Since the beginning of humans, we have craved certainty. If we can manage uncertainty, we can keep ourselves, and our families, safe. And, maybe, beyond that we can even thrive.
After getting our SIP cards for Spanish health yesterday, I woke up this morning feeling better. Jeff noticed it and said so. And I know why.
When Jeff called an ambulance last time to take me to the hospital, he dialed 1-1-2. The agent who answered asked for our SIP. When Jeff said we had Sanitaria via Social Security but we didn’t have our cards yet, they told him it would be at least two hours to get an ambulance. And when it did come, Jeff would need to pay on the spot with his card for the ride. No kidding. Swiping our bank card with a portable card reader before transport. Or, the guy suggested, we should call our private health insurance to get them to call the ambulance. Maybe they could get a private ambulance sooner and would pay for it. Jeff was freaking out.
In the US, ambulances cost about a thousand dollars per trip. But, when you call 9-1-1 they come, insurance or no. He didn’t care about the money. Jeff just needed to get them to come help me. He wanted someone who had medical training to deal with any eventuality on the way. He could not drive me because even sitting up my heart could not take it.
So, Jeff called the hospital, who got a Dr on the phone, who called the insurance, who called a private ambulance service. This took time, but they arrived before the Valencian ambulance would have. The pain in my chest grew. I was sweating like I had run a marathon, yet I was laying in bed. But if we’d had the SIP card the ambulance would have been called immediately.
The difference between a prívate service and the Valencian city ambulance is significant. The private one is a gurney and a driver. Alone. No medical training. Just fast, hair raising, painful transport. I was thrown all over the place as the driver weaved in and out of traffic with the siren blaring the familiar European eueueu. (OK. I hear it now) and perpetual honking. He slammed on his breaks so many times and it jerked me all over. It was like something from the tv show M.A.S.H.
The Valancian transport called out by 1-1-2 is a full blown medical van with a staff of people who have emergency medical training. They can treat a heart attack and perform CPR, etc. Onsite or en route. I’ve ridden in one of these called by a Spaniard for me on the street when all this heart stuff began. I didn’t write about it at the time. It was not the same experience, at all. The difference could be life or death.
As we’ve been preparing for our move, I’ve had a list of tasks to tick off. But, because of our experience, getting the SIP card has been at the top. When we get up to Lugo, all we have to do now is change our address. We won’t have to go through the acquisition phase ever again. And if something were to happen when we get there, getting help via 1-1-2 will be much easier out in the sticks, where we will be living.
I have to go in to have a procedure today. Maybe it’s partially the anxiety around that. Who knows? It’s an uncertain time in the world right now. But one thing is for sure. Yesterday, we controlled one small piece of the downside of the uncertainty pie. And if he’s honest with himself, I think even Jeff feels a little better with that red and gold plastic card in his wallet.