Monday, January 20, 2014

Doctor, doctor! - Visiting the Dutch doctor's office

The following is a blog post I drafted eons ago (in October), but never published.  Given that I currently have a sore throat and stuffy nose, but not one this severe, I thought it was a fitting time to post this entry!

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First doctor visit in the Netherlands

Unlike in the US, you can't call days/weeks ahead to make a doctor's appointment.  When I had a sore throat, I wanted to preemptively schedule a doctor's appointment for a few days later, so that if the pain was still there, the appointment would already be planned.  Nope.  No can do.

Instead, you must call the office between 8-10 am to make an appointment for that day.  Sometimes this means that when you call at 8, they might have an opening at 8:30!  We ended up going at 9:30 (My husband came along, to show the way and the process).

In the meantime, you just have to sit and wait at home until they might have an opening.  In our case, I did some homework or tidied up or Facebooked, and my husband approved work invoices while sitting at the dining room table.

Arrival and waiting

While the desk attendant was on the phone, I looked around and took in my surroundings, noting various similarities to American doctors' offices.  We handed her my passport/identification, as well as my insurance coverage.  At the time, I was considered a "temporary patient" because my residence document had not yet arrived, and so they would later change my status in their records.  Then, just like in America, we sat in the waiting room - only not as long!

The examination

In a private examination room, we sat in two chairs behind a desk - picture a principal's desk or a businessperson's desk.  Rather than the "regular" doctor, an intern/student from Rotterdam's Erasmus University asked me a few questions.

"Should we speak in Dutch or English?" she asked, and I replied, "Ik wil liever in engels praten" (I would rather speak in English).

She then proceeded to ask me what my symptoms were - sore throat, hard to swallow, hurts when I yawn, my neck was swollen. (If you could've seen my tonsils, they were MASSIVE, bigger than I think they've ever been!)

After this, I hopped onto the examination table -- until this point, we were just sitting behind the desk, not like in America!  She looked in the back of my throat and said something to the effect of, "Wow, that's bad."  Then she felt the glands in my neck.

Diagnosis

The throat was indeed infected, but she couldn't tell if there was an abscess.  (An abscess would be inside the tonsil and the antibiotics can't get to it.)  She also hasn't seen tonsils that big with adults.

The other possibility was that I might have mono, and that would be discovered only if the antibiotics gave me a rash.  However, I wasn't extremely tired/lethargic.  If I was in America, they'd probably diagnose either strep or tonsillitis, but wouldn't jump right to MONO!

Thus, I ended up with some antibiotics, much later than I might have had them in the US.  Eventually, I did get better!


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Have you ever visited the doctor in another country? What was it like?

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