Much Ado About Our Healthcare

During this week, something terrible but hilarious when you looked back, happened to me.

It was a normal Monday morning. It was close to the end of the month, so I was awaiting for my salary to come in. I was just trying to just hold on till the end of the month. Typical monday. Nothing eventful yet.

Then, it was lunchtime.
I went to lunch with my colleagues.
I ordered myself a lovely nasi kukus with ikan keli. That means steamed rice with catfish for those of you who don't read malay. 

One of my colleague often order this and it always looked good so I decided to give it a try.

Bad mistake.

I ended up having a fishbone stuck in my throat. When you think of it, it's pretty silly. But it scared the living daylights out of me at that moment. I tried swallowing rice to push the fishbone down but after half a bowl later, I found it to be not working.

I heard from my dad when I was younger that, if a fishbone get stuck in your throat, you had to do an operation. And that only fueled my fear and anxiety.

Immediately, I left to go to a clinic nearby. My kind colleagues helped me find this clinic though. I was definitely panicking. 

The doctor in the clinic wasn't helpful. She wasn't very nice at all. She kept pushing my tongue down and because of that my head moved because she was pushing so hard. She found me to be frustrating and told me that if she can't see it, she can't pull it out. It only drove my panic and anxiety through the roof.

So in the end, she couldn't find it. She wrote me a referral letter to the hospital instead. But I disliked her because she didn't look like she believed me. She kept raising her eyebrow, asking me if I was sure I had a fishbone stuck in my throat. I could tell she think I was bluffing to get out of work. And honestly, I wasn't. I was just scared.

I went back to my office, told my superiors that I have a referral letter and I'm going to the hospital. I even showed them the referral letter. They allowed me to go to the hospital.

With a private hospital 5 minutes away, I walked there. I didn't really think of which hospital to go. I just went to the one nearest to me.

I went to the Accident & Emergency. I sat there for an hour. During that hour, the nurses and doctors try to figure out my situation and what to do. In the end, they referred to an ENT (ears, nose and throat) specialist. But before they referred me to the ENT, the first question they asked me was, will you be paying cash or are you insured?

And it made me slightly mad. It made me sad. 

When I'm panicking and scared, that's not what I want to hear. 

And if I can't afford it, are you going to kick me out?

No, I understand that healthcare is still an industry and profits have to be made. But when a person needs healthcare, they are usually desperate. So asking if someone can afford it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. 

But most of all, I want to remind every medical practitioner that they took the hippocrates oath. And that oath is to heal the sick. 

It made me think of the poor and the disadvantaged. If this was the nearest hospital and they rushed here, seeking medical help. Should they be penalized for their illness because they can't afford it? 

I know that the public hospitals exists. And if cost is a problem to me, I should have gone there. Like I said, I wasn't thinking. I was panicking.  

Maybe it's just me. But I just believe no one should be denied medical care simply because of their lack of wealth. But that's just my belief. So it left a bad taste in my mouth when I answered their stupid question. 

So I went to the ENT specialist in that hospital, he was in another block so I walked myself there.

I waited for two hours before I was attended by the ENT specialist. 

When I finally met the specialist, he was absolutely professional. He asked me questions to find out background on my Ears, Nose and Throat.

It took him two hours to find the fishbone and to extract it out from my throat. He even put those camera thing down my nose and into my throat to look for the fishbone.

When he finally pull it out, I was relieved.

His service was absolutely professional. He explained things to me although I must admit that I don't understand them fully. He even told me when pain would come and how long they would be in. And if I struggled in pain too much, he stopped to give me a break.

I wondered if the public hospital had this such of service. I understand the public hospital is probably overburdened and overtaxed. They might not have time to give such personalised medical care. And it made me a little sad. I also believe in quality healthcare for everyone. I don't think anyone should get medical care that isn't good just because they can't afford it.

Like I said, it's just my belief.

It really made me think about our healthcare.

I wonder how we can improve it.

But there's alot of factors to consider.

For example, since the public hospital is overtax, a natural suggestion would probably be increase the number of public hospitals.

But doing that would mean that the costs of healthcare to the government would increase. Can our government accept this cost?

I read in the newspaper once that the average time it takes for the patient to be attended in a public hospital is four hours to eight hours.

However, I was in a private hospital, and even then, it already took four hours. I get that I'm not critical. And I understand that. But one cannot help but wonder if it's possible to increase that time.

But the healthcare industry is very much different from other industries. If a critical person comes in, they have to be attended to immediately because death is literally hovering over them. So a queue system probably won't work. And that's why they use the priority system instead.

Although my beliefs do sound utopian like, I do really wish that everyone gets the quality healthcare they deserve.

However, this incident only teaches me that anything can happen at anytime and also, be careful while you're eating fish. 

You really don't want to end up like me. 


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