Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cozying up to Socialized Medicine

Over the last couple of weeks, I've managed to get a first-hand look at some of the pros and cons of the Danish healthcare system.

Up until two weeks ago, I'd only needed to see my regular doctor a couple of times for minor things.  But sometimes life decides to toss a whole lot at you at once, and this appears to be one of those times.

Having visited my local hospital 3 times in the last week and a half, and with more visits impending, I now have a much clearer understanding of the way the system works.  And, in some cases, doesn't work.

I'll start with my first trip to the hospital, which was about a week and a half ago.  We probably should have asked the taxi to take us to the ER, but we just asked to go to the hospital.  So, he dropped us off at the main door, and we went to the information desk to ask where to go.  Instead of sending us to the ER, he sent us directly up to the department that would deal with my particular issue.  The nurses there were lovely.  I filled out some forms, and waited around for a while.  They were right in the midst of a shift change, so it ended up being a couple of hours of waiting, but otherwise they were all perfectly nice.  When I finally saw a doctor, she was absolutely lovely.  When it was all done, I was sent on my way, relived at the idea that I wouldn't be getting a huge bill in the mail from the ordeal.

Visit number two happened a few days later, and didn't start out quite as smoothly.  We went, once again, to the information desk, who sent us to the same department we'd been in a few days prior.  When we got there, we couldn't find anyone.  We finally came across a doctor and explained why we were there.  She looked at us baffled, and told us, "You can't just come up here.  You have to have a doctor call us and tell us you're coming."  I explained that it was Saturday, which is why we couldn't have gone to my doctor, and she told me that an emergency doctor had to call her department.  When we asked where we could find an emergency doctor in the hospital where she works, she responded with, "I don't know.  Can't you just Google it?"  At that point, we went back to the information desk and were directed to the emergency room.  From that point on, everyone was much nicer and more helpful.

At the end of visit number two, I was told that (if necessary) I could come back within the next seven days without having to go through the ER first.  This turned out to be necessary.  I decided to call first to let them know I was coming, so I looked the number for the department up on the hospital website.  The woman on the phone was lovely, but told me to call another number.  I called that number, and was rudely told to call another number.  Luckily, the third number was the charm, and off I went.  This third visit also went fairly smoothly, though there was some confusion when my doctor changed in the middle due to another shift change.

One thing that I've observed over the last year of living here and my occasional trips to see the doctor, is that they seem to like to do as few tests and examinations as possible.  In fact, I have never once actually been examined by my doctor.  Every time I visit him, I sit in a chair and we chat.  Sometimes he'll refer me somewhere for blood tests or other various things, but he has never once even touched me other than to shake my hand.  It makes sense that, with socialized medicine, they don't want to spend any more time or money than necessary, but I do worry that they might miss something crucial.

That being said, the hospital is planning to have me back for even more tests for an issue that my American doctors never seemed to question.

The best thing about all of this is knowing that, not only will I not be getting a bill in the mail, I also won't have to spend days on the phone arguing with an insurance company to get them to cover it.

The bad news?  My impending hospital visits involve needles.  Lots and lots of big, scary needles.

Have I mentioned my needle phobia?

Monday, July 8, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 5.1, The Overachievers

Who goes to Summer classes at Studieskolen?

The overachievers, that's who.

At least, it seems that way.

While the class is supposedly supposed to have 11 people in it, it seems that there are actually only 5-7 students.  This is the smallest Danish class I've been in at Studieskolen, and it's nice to be able to have more individual attention.

Like I said, though, the other students in the class are all damn good at Danish.  One girl said on the first day that she only reads books in Danish, so her vocabulary is freakin' enormous.  One guy (the only guy in our class, other than the teacher) said that he learned Danish at age 16, though I'm still not quite sure why (he's Turkish, and Danish seems like a pretty obscure language to learn in high school). Still another girl has already done module 5.1 once before, so she's got all of the answers in her book already.  Not to mention, when I arrived in class this morning I saw her reading the dictionary!

So, I'm feeling a bit behind at the moment.

The good news is, the class is as relaxed as a Summer class should be.

The bad news is that it turns out that our class will be cut short by 2 weeks, as the teacher who was supposed to teach at the end is in the hospital (she's fine, but won't be able to teach, from what I understand).

So, more than ever, I'm glad that I decided in advance to repeat module 5.1 in the Fall, so that I'm sure not to miss anything important.

I'm still annoyed that my own memory for words sucks so much.  Anyone have any memory-improving tips?

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Studieskolen - Module 4.2, Exam Part II

Oops!  More than a week later, and I still haven't posted about the second half of the module 4 exam.

So, here it is:

On the day of the first half of the exam (which was a Friday), the teacher paired us up and gave us our time-slots for the spoken portion, which would take place the following Monday.  I was paired up with a friend that I'd been in classes with since module 1, so I felt good about that.

The spoken exam was almost exactly like our spoken exam for module 2.  In the first half, we blindly chose from a list that we'd made of the 3 books we'd read during the module and two topics which we'd researched and prepared a 2-minute presentation for.  I ended up choosing one of those topics, and spoke a bit about the difference between how radio stations and media conglomerates work in the US as compared to how radio functions here in Denmark.  The friend that I was paired with spoke about one of her books, which I believe was called something like "Den GrĂ¥ Mand" ("The Gray Man").

In the second half, the teacher handed us a piece of paper with a topic and a few words to use as jumping-off points.  The goal was simple to have a brief conversation with our partner about the topic.  Ours was TV, so we chatted a bit about how neither of us watches much Danish TV, but that she likes the show "Matador" (which is an older Danish program), and that my husband and I are planning to get caught up on seasons 2 and 3 of "Forbrydelsen."

In the end, we passed without any major issues, as was the case for everyone in the class (as far as I know).

Since it's been a week and a half since all of that, expect another post about my impressions of the start of module 5 sooner than later.