As I live in the Republic of Ireland, we are not lucky enough to have the services of the NHS and, whilst there is public health care, everything has a price. For example, a trip to A&E will cost you €80 and the price of the meds you might be prescribed can soon escalate to €50. Back in November 2018 I ended up in A&E in Dublin – yes, I know, been here a year and already tested out plenty of the Irish Hospitals. I had caught gastroenteritis from somewhere and I was in a lot of pain. That little interlude of ill health cost me €80 for A&E, €40 for a cocktail of drugs, €40 for a follow up trip to the GP and no wages for the week. Tricky times!
With this in mind, we took the decision to join VHi which is private medical cover. There are several companies to choose from here but I think VHi would be the most well known. The company I work for allowed me to join their company scheme which was a huge benefit as a company scheme takes ‘existing conditions’ into account. Had I joined just as an individual I would have had to wait five years for any melanoma treatments to be covered. I definitely didn’t have five years – I swear at this stage I could feel the damn lump growing by the hour (not to be too dramatic of course).
As you will have seen on my previous blogs, I needed an MRI, I needed it quickly and I was not prepared to go back to Tralee Hospital after the biopsy incident. The wait list at Cork University Hospital was several weeks which would have hindered my operation date further. I spoke to VHi for some advice – they were fantastic. They advised me that my policy covered me for certain procedures at private hospitals and that the Bon Secours Hospital in Tralee had an MRI service. A referral letter was sent to them and I was given an appointment within two days.
Private health care is a whole new world! So for starters, when I arrived to the reception area of the MRI Suite, only two other people were waiting and they were happily watching Escape to the Country on the tv in the extremely tidy waiting room. The magazines were from this year – no 2010 half torn Prima mags here. The receptionist greeted me with a smile and already knew my name – I felt I’d moved into the Twillight Zone. I’d barely got to the price of the mystery house when a nice young man came to collect me for my MRI – no listening out for your name being shouted up and down the corridor by a harassed nurse.
Since all of this has started, my veins have pretty much gone into hiding. They were never much for sharing blood – I was told not to come back to give blood a few years ago as I was a time-waster; but in the last three months they have taken on some kind of invisibility cloak. Katrina (guardian angel nurse) advised me to tell all medical people that I have fragile veins. I passed on this piece of information to the nice young man and he nodded but didn’t seem to take a huge amount of notice. I prepared myself for the usual seven attempts and a black & blue arm.
Once gowned up, I headed off to the MRI machine. I was only having a scan of my chest and abdomen so the rest of me was wrapped up in a warm blanket – honestly, I was born for private health care. After 45 minutes in the machine, the nice young man helped me out of the machine and said I could get dressed. I questioned him as to why I’d not had the dye put in. He explained that once I had told them I had fragile veins they didn’t want to put me under undue stress so they called a doctor to view the MRI as I was in the machine to ensure they could see what they needed without the dye! I was still in shock when they came back to me with a cup of tea and a CD of my MRI to take to CUH the following week. I tell you ladies & gentlemen, if you can go private and your morals & purse allow you to, do it.
Thankfully, the MRI results were all clear and the go ahead was given for the surgery. When I had started this, I had hoped to be over the surgery by the end of July but with the different scans and bank holidays, the surgery was booked for 12 August. I knew that in the big scheme of things, this had moved quickly, but I had hoped to go to a wedding in the UK on 23 August, this was now impossible.
My disappointment was huge and my blood pressure soared…..