bumps, bruises, blood, burns, and broken bones
If I was a citizen of Sweden, I would have swiped a medical card when I entered the ER building and they would have had all my info and I would have been on my way. Since I am from the US, we had to be buzzed into the lobby and fill out 1 or 2 sheets of paper while my debit card was scanned and charged a flat rate. Yep, everyone who enters the emergency room is charged a flat rate, no matter what procedures would happen. I had to pay for my prescriptions on the way out, but other than that, my visit cost a predetermined ER rate.
No, it wasn’t free. The average Swedish citizen would have had to pay a small copay for the visit (since they pay taxes, etc.). If I had been in a larger city, I probably would have had a pretty long wait time as well. Since I was in a pretty small city at 8pm on a Wednesday, my wait time was nonexistant. We were the only people we saw the whole time. The Swedish medicine system works because the country is far more healthy than the USA. Nobody has figured out how to give good medical care to a country where two thirds of the population is overweight and obese.
Back to the little Swedish hospital. I was a bit worried about the pain in my back and the fact that I hit my head, but after some general coherence, eye, and sensory tests, the (surprisingly) super nice and mindful blonde Swedish woman doctor didn’t seem concerned about my head or my spine. She actually almost skipped the CT scan to check my kidneys because it could be exposing me to unnecessary radiation. When has a doctor in the USA ever been worried about excess radiation?
It’s the USA way to do a million different tests “just to be sure”. That could be partly that many practices are on a Fee For Service payment structure, meaning your provider gets paid based on the number of tests/services they execute. “Overtreatment” can result from practice like this and “undertreatment” could result from the payment method of Capitation (doctor gets paid a flat rate). Problems, problems everywhere.
Anyways, we did the CT scan just to make sure my insides were all fine and dandy (I took a rather hard fall). They set up an IV in my hand (after they tried and failed in my arm, like I told them would happen). We chatted about travel and my time spent in Sweden. I was injected with an iodine contrast so my MRIs could be more clearly read. They told me my body would feel warm all over and that I might feel like I peed myself. That’s exactly what it felt like, plus it also hurt like a B I T C H when they injected the iodine into my hand. But anyways, everything came out cool with that and my insides are ok.
I still don’t know what the super nice nurse with the rave candy necklace was injecting into my hand while a team of 3 nurses wrapped my arm in countless layers of plaster of paris and rolls of white cotton candy. My eyes would open every now and then and she’d say “I’ve got some more Morphine for you”, injecting it into my hand. Then I’d doze off again while all the nurses handled my arm. They must have gave me a ton of the stuff cause they had me stay overnight to monitor my condition (to watch for any signs of serious head trauma, and so we could pick my meds up in the morning).
All of this took about 5 hours. The doctors and nurses were awesome, very thorough, and took everything very seriously. But by golly they took their sweet time in this emergency room.
I slept off and on in the communal recovery room. I woke up at 7:00am to a small cocktail of pills and a Swedish breakfast – a small cup of juice, a packaged reindeer and cheese sandwich, one of those hard rye wheat crackers that all the Europeans eat, an alarmingly large bowl of plain yogurt, a small cup of corn flakes, a small serving of butter, and lingonberry jam. I ate the cracker, half the sandwich, and drank the unknown juice cocktail and immediately wished I hadn’t. I don’t know if it was the painkillers, the concussion, or the food itself but I felt awful.
I slept on the carride back home, feeling ill, and occasionally belching the scent of rotten eggs. It was disgusting but also kind of funny. Still not sure what caused this belching, but ask anyone in my family, I was not imagining it.