A painful ordeal

About a month ago, I woke up one morning in debilitating pain. It seemed like every joint was on fire, with my lower back in particular agony. It was an effort to get out of bed. I finally made it, took some Ibuprofen and called a Spanish friend to ask for advice. She asked if I could walk over to her house (a ten-minute stroll that took me 20 minutes) and she then walked down to the Emergency clinic with me.

Before I go any further, I should mention that I live in Spain, have legal residency and am covered under the Spanish medical system. We arrived at the clinic, and I was checked in within minutes. 5 minutes later I was in with a doctor describing my symptoms. 5 minutes after that, they were taking x-rays and had given me two injections; one for inflammation and one for pain + a prescription for some painkillers.

While they give you a prescription, it is for your own records and the pharmacies don’t need it. You simply walk into any pharmacy, hand them your medical card, and they fill it from the computer screen. This is unlike the US, where you have to specify which pharmacy you want to go to.

My total out-of-pocket expenses for 1st class treatment was less than $1 which, I believe, goes to the pharmacy.

A week went by with the aches and pains slowly fading. Then I woke up with severe pain in my right arm; in the muscle tissue below the shoulder. It was intense and I headed back to the emergency room where the same thing was repeated only, this time I was given three injections, one of which was cortisone and when I say it was a big needle, I’m not exaggerating. It hurt; a lot. This time, my out-of-pocket costs were $1.25.

However, this pain didn’t go away; it got worse and by the following Sunday, I was in excruciating pain. Back to the Emergency clinic who sent me to Elche hospital about 15 miles away. The taxi ride was about $27 each way. At emergency there I was registered and in with a level 1 consultant within 5 minutes where I explained what I was going through. They transferred me to the Trauma wing where I was immediately seen by a doctor who sent me off to x-ray, and I was back within 10 minutes, so he could review the x-rays. They showed nothing, which was not unexpected, but he said that he thought the pain was radiating from the shoulder itself, gave me some stronger painkillers and referred me back to my doctor.

The next morning, I woke up in worse pain than before. Every single movement was agony. To give you an idea of how much pain, I was in, I seriously considered going up to the roof and jumping off, but I wasn’t sure that 5 stories would finish me off.

My friend, Sally, who I owe a great debt of gratitude to, went to the emergency room and waited to see my doctor since I couldn’t have made it outside my door. He sent over a medic to give me another cortisone injection and yes, it was the same size needle as before, but I didn’t care. He also prescribed some transdermal patches, which I have on my arm. I have to go to the clinic for blood and urine tests and then on Monday I see the doctor to review those results, at which point he is probably going to send me back to the hospital for an MRI/imaging.

I’m still in pain, but it is now manageable and I can move, albeit slowly. So far, with 3 visits to the clinic, one to the hospital, the nurse doing the home visit, all the prescription medications and the taxis. I’m out of pocket less than $50. No, they haven’t figured out what is going on yet, but the care has been absolutely 1st class.

For those Americans to whom socialism is a dirty word, an obscenity, what I’ve just gone through is why socialism works and works extremely well. In the US, this would have cost thousands of dollars and the care would have been, lackluster, at best.

Let’s jump back to 2105. I suffer from Meunière’s disease, which is similar to an ear infection. Your balance goes, then you get ringing in the ears (Tinnitus) and shortly afterwards, the world starts spinning uncontrollably. You feel violently sick and can’t do anything other than lie down. It’s nasty, really nasty. My ex-wife insisted on calling an ambulance despite me telling her not to. The ambulance ride to the hospital (a ten-minute walk) cost $1345; the emergency room visit $1850, and the doctor was another $675; he spent less than a minute with me before scribbling a prescription for Alisen to take to the hospital pharmacy. There were 2 items on the prescription; one was for motion sickness pills ($5); the 2nd was for something else, but it was $1300, yes that’s one thousand three hundred dollars, at which point Alisen burst into tears. The pharmacist took pity on her and said that she would only charge us what it actually cost the hospital, but she had to promise not to tell anybody, which she did and ended up paying $13 instead of $1300. The hospital wanted to make 100 times the cost. Now, if that isn’t an obscenity, I don’t know what is. Preying on people at their weakest point is beyond disgusting.

Let’s get back to socialism which is where the government gives back to the people, for the benefit of the people, some of the monies collected from the people (taxes). In the socialist countries called Europe that means free medical care, which we pay, a little extra, in taxes for. In the US, that money goes to prop up 3rd world governments, fund black-ops programs and give tax breaks to the ultra-rich. Very little of it is used for the benefit of the people who live there. You only have to look at the crumbling infrastructure (roads, bridges, etc.) to know that is true.

What Americans label as socialism, isn’t socialism; it’s communism. Communism, as an ideal is not a bad idea, but in practice, it is where those at the top get rich beyond their wildest dreams and those at the bottom struggle to survive. Wait, that sounds familiar. In the US, it’s called something different; it’s called capitalism. The myth that socialism is bad is propagated by the very people who make money providing services that are covered in a socialist society. As usual, they want it all for themselves. The louder they scream, the more they have to lose. If you remember nothing else, remember that sentence.

So the next time, somebody tells you that socialism is evil, please tell them that they have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. They won’t believe you, but every journey starts with a single step.



World traveller, adventurer, FileMaker™ developer, author, motivational speaker, humorist, film maker

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Michael Rocharde

World traveller, adventurer, FileMaker™ developer, author, motivational speaker, humorist, film maker