Monday, April 16, 2012

Tales From the Throne In a Cushy Hospital in Denmark

I am currently studying my Masters. While this is really quite common for a 26 year old, the interesting thing about my studies is that I’m completing them outside Canada. I’m actually pretty far away from home, as I live and study in Copenhagen, Denmark. I also have ulcerative colitis, and to keep my symptoms under control I get Remicade treatments every 6 weeks.  Obviously, I still need these treatments while being abroad, and this post will outlines those experiences. Needless to say, having to get medical treatment in a foreign country in a vastly different health care system is an interesting experience to say the least.

Let me set the scene for you.

First, I’d just like to start off by saying that I actually misidentified one of the hospitals for a castle. Honestly, I think for a moment I mistook the big (and somewhat universal) “H” to stand for Hogwarts.   Second, doctors here are referred to by their first names. My doctor shook my hand and said, “My name is Ebbe”. I’ve never had that happen before, and it was probably a good thing because there was no way I could have said his last name without making him laugh. But all his coworkers, be they administrative personnel or nurses refer to him by his first name. 

Now, in case you didn’t know, the Scandinavian health care systems are some of the most highly regarded health care systems in the world. My Canadian GI actually told me before I left “I don’t worry about you, you’ll be taken care of in Denmark”. She sure was right because when it comes to Denmark, they have public health care nailed. They have all the latest technology, and EVERYTHING is computerized. When I broke my arm in the fall, all the doctors and lab techs kept showing me my x-rays and saying, “look, there it is”. They would zoom in on the break and allow me to study it with them, almost forcing me to see what was going on.  You even get snacks and stuff while getting treatments, and your friends and family can have some too.  Blood requisitions are all on computer, you just show up and present your card and they know what to do.

Now when it comes to Remicade, they have completely different processes. No steroids are given prior, no flush is given after. The Remicade goes in at a fast drip rate, usually taking around an hour.  I sit down in a lazy boy chair, remote myself back, and watch TV for an hour while waiting to finish. The lack of steroids means I don’t feel bloated afterwards, and I also don’t feel like I could eat a horse. Everyone is super nice and overall it’s a pretty great experience.

However, as great as it is, and as frustrating as I find it to sometimes see how far Canada needs to come in terms of updating systems, I do miss my Canadian Remicade experience. I would still take my nurses at my ambulatory clinic in St. John’s any day.  No matter what, sometimes there really is no place like home. 


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