Doctor Doctor I feel like a pair of curtains…
Well pull yourself together then!
Following on from yesterday’s post all about my constant allergies and getting ill all the time, I thought it might be interesting for me to tell you all about my experiences of going to the doctors here in Germany.
It’s hard for me to compare the experience with England, as I have never visited my GP (doctor) in London for a cold before. I had the pleasure once in Japan and once was enough (I will save that story for another time). Up until now my jobs have always involved sitting down. So even when I’m not feeling up to it, I shoved myself into the packed tube and sat at my desk feeling sorry for myself, but not really struggling too much. However, working at UNIQLO it’s impossible if you feel really rough. All day you have to run around and standing for more than eight hours is painful. Add to that the constant questions from customers and rushing around the shop-floor and it’s a recipe for disaster.
So, the first time I felt absolutely horrendous I needed a doctor. In Germany, you legally have to sign up for health insurance when you arrive and plan on getting a job. It’s expensive. I am with TK and I pay 300 euros a month. YUP – it’s a lot of money. So when I felt like death, I thought it was time to get something from all the money I pay out to the TK and see what the service is like. One word: Amazing! It’s different to the UK, in that you don’t have an assigned General Practitioner who you go to for problems. You can choose any doctor in the country. You can put your postcode into a website and it comes up with local doctors and their specialities. You can also refine your search to find doctors who speak English etc if required. Many places come with reviews by patients and I basically just picked the place closest to home that was open. Interestingly, they are scattered all over the place. There must be about 10 different practices within a 500 meter radius of our place. They are often just inside huge houses that have been converted into flats – so three rooms will be for the doctor or dentist and then the rest of the flats will be occupied by residents.
I have to admit, the main reason I went to the doctor was to get a sick note. I have never needed one before, as I just plodded along to work and hoped no one would talk to me. But that’s not possible at UNIQLO, so I needed to get that sheet of paper and quickly. It took less than twenty minutes from walking into the door to leaving. I read online that when you walk into a doctor’s waiting room, it is custom to greet the other people waiting in the room with you. A quick “Guten Morgen” will suffice. Very different from back in London, where you would pick the chair furthest away from anyone sick and avert your eyes.
The lady who saw me was very pleasant and interestingly asked me to speak at a 90 degree angle away from her, so my germs wouldn’t be directed at her when I spoke. Then she told me she doesn’t believe in medicines and gave me a load of herbs. I even got some blood taken. It was quick and painless and after a five minute chat, I was done. I took my three tiny herb tablets and she sent me on my way with my sick note in my hand. Let’s just say the herbs didn’t do much and I was ill for many more days.
Then a few weeks ago I got double illness added to crazy allergies and was totally wiped out. I picked a doctor even closer to home, after trying and failing to find a doctor in the area who was open on a Saturday or Sunday. This lady got straight down to business. I had to remove my top and she prodded and poked and listened to my lungs and in the end I received 5 different drugs all relating to allergies. I don’t even know if she knew I was sick. Haha. Anyway, I got my sick note and a whole load of medicine that is still sitting in the cupboard unopened, but the best thing was that she has recommended an allergy doctor to me and I shall be going next week to find out hopefully what I’m allergic to. Quite exciting times over here…