Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Thoughts on Healthcare: Recovery Time in the US vs UK

I like to think that I have good insurance. Listening to friends throughout the country, I can admit that maybe I even have really good insurance (although I'm still made that I didn't have my own room to recover in at the hospital and instead had to deal with maximum crazy in my roommate).

That said, I also have a number of friends in Canada, and acquaintances throughout the globe, and so every so often I'm faced with the fact that no, I do not have good healthcare.

I won't even delve into the ridiculousness that is America's maternity leave policy here because it's not one I'm qualified to talk about. What I will talk about is my own recovery from surgery to remove my uterus and fallopian tubes.

After I got home from my surgery - during the nights I couldn't sleep because I was in too much pain and couldn't take any pain medication (I'm allergic) - I had a lot of time to watch Netflix and read the internet. While doing so I stumbled across a message board for women who have gone through hysterectomy surgery. Through that message board, I found a number of threads from women from all walks of life, but what struck me was the difference between what I saw between women from the US and women from the UK.

My doctor wanted me up and walking the day after my surgery. She has stressed, repeatedly, that I should be exercising 40 minutes a day. A number of women from the UK posted that their doctors wanted them to "take it easy" and not "do too much" before they were ready (this usually meant no activity until two weeks post surgery). Those women from the UK talked extensively about the minimum three months they had to recuperate, with some getting extensions from their doctors. I have two months off work to recuperate. One woman talked about her doctor sending her home with special underwear and an abdominal brace. My doctor didn't send me home with anything. Even my sister, who is a nurse in a labor & delivery ward in a hospital, asked if I had been sent home with anything like that. I ended up buying my own after reading the message board and they took so long to arrive that by the time they came I'd spent days in agony.

Basically, what I'm getting at is that I think that in the US our healthcare system isn't really set up to deal with women like me. I had organs removed from my body, and all I'm hearing is that I should be well on my way to recovery but I hurt like hell.

You hear that America. I hurt like hell.

My incision burns all the time. I cannot sleep on my stomach, despite that being my favorite position to sleep. When I do go to bed, I'm uncomfortable and I fall asleep uncomfortable. When I wake up, I hurt. I can't laugh, cough, sneeze, or do anything that is remotely normal activity. But to hear people talk, I should be up and at 'em by now. And yet I'm not. I hurt. I'm sore. I don't feel well. 

I think I'm feeling sorry for myself.


  1. I'm sorry you're sore and not feeling well. I've never had a hysterectomy but I have had two c-sections, and I think the takeaway is that health care in the US is wildly inconsistent. After C-section 1, my staples were removed too early, my incision got infected and reopened. I had no abdominal binder, I was horrifically swollen and not told what to expect (and given a fat ton of sodium in the hospital food) and my pain medicine didn't work well. After C-section 2 (at a different hospital, with a different doctor), I was given a binder without asking, I was told to drink lots of fluids to reduce swelling and given lower sodium food, I was supported in walking around instead of just told to, and my incision was stitched and glued and healed very quickly. Are you allergic to all pain medications? You should talk to your doctor about pain management and at a minimum be given super strong ibuprofen. Hugs

  2. The swelling is out of control. I'll wake up and be somewhat normal, but by the end of the day I feel like my stomach is on par with the balloons that took the house in UP away. My skin burns and is itchy too, which I can only assume means that I'm bound for some lovely stretch marks in the near future.

    Regarding pain medication, the only thing I can take is Ibuprofen. And it's okay, but it's not terrific. Since I have GERD, it also messes with my gut so I have to be careful how much I take and when I take it. I'm trying not to take too much because I don't want to deal with GERD and the rest of my pain (I say that as I'm dealing with a particularly nasty case of something brought on by last night's dinner).


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