Dutch Doctors

This is a true story about Dutch doctors. It seems scary, and frankly it scares the shit out of me, since I live in the Netherlands.

In december, playing football, my knee “cracked”. It didn’t break, but I felt a crack, and fell in an excruciating pain. I had pay the doctor a visit, which is never a pleasant thing here. Believe me, this story will convince you.

Barely standing I made into the doctor’s office. He briefly examined my knee and concluded that nothing was broken. He told me to take two paracetamol every 6 hours, even though I was perfectly fine bearing the pain. No thanks. I wanted to know what was going on, but, apparently, nothing. Just crutches for a couple of days, no sport for 4 weeks, and in two months I should be like new.

After six months I’m still in pain. Not always, but my knee hurts often. I decided to try the doctor again. He said that I should get an MRI to check whether the meniscus is broken.

“Fine — I said — let’s do that.”

“Who-ho, not so fast. Too expensive.”

Too expensive for who? For him?

If you now read through the lines, you already get the main message: I’m not going to treat you, even if you need it, because it’s expensive. You’re a doctor, and you don’t want to cure people with their own money? Which kind of doctor are you again?

A little background here. For what I heard, here in the Netherlands the less clinical analysis a doctor prescribes, the more he gets at the end of the year. That’s right, he get richer if he doesn’t cure you!! How sick is that?

I had to fight a week with him to get my MRI. Do you think he’s just greedy?

When getting some medication for my psoriasis, he saw my file and asked about my heart illness, ARVD. I said that I had to be under control, but without taking pills, like my brother and my mother do.

“Why? — he inquired — I see here in your file that it has no consequences.”

I don’t want to play the part of the asshole here, but if you look in Wikipedia you see that death is a, rightfully, very feared consequence of ARVD. And which kind of illnesses do not have any consequences? Oh, right, the one that needs only painkillers.

So I told him, and he gave me that strange look, like I’d know better.

Maybe a novice, you may think. He works at the VU, the Free University of Amsterdam.

Let’s try another one. It goes back when I first went to the doctor here in the Netherlands. I told him about ARVD, saying that in Italy I was checked every year to see whether the status of my heart had changed.

“Who-ho, slow down you handsome, here in the Netherlands we don’t treat illnesses like in Italy — because here they prefer to let you die if that yields little money for their wallet — so we’ll do the following: we test for it this year and then, if you feel some disturbs, we’ll see what we can do.”

Let me help you out with this: when your hearth is not feeling fine with ARVD, that means you’re dead. How nice from him to take action after my funeral! I told him and, as the other doctor, he gave that look as I’d know better.

Do you think the fun is over?

My wife is not feeling well lately. She’s very tired, her head itches. So what should we do? Go to the doctor. Yay!

The doctor is sure she’s allergic to something. But it will be so difficult to find out what that you’d better take this pills and shut up. It will go away.

Three weeks later, you guessed right, it’s not gone. How can it go? They take a blood sample. I don’t want to question the timing, but they could have done that weeks before.

Anyway, ten (10) days later we get the results. The doctor’s assistant said she’s allergic to 5 different things, including cats and dogs. The next day she return to the doctor to hear the “strategy”. With a wee of sadness she says

“I know that I’m allergic to this and that, and I’ll not be able to eat these and those. What should I do?”

That strange look again. The doctor says that she’s not allergic to anything. Some blood values are out of range, and a new blood sample is needed (OK, here it’s the assistent’s fault).

New blood sample, another 10 days. It turns out that she’s low on iron. I check with an Italian doctor (you never know), who said that low iron can give you some itch.

In the meantime my wife goes to the doctor again, to see what he can do. He’s a nice guy, so he begins with “Now you’ll tell me that all your symptoms are gone, right? Just eat better and you’ll be fine”.

My wife is italian, like me. If you happen to know some folks down in there, you know we have temperament. A lot. But it was the doctor’s lucky day, so she didn’t explode. Instead she asked whether iron enriched pills would help with the itch.

Blank look. He checked the PC, but it was not working, so he resorted to Google, on his iPhone (!!!). Lo and behold, Google confirmed what my wife said.

Needless to say we went to Italy to have ourselves cured. If you’re curious, my knee is doing pretty bad, and my wife is waiting for the results of new blood samples.

Did I mentioned that, besides having good doctors, in Italy the weather is gorgeous and the food is great?