Sunday, April 17, 2005

Mad Props to the Norwegian Health Care System

Well, I feel pretty damn shitty right about now. I normally tend to fend off most illnesses fairly well, and even if I do catch something it is fairly mild.

So how come I have shingles?

What the fuck? That's for old people and those with compromised immune systems. Not healthy 36 year olds! But no, I have stinking shingles, and the worst kind, too, which is on my face and around my eye. It can cause scarring, and if it does get into the eye, and it is all around it and on the eyelid right now, it can cause a variety of nastiness including blindness. Color me freaked out! It hurts pretty bad, though not severely, the worst part actually being a really bad headache, one of the worst I have ever had. Unlike a migraine, however, ibuprofen keeps it under control, but it is still lingering there under the meds, I can feel it. I am also a bit tired and feverish. Will go back to bed soon.

After googling the word "shingles" this morning (thinking that I might have it but not sure yet) I got TOTALLY freaked out. Rich then called me over and without warning showed me pictures of people with shingles. Oh. My. Fucking. God. HORRIBLE. Old folks with pustules and shit all ever their faces, jammy eyes, the works.

Right, that's it. I went straight to the emergency clinic and got it checked out. I expected hell. In truth, it was quite good, I am impressed with the Norwegian health care system. It's very very good.

Good news? The doctor thinks we caught it early enough. If you start anti-viral medication within 72 hours of the rash first starting, it really helps to shorten and lessen the intensity of the virus. He also gave me a referral for an eye doctor, and I have to go tomorrow to get that all checked out and make sure they keep an eye (haha) on it. The waiting time was less than an hour, they all spoke English, and the cost? About $35 bucks. Cash only, which was strange, but hey, that's ok. Much cheaper than in the US, that's for sure.

Then to the Apotek (pharmacy) where I actually had to wait longer for my prescription than I did for the doctor, and the medicine costs over $100. Everyone I had seen at the emergency clinic was there, but they all got there before me, hence the wait. They did not take credit, and I did not have enough money, so they gave me what I needed until Wednesday, (payday) and then I can go get the rest. I thought that was nice of them.

Shingles, fyi, is a "leftover" from chicken pox. You can only get it if you had chicken pox previously. The virus stays in your body and then pops back up as shingles in about 20% of adults, with about 25% of those getting the kind I have. So it's not like you get it from anyone, you just have it in you and it comes back to haunt you, usually when you are down or sick already. Bastard virus, no?

It sucks, but even so I think I have a mild form of it. I hope. I'll spend the next few days in bed and near the house, as it does hurt and is making me tired as hell, but compared to some of the pictures I saw? I think I'm pretty lucky so far.

Even so, mad props to the Norwegian health care system for being efficient, cheap and user friendly.

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