Category Archives: health issues

Unexpected encounter with Norwegian health care – Solvern

hospital waiting room with a fjords view

Playing catch up on posts:

Sadly I broke my arm during a great hike in the forest just north of our guesthouse/ hostel. I knew the minute I fell that my arm was the issue…unfortunately the same arm that broke my elbow 9 years ago. We ended up cutting our plans short with our new friends Christine (from southern China) and Alain (from Provence, France) and going first to a little clinic in the small town of Gaupne, where the very courteous and kind Dr then referred me to a small hospital about an hour away in Lærdal that has X-ray capability. The clinic was new and Nordic modern design. The hospital was a little dated in decor but man, what a view from the waiting room — of giant fjords mountains and we had to take a scenic ferry to get there.

Passing the time in the Lærdal hospital waiting room

The doctor on call arrived in casual clothes, with his walkie talkie and was gruff but kind in his way. I wasn’t surprised or happy to hear that my upper arm has a fracture but relieved that I didn’t need surgery…for now.  That would have meant driving two more hours to another hospital.

But now I am stuck with a cast from bicep to wrist on my left arm. It’s heavy and itchy. Painful at times but pain pills are helping and I am trying not to let it get me down. Apparently Norway doesn’t have an opiod issue. My prescription is for dozens of pills. Interestingly, the prescription can be filled anywhere in Norway. I just show up at any pharmacy, show my passport and get. Also, the medical bills came out to about $500/ A bargain compared to the U.S.

Reality bites

The dr mentioned that in July almost all doctors in Norway are on vacation. Not sure why he was available, although he assured me he is a doctor.  He specializes in knee replacements which apparently is big biz in the western fjords, due to the many outdoor activities t popular here. He also sees plenty of tourists like me for the same reason.

We returned home (and Eplet Bed & Apple really feels like home) to kindnesses and concern from other guests. Alain and Christine shared their homemade dinner with us, which was greatly appreciated. I met a mom and daughter who live in Brooklyn but the mom grew up in Des Moines. Small world.

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Thank you Justice Roberts!!

Okay, I know this is a travel blog but I just have to blog briefly about the U.S. Supreme Court’s health care decision (story below) – which is a huge relief and a very pleasant surprise. Thank you Justice Roberts!! I can’t remember the last time a piece of legislation – or a US Supreme Court decision on that legislation – meant so much to me on a personal level. The story below frames the decision as a political victory for Obama. I think it’s a victory for Americans, especially middle class/income Americans.  I remember all too well what it was like to lose employer-provided health insurance several years ago and to be denied coverage by other insurers because I have a pre-existing condition. I also worry a lot about coverage for my young adult children, especially given the precarious job market. And I saw the overemphasis on employer-provided health care as severely limiting the ability of many people (including me) who want to make a change – to move somewhere else and open a small business without risking the loss of insurance.

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The Supreme Court upheld President Obama’s health care law today in a splintered, complex opinion that gives Obama a major election-year victory.

Basically, the justices said that the individual mandate — the requirement that most Americans buy health insurance or pay a fine — is constitutional as a tax.

Chief Justice John Roberts — a conservative appointed by President George W. Bush — provided the key vote to preserve the landmark health care law, which figures to be a major issue in Obama’s re-election bid against Republican opponent Mitt Romney.

Obama is expected to comment on the decision within the next two hours.

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Sick from Panama trip

A week ago – in Panama City – I was battling stomach upset that I dubbed “Noriega’s revenge” – kind of reminded me of colonoscopy prep, enough said. But throughout the trip, I was staving off a vague headache, dizziness, and nausea. Oddly, or maybe not, that second batch of symptoms hit me hard about midday yesterday – after several days of feeling just fine. So yesterday I took to bed and spent hours trying to get my room to stop spinning. Today, I’m better but still wobbly. D. had something similar – that didn’t last as long but unfortunately marred dinner for him at the best restaurant we went to during our trip (La Posta – more on that later.) Several other people in our group got ill, ranging from the serious (a bacterial infection that sent one woman to the hospital; a diarrhea bout for one man that his doctor thinks was due to a parasite) to not-so (a little vomiting.)

The big issue in Panama and other Central and South American countries is dengue fever but from what I can tell from reading the symptoms, that’s not what D or I had. D did have a fever and some mosquito bites (which is how you get Dengue fever) but I didn’t. I did read that as of Jan. 17, Panama now offers all tourists free  emergency health care – as an incentive to boost tourism – and maybe that’s more useful than I realized. It’s good for the first 30 day of travel and includes top-level coverage during emergencies (although I see that it doesn’t cover accidents caused by extreme sports – so guess if I’d had a mishap while zip-lining I’d be out of luck…)

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Vacation-anticipation-induced illness?

Like clockwork, three of the four of us have come down with bad colds on the eve of our various departures for spring break vacations – which leads me to wonder if the timing of these colds has to do with all the craziness leading up to them, with the planning, worry, packing et.al.

Granted, March itself is a prime time for colds and flu – the weather is damp bordering on cold, with heaps of snow still on the ground and people still largely confined to indoor areas that are presumably swirling with germs.  But even in the summer before a trip, someone in our family tends to get sick. Which has me wondering  not only if there’s a connection between the anticipation leading up to a vacation and illness but if anyone has studied this – and if they’ve come up with any preventive advice.

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