I live in Europe and am fortunate to live in a country where the government recognize the value of preventative treatment. Compared with my home country, what this offers patients is the means to be treated or diagnosed before problems become so big that they are not only costly, but life threatening.
It’s a refreshing change to see my doctor and know that at every visit, I will have my blood pressure taken, my weight, and my heart listened to, but not only that. Doctors here keep an eye on patient knowledge and understanding of their bodies, encouraging patients to take a certain amount of responsibility themselves for their own health.
In the UK, you really are not offered the alternative blood tests available to human beings unless you ask for them. In France, they are openly offered, and can give a patient a better understanding of illness prevention. For example, having blood tests can determine risk factors that a patient can then work on, with the help of their doctor. My blood tests showed up levels of cholesterol that I never knew I suffered from, and simply tackling this with diet with the help of my doctor stopped that problem in its route and led to my being aware of the dangers of consequence if I ignore the symptoms and signs shown by a simple blood test.
I have suffered minor stroke, and here again, I am tested at regular intervals and medicated so that blood thins and is less susceptible to stroke. It took my father years before this was recognized in the UK and by the time it was, expensive surgery was necessary, making all the savings that his doctors had made by not offering him the right options and treatment not at all cost effective. Mine was controlled immediately, I was able to treat it, and have regained full health, being made aware of ways I can prevent it from happening again. In my fathers case, he lived for years on disability payments, whereas in my case, early diognosis meant that my time on benefits was limited to a month.
Early intervention, or being prepared makes the world of difference and in order for it to work, patients need to be informed about what is available to whom, and why. The attitude towards health here in France is amazing, and what it does is make me, as a human being, much more aware than my counterparts in other countries of what looking after your health means to longevity and also to the avoidance of treatment that in the end costs the government more money, and the patient more body stress.
For six years in the UK, I was treated for tiredness, dismissed as a woman because they thought it was due to my lifestyle. Blind treatment and ignoring things that need diagnosis make the whole process less efficient. On my first visit for tiredness to a French doctor, I was offered blood tests for areas which could cause tiredness, and what it revealed was hypothyroidism, something easily controlled by medicine, but if left untreated could cost a fortune to rectify, because of the stress on the body that long term hypothyroidism causes, and because of the sick pay I would have had to claim for years simply because a doctor was too idle or disinterested to diagnose correctly.
The argument for early intervention really does matter and many doctors simply put their heads in the sand and think the problem will go away, with a prescription and a smile. It doesn’t work.
Care for your health and prevent those nasty surprises.