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Author: A Potato in a Rice Field
Wanderlust Travel Blog of the Year ’13
With a visit back home, I can say there is one thing I am really looking forward to. This, undoubtedly, is the NHS. For the past 3 years in Asia I have been living without any medical or travel insurance and it has been quite nerve-wracking. But it’s not so much the free medical treatment that I miss with the NHS, but the faith in knowing that I’m getting what I need, and no more. I am honestly terrified of hospitals in Asia, and in my entire time living in Thailand, I have only been once to the hospital with acute stomach pains. At the time I was worried it could be appendicitis, but it turned out to be overindulgence, as always. I was happy to leave knowing this, but they try to send me away with around 40 quids worth of antacids and Thai equivalents to Gaviscon. I insist that I already have some at home, before buying a few packets of Eno, the Thai equivalent of Rennies, for less than a quid at the local 7-11. As always, they do the job. But this was at a cheap, local hospital, whereas international places tend to charge a premium. So medicine and medical treatment is expensive and, when I first arrived here, I was taking Esomeprazole for acid reflux (GERD). When I went to buy similar in Thailand, I couldn’t afford them. Instead my mum posts my old prescription from the UK, and I’ve gone without since.
So, over the years, I couldn’t really afford to get sick, and I am terrified of doctors and hospitals because of the bills I could end up with. I had food poisoning once and refused to leave my room. In contrast, when I last went to the doctor in the UK, they asked about my asthma. I told them that I’d actually been wheezy some mornings which was the first in years. Where they’d normally give me bags full of inhalers, they say I’m okay “sounds like your fine, there’s no need for a new prescription”. They were right. If I needed an inhaler I would have asked for one, plus I have a whole bunch in drawers from previous visits. Anyway, it wasn’t until leaving the UK, that I realized just how necessary the NHS is, and how nerve-wracking life can be without it. I have considered other options, such as local health insurance, but this is expensive and doesn’t cover my travels through Asia, which are the times when I am more active. Then there’s annual backpacker travel insurance but, for the only affordable packages, I must apply for it before travel, and while I’m still in the UK. Therefore my contingency for medical emergencies is to either sell links on the website or, in the worst case scenario, sell my condo. Admittedly, I was less worried as a carefree, solo traveler, with little to my name. But now older and married, I can no longer afford to screw up. So with this return visit to the UK, I can finally have this huge lump looked at on my leg. I’m fairly sure it’s a cyst, thanks to Google, but I really don’t trust doctors around here to check it out. They mostly work for profits, rather than people.