Friday, 13 June 2008

Dylan and Grommet

And so goes the story of Dylan and his ear operation.

On Wednesday we had an appointment with an ear surgeon specialist. It was actually the second such specialist we were referred to: the first one could only see us at the end of July, which would have been a bit of a shame given the urgency of the matter and that by the time we would have got to do anything winter would be over together with most of the causes for Dylan's ear miseries.
Luckily enough, the specialist we ended up with has had a cancellation and we were able to see him within a week.
The specialist appointment itself was rather short. He had a look at Dylan's ears and told us that given his history the way to go is grommets. Simple as that; so simple it makes you wonder whether this is the only thing he's programmed to say given that, after all, he does make his living through surgery.
Given the situation, though, I couldn't argue. Dylan has had some fluid stuck behind the ear drums of each ear, and while antibiotics helped clean the fluid of germs there was nowhere for the fluid to go; thus when the next bug came around it had a lovely resort to stay in. The solution is therefore a simple plumbing exercise: make a hole through the ear drum, suck the shit out, and install grommets to put the resort out of business.
So we've agreed with the doctor. Dylan was to have his operation at a private hospital near us first thing in the morning Friday - the first theater spot given to him at 7:00 because he's the youngest patient around.

On Thursday the hospital called us to let us know we've been relegated to 10:00, which "should be better for you". No it's not: It means that Dylan has to fast longer and that I have to lose a working day because by the time the operation is over going to work would be pointless.
Score another point for the private health system. I wasn't a fan to begin with and I'm certainly much less of a fan after today's experience.

Eventually Dylan's time slot ended up being a bit after 11:00. So much for accuracy.
We got to the hospital at around 9:30 and went through the paperwork. It turned out our surgeon has this deal with the private health insurance funds called "Gap Cover"; I have no idea what this means, but it meant we didn't have to pay him. Next we've learnt that we don't need to pay our usual $200 per hospital day excess fee because Dylan is a dependent and dependents don't pay; as I told the person who broke the news to us, we should operate on Dylan more often.
Just as we thought the coast is clear and our wallet would remain shut through the day we met the anesthetician, who informed us we'll have to pay for the drugs he's using. The "good news" was the our private health fund bears most of the load, so we "only" need to pay $120 out of pocket.
Wow! What a pleasure! Do we need to pay the hospital cleaners separately, too? Or perhaps just for their cleaning materials?
Deduct one more point to private health, please. If all the money that went their way (a lot of it coming directly from the government in the shape of the 25% rebate) was to go to public health, there wouldn't be a need for private health in the first place.

Dylan was put to sleep using a gas mask. Jo went in to see him go through that and she said it was all over within a couple of breaths; resistance was, indeed, futile.
Some twenty minutes later we had Dylan back in our arms, still heavily sedated and obviously not in control of his body (although very much in control of his crying vocal chords).
It was time to finally feed him with some light stuff, so we were about to put the formula bottle we had with us to the test. I had to warm it up so I asked a nurse to microwave it for 20 seconds; she said she's a mother herself and she would do it for 30 but I insisted. She ended up doing it for 30 - apparently, being a mother gives you the right to think you know better than everyone else - and indeed, she over warmed the bottle. "Oh, I didn't take into account you were using a glass bottle; I'm used to plastic bottles". As if it makes such a big difference.
She didn't apologize, though; deduct one extra point for private health.

At first Dylan was so limp he couldn't even drink the bottle. That is, when the bottle was actually ready to drink from. It reminded us of his very first days in the outside world, when he couldn't drink either.
Eventually he did, and within an hour and a half we were discharged. Dylan received a discharge gift - a fluffy zebra toy. It was quite nice and certainly useful, but if the private health system thinks they buy me out with a stuffed zebra they're wrong. Deduct another point for them, will you?

Where are we now? Back to where we've started from, only minus one more sick leave day.
In the morning before the operation Dylan has had a bit of a sniffle. By evening time, between starvation, anaesthetics and the operation itself, his slight cold had turned into a fever yet again.
So we're in for another weekend at home. And probably another spent sick leave day during the upcoming week. Work is going to kill me!
And Dylan, poor Dylan, sure isn't having an easy time in this world so far.


Uri E. said...

Glad to hear it went well.

Not quite sure why you think public health services would be better.

What do you call the system in Israel?

Moshe Reuveni said...

To be honest I don't really know the way the Israeli system works. I never used it in anger.
What I do remember is that a doctor's visit cost me 30c out of pocket, whereas in Australia a doctor's visit costs me $30 out of pocket. At these rates you think twice about going to see the doctor, and the reason why this is the case is simple: The Aussie government has decided to kill public health; data shows this was clearly against the will of the voter (I can back this claim up but I'm pretty sure you wouldn't be interested), but as is often the case the voter is also pretty dumb when election time comes.
I could write a book about my problems with the Aussie health care services, but the highlights concerning private health are to do with leftovers from the previous Howard "let's take care of the rich" government:

1. People are pretty much forced to join private health funds after the age of 30 and/or if they earn a decent amount of money.

2. The government is paying lots of tax payers' money to the private health funds. Billions! Isn't it supposed to be private? BTW, the same applies to private schools: the policy there is to give more money to the more affluent suburbs since they "need" more money to keep up. If you were to ask me, things would be the exact opposite. The exact amounts given to each school are kept secret (!) despite the use of public funds. Now, because private schools are usually located in affluent areas, we end up living in a country where the government pays much more tax payers' money to private schools than to its public schools. We're not talking a few dollars more here; we're talking hundreds and even thousands of dollars more per student. Does this make sense? Only if you're rich.

3. The policy of funnelling more money to the private sector is killing the public sector. The health providers (doctors and such) are moving to the private sector where they make more money.

In short: If there is one thing we shouldn't copy from the USA, it's their healthcare system.