Friday, December 05, 2008

Life on the NHS

I posted before about how I was worried that it would take forever to get treatment/testing for my sleep disorders because of the burdens on the national health service. A couple weeks ago, I went to see my GP and ask for a referral to a sleep doctor. This required me photocopying my large packet of test results from back home so that she could review them before referring me. Apparently, the data were sufficient to warrant a referral, and today I saw a doctor at the hospital.

There was no indication that this doctor was a sleep specialist. I'm not even sure I was in a "sleep clinic." It was just called, "Clinic D," and many of the other patients in the waiting room were geriatric. Anyway, my GP had apparently not passed my previous test results onto this sleep doctor, but whatever. He said he wouldn't do any more blood work since I told him I've had plenty and it's always normal, but he wants me to do another overnight sleep study (would only be my fifth in so many years) so they can make their own decision. At what point do I say, "Enough!! Just f***ing fix it!"? All I really want to know is whether the doctor thinks I should be sleeping with my CPAP machine (please say "no," please say "no"). But I suppose it won't hurt to have another test done. It's further confirmation, so I should be happy. It's just that every time I have one of these, I get my hopes up that I'll actually get effective treatment, and then I spend months trying different things, and they all fail. I think I have no hope anymore.

And that's fine. I'll get the test done, they'll tell me to sleep with the machine, and maybe I'll try another drug that doesn't work. None the worse for wear, and at least I'll be making an effort.

The doctor said they do their sleep studies differently than in the States. The ones I've had before involved electrodes attached to my chest, legs, and various places on my head and face. This makes it really hard to sleep normally. The doctor here said they don't do any of that. They just videotape you and record the sounds you make. That doesn't sound like it would be very sensitive! He said the bedspread is spotted, so they can see movement more easily. How bizarre!! We'll see how this goes. It sounds like it should be more relaxing than my experiences at Harborview (drab rooms, loud hallway, thin mattresses, lots of stuff attached to you so you can't turn in your sleep=useless.)

Anyway, my real point of this post was to say that you hear all kinds of awful things about the NHS, but so far, my experience has been exactly the same as at home with private providers. The referral time from GP to specialist was the same. The sleep doc said the wait time for an overnight study is about 1 month, which is exactly what it was with Harborview/UW Physicians, and he said they'd automatically schedule a follow-up appointment when they got the results, which is better than UW Phys. And this time, it's all free! At least I think it is...Not sure about the sleep study. I'll have to check with my sources (i.e. British classmates).

Prescriptions here are all 6 pounds, no matter what they are (except contraceptive pills, which are FREE.) But if you have a chronic disease, you get everything absolutely free. Holly has diabetes, and she gets all her insulin shots and tester thingies free, but she also gets everything else, like antibiotics for an infection, free. I know there are huge negatives associated with universal healthcare, but that one sounds like a positive to me.

In other news, I have booked a flight to Hamburg for Easter! Woot woot! Also, I just bought a pair of rain boots online. :-) Language barrier: I told Holly I wanted a pair of rain boots, and she said, "You mean wellies?" When I said, "Yes," she said, "I wasn't sure what rain boots were." Well, boots that you wear when it's wet, obviously! Silly English.


  1. Ah, but the English think "boot" means the trunk of your car. So she must have thought you meant a special car-trunk that has umbrellas attached to it.

    Wellies is a cooler name, though. I say, you're totally allowed to adopt that Britishism without me calling you pretentious.

    And cute boots! I mean, wellies.

  2. migrainemaven12/05/2008 2:41 PM


    Have you encountered "rubbers" yet?


  3. Those natty wellies would be handy after one too many bevvies when you are pissed and can't make it to the bog.

    The bootimals are perfect when it's parky outside and would go well with a posh cardie; for a walkabout, plimsolls are the ticket.

    Had toad in the hole yet?