Socialised Medicine, Part 2

Okay, so all didn't go so well with my little SM adventure today. I got to the clinic, started filling out the paperwork and when the forms asked for my credit card number, I got quite confused. Um, WHAT?! I thought this wasn't a pay per use type service! Totally frightened about looking stupid, I asked about the costs and quickly found out that I had stumbled into a private clinic that is not run by the NHS at all. The front office man did a little sales job on me trying to convince me to use them anyway (at £65/30 minutes plus ala carte prices for tests!). I was feeling pretty shitty at the time, had nothing in my stomach as far as sustenance, so in typical Julie-mode, I got mad and the tears started flowing. I would almost feel sorry for the guy at reception had he not made my general paranoia worse by trying to get me to stay and pay.

So, I called up Will and complained profusely which of course made things worse. Not sure how the man puts up with me sometimes, I swear! As my mom has always said, I'm a bit high-maintenance to say the least. (Note to self: Really need to stop using the phrase " I hate your country sometimes... " - doesn't get me sympathy in any way). Poor Will didn't know what to do with me in the state I was, except to say I shouldn't have to pay and he had no idea why I was being asked to do so. That pretty much made up my mind to leave.

I eventually got the guy at reception to tell me where the REAL (aka free) NHS clinic is located, and off I went. In my misery, I didn't pay enough attention to the signs at the station and ended up taking a REALLY out of the way route to Liverpool Street which involved about 2 miles of walking which I could have avoided if I had taken a train instead of Tube at Bank, which I'm pretty sure the reception dude told me but I wasn't listening because of my anger (duh, dumb American girl get with it!). Of course, the difficult journey made me even more upset and my hunger sure as hell didn't help, so when I finally got to Liverpool street, I was in a right state. Knowing my body well, I grabbed a sandwich and some water at the first place I encountered. And then I hit my iPhone.

Have I mentioned that I love my iPhone, and that I can't imagine a life with out it? I had no idea where this clinic was, only that it was near Liverpool Street station. I used Safari to look up the address on the NHS website, then I put the post code into Google maps, used the 'Current Location' function and next thing I know, I had precise directions on how to get to the clinic from where I was standing, in all of about 3 minutes (would have been faster if I weren't also stuffing my face). Thank you Bill Gates. You are a genius.

Ok, so finally got to the NHS clinic, filled out a MUCH simpler form (name, address, DOB nationality - that's it, no HIPAA shite, no insurance questions, nothing...). Turned the form in, sat down on a pretty damn comfy leather chair to wait, and 35 minutes later walked back to the train station with a diagnosis from a really nice nurse practitioner. Luckily, it's just really bad wax build-up and not an ear infection! Yucky I know, but I prefer ear drops and a potential 'syringing' next week to loads of drugs, so now I'm a happy bunny.

All-in-all, my first experience with socialised medicine was very simple and pleasant, once I finally made it to the NHS clinic itself. The fact that I didn't have to fill out a load of forms nor pay a dime truly did offset the fact that I REALLY miss having a car to handle these types of situations. ( Americans have no idea how easy they have it with HUGE parking lots outside of everywhere. But then again, I don't have a car payment or associated hassles, so there ! )

I did learn one key lesson today, one I will never forget:

Medical clinics inside of train stations really ARE too good to be true.

Oh yeah, and I also learned that the NHS are pretty alright.

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