Every day it seems we love living in Valencia more. The weather, the people, the scenery. And, lets face it, the cost of living doesn’t hurt. But the biggest things we love is the people. Everyone is so nice. I’m not sure how that is possible, but people help us with everything, every day. They volunteer to show us where to go and give us advise on how to navigate. Today was just another example.
So I went to my Dr. appointment with the specialist this evening. A night time clinic that had a lot of people in the waiting room for our particular office. The building was clean, lined with marble and laid out efficiently. We got there a bit early and I went right through the door, only to find out that you don’t do that. I sheepishly tip-toed back out red faced. The people in the chairs in the hall giggled, but we were laughing together. Even though the Doctor’s name is on the door in the hallway, you wait in the hallway and they call you. I learned this from a couple of women who took pity on me.
After about 20 minutes, a guy in jeans came out and took a patient back. Then he came out and took me back. He’s a specialist but he was dressed casually and he swiftly determined that I needed a surgeon in his specialty, not him. OK, here goes – I thought. More delays and I’ll have to wait forever to get into see that guy. It will be another month.
Nope. He took me out of his office – Jeff was looking at us as we whizzed by and quickly followed – and marched me down the hall. The Dr had made a phone call when I was sitting at his desk and he was taking us to the surgeon. Right then. At 7 pm. The nurse for the surgeon apologized that I would need to wait for him to finish with another patient. Jeff and I looked at each other like ‘She’s kidding, right?’ She was apologizing to us – a medical professional was saying that she was sorry we had to wait. This was my first experience with this in my entire life.
She called me back into the office and I explained my situation – the other specialist had given her some of the run down – and I gave her all the things I had printed out and the questions I had. She was patient and talked through everything. She asked why I hadn’t gone to the other hospital that my original Dr. had recommended and written on the referral, and I explained that I had called the insurance company and they had sent me to this location.
‘No. They are wrong. I will help you deal with them. But you will have surgery and tests at the other hospital.’
I was confused why she was so insistent and said so.
‘It’s new and the rooms are like a hotel. You will like it there much better.’ She advised.
Well, I decided on the spot I will be doing whatever she says going forward. Finally, the Dr. was ready to see me. He was efficient and assuaged my fears. He had a certificate on the wall from NYU and is certified by the NY board of surgeons. This shouldn’t really matter to me, but it did. And the certificate next to it said he was head of surgery in his specialty at the hospital we were in.
When I left, they had all the paperwork I needed ready for me and she gave me the Dr’s card and she wrote her info on the back.
‘If you need anything, you call me. I can make phone calls for you and help answer questions. Even if it’s not about medical things.’ She smiled.
She was so nice, I had been so stressed about this appointment I teared up. She patted my shoulder and led me out. Jeff met me and I explained what had gone on as we walked home on the river.
‘You look a lot better. Happier.’ he said, after I told him everything. ‘I knew this morning you were stressed when we were at El Corte Ingles and you had no interest in shopping. You never have no interest in shopping. It made me worried.’
‘I was scared but, I don’t know how much better that all could have gone tonight. I’ve heard horror stories, when we were in the US, about health care in other countries. I mean our experience in Italy wasn’t that good. But this was first rate. They were actually kind. I wasn’t just a number. They each talked to me – like I was a person and they didn’t just try to throw prescriptions at me or see how quickly they could get me out of there. No one looked at their watch, like my 15 min appointment was up. That surgeon saw me with no notice and I got right in.’
We were both so amazed we were in shock. Our last few years in the US regarding health care and insurance were terrible. Jeff’s motorcycle accident came with so many bills and co-pays and deductibles. I had to fight the insurance company to pay the helicopter bill. Once he was out of the trauma unit and into a regular room, they gave him Tylenol (like the kind you buy in the grocery store) and they charged $250 for two tablets. Insurance wouldn’t pay the $1800 bill to take him in an ambulance from the roof of the hospital, where the helicopter landed, to the entrance of the Emergency room. Maybe 200 meters. And once they released him from the hospital, it took weeks to get follow up appointments with specialists and the like, and he had nearly died. Shameful.
Today, it took me minutes to see specialists. And no one blinked an eye. Medical systems can work. Who knew? I think I’m now in good hands and my blood pressure is about half of what it was this morning. I know we have moved to the right place for us and I think we will call this place home for a long time to come.