test results back today, too. Lots of ‘negatives’ (it reminded me of when Del Boy Trotter got a similar letter and panicked because he thought ‘negative’ meant ‘curtains’). But it seems I’m fine. which is good news, because we’re on the verge of pollen season, and it’s only a metter of time before my hay fever explodes in a mess of streaming eyes, itchy nose and lots and lots of tissue. Buy your Kleenex shares now, folks.