Thursday, May 13, 2010
Please care for me Doktor...
I experienced a little culture shock while visiting the doctor last week.
First, let me tell you that I love going to the doctor. It's like a religion for me. I never miss my yearly check ups. I'm not a freak who goes to the doctor for every little thing, but when it's time to see the doctor I go with a bounce in my step (even when I'm sick). Keep that in mind as you read on...
My boss recommended a doctor for me. So I made an appointment. Here's how it went:
I arrive (right on time). "Hello, my name is Holly. I'm here to see Dr. B." "Yes. May I have your Krankenversicherungskarte (medical insurance card)." I proudly pass it over. "Please wait in the waiting room and the doctor will call you." "Thank you". [side note: I sat in the wrong waiting room for a while, until one of the other doctors saw me and told me I should sit in the other waiting room unless I needed some methadone today. Heehee.] I sit, I wait. After 10 minutes max, "Frau Cuccioletta?" I smile, I get up, I enter the office. It's a nice altbau building and the doctor is a nice woman with warm eyes. I sit across from her at her desk which is adorned with a beautiful Mac. "May we speak in English?" "Yes of course." She smiles. "So what's wrong?" What's wrong? I ask myself ... I'm not sure what she means... "Well, nothing really. I'm new to Berlin and would like to have a general practitioner. I was recommended to you, so here I am. I'd like to have a check up." "Oh, ok. But there's nothing wrong?" What is she talking about? I want her to give me a check up and start a file for me... "Well, actually, I do have some pain in my right knee and wrist, but nothing too serious." "Ok then. What kind of pain do you have? When did it start? Any history of this kind of pain in your family ...." And the list of questions goes on for a while. She seems very interested in this. "Ok so what we are going to do first is a blood test to make sure it's not some kind of infection causing this pain. Then you will go see this doctor for some ultrasounds. So follow me to the test room." I get up. "Should I take my things?" She gives me a puzzled look. "Yeeesss" she says slowly. We walk down the hall. She enters a room. "Please wait here." She comes out. "Ok so they will call you when it's your turn." She smiles and then says, "Have a nice day". I smile. Have a nice day? What? "Excuse me, but will I be seeing you again after the test?" "No, unless you need to discuss something else?" "Then I guess I should make another appointment for my check up then...?" She gives me that puzzled look again. "I'm sorry but is this a strange request I am making?" "Well ... yes. At your age, there is no reason to do a check up. You come and see me when there is something wrong." She smiles. "Oh. Ok then." "Well if you want, I can request that we check other things with your blood test, like your cholesterol...etc." "Oh, ok. Thank you." "You're welcome." She smiles, I smile. I get a vile of blood taken and am told the results will be there tomorrow for me to pick up. And then I am on my way back home - awe struck.
I am awe struck because of two things:
1. Do they not know what a yearly physical is here in Berlin?!
2. The efficiency of getting a blood test, its results and an appointment for an ultrasound. As quick as a blink of an eye.
After telling my story to a couple of people, I've found out that unless you have private insurance you are not covered for a yearly check up. These are only done at certain ages. I guess it makes sense, but nevertheless, I'm highly disappointed. I loved my yearly check ups. I just like being reassured that my health is good. It's like getting a good grade on a test or something ... I don't know. But now I don't have that anymore. I can't believe I'm saying this but I am mourning my doctor in Montreal. This Berlin doctor didn't listen to my heart. She didn't take my blood pressure or weigh me. She didn't even touch me, besides to shake my hand, and this is just very unusual for me.
Oh well ... when in Rome...