Monday, 8 November 2010

Be thankful for the NHS

Another weekend of visitors over, another week of German class, and another grim visit to the doctor. German class is still quite enjoyable though I wish I could learn more words and sentences with more practical application in my day to day life. Last week we learned how to rent an apartment, talk about our square meterage, and discuss house rules. All fair enough, but we've all been through this process already without being able to speak German. It's just a bit 'shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted'.

On Friday I phoned my doctor's surgery speaking my very best German and told them I needed a prescription. I'd spoken to the doctor about it before and he had told me that he wasn't sure what it might be called over here, so I did him a favour and Googled it for him, before making the call on Friday. "No problem" they said. "Just come in and pick up your prescripton and make an appointment to have it administered". So I cycled there in the cold and rain this morning with my passport and every other piece of documentation that they would be likely to ask for.

Admittedly, it struck me as odd that you could just ask the receptionist for medication and they would just make you up a prescription with no questions asked, but sure enough I got there and they gave me the prescription. The paper literally brushed my fingertips before she whipped it back off me saying she maybe better just check with the doctor. Grr... She came back and tore it up in front of me and told me that they couldn't give me it and I'd need to go and see another doctor and get the prescription from them.

Already running wildly late for German class, I considered giving up but then realised I'd just have to go through this palava again another day and miss even more German. So off I went to find this other doctor. Did I mention it was raining ? Or that my bum was so wet from the saddle that I looked like I'd wet myself? Eventually found the doctor I needed, though strangely not the one they had recommended who should have been in the same building. Once again I showed my passport, insurance card, European Health card, etc, etc, filled out forms and got myself the prescription printed out. Then they told me I could come for my appointment on the 19th? Did I mention that I needed it this week? My vocabulary does not yet extend far enough to allow me to express feelings of panic, but obviously my facial expressions transcend language barriers. I now have a prescription and can take it with me tomorrow morning, and still have an appointment for the 19th - though for what I really have no clue.

I can't tell you how much I am looking forward to that appointment as I don't even know if this doctor will speak any English. Still, as my German is coming on leaps and bounds I will be able to ask her whether she keeps a sledge in her loft and tell her she is not allowed to mount an aerial on the roof. And if all else fails, I guess I can muster up a smile.


  1. What a pain (in the rain) - my experience has been that pretty much every doctor speaks brilliant english - in fact they like to show off and use it as much as possible.

    I have had great success finding Australian Medication here through a local chemist - it is the fancy one in town (there are an abundance) - they have a computer system that gives them the name of the medication and what it is and called in all countries. I needed clarentyne (antihystemine for kids) - it has a whole other name here - and they were very excited to finally be able to use their fancy software.

  2. Strangely enough, it took me a while to find drs who would speak English with me: the first year I'd be at an appointment and handing my cell pone over s they could speak to my husband. It was surreal. Now I speak more German, my drs seem to all understand English!
    Hope you are feeling better.

  3. I shouldn't get too nostalgic for the NHS. The doctor I saw last week didn't speak English either....

  4. Hey Lulu, one of my friends has struggled to get a GP who speaks English so once I found this one I felt it was worthwhile holding on to him even though he's a good few miles away. He also has a lovely manner - and can affect an Edinburgh accent (not that I have one, but still)

    Hi G, I suspect that everyone speaks English but they just enjoy listening to me stumbling through some really dreadfully constructed sentences.

    Ha, ha, ha! You really made me laugh Plan B. I suspect I am going through a grass-is-always-greener phase. Mind you, I had an amazing team of consultants when I was pregnant - were they talking to you in that strong Gala accent?


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