Tag Archives: Healthcare

36 Hours and a Bionic Implant

I suppose it is time to talk about this.

Through last winter I (Ashley) was feeling very breathless, I put it down to the smoke and air pollution, used ventolin, it seemed to help a bit.  Then in late January when I was in the UK I started having chest pain.  I put it down to the severe cold and since the discomfort wasn’t particularly disabling and stopped if I rested I did not think too much of it.

Then once back in Selçuk I decided it was probably a good idea to go see my family doctor.  Things happened fast.  An ECG was done, she was worried about it so an ambulance was called to take me to the local hospital.  They did more tests and another ECG.  This resulted in another ambulance and then being blue-lighted to Medical Park, a big private hospital in Izmir.  They did some more tests, wired me up for monitoring, filled me up with some pills, and scheduled an angiogram and potential angioplasty for the following day.  I’m not sure what all the pills were but they made me drowsy so I don’t remember a great deal.  I Know Hilary was there, I know lots of forms were signed, I know some bits were explained to me, and there are some gaps.

Next day after more sedation I get taken in for the angiogram, during which they followed up with an angioplasty fitting one stent.  This was followed by a few hours in a Cardiac ICU before later that evening being moved back out to a more regular ward.  This was good, I did not like ICU, though to be honest I slept through some of it.  At least on the regular ward Hilary was able to be present so I had some company and the sedation had worn off.

The following morning I got to see the cardiologist again, was told that one artery was 90% blocked, that a medicated stent has been fitted, that there are some other arteries with a  bit of build up but nothing to worry about.  I was told to lose weight, watch diet, put on a regime of pills, clopidogrel, aspirin and a statin, and sent home.  They said to rest for 24 hours and then return to normal activity, and obviously if there were any problems to go straight back, and with planned follow up in one month.

I spent 36 hours in a modern and swish private hospital, with state of the art equipment and everything that could be expected in terms of care, a major physical intervention, and time in ICU.  The cost to me, zero, all picked up by the Turkish state health insurance I pay.  The care was generally fantastic, though to be honest these days it all runs through clinical pathways.  The doctors did what they needed to do and seemed extraordinarily competent.  The nurses do less than they do in the UK, here family or friends are expected to attend to basic stuff, what they did do they did efficiently and by the book.  It’s tick box nursing, but at least they followed the protocols and if there was reason to escalate they did so.   It was my first (and hopefully my last) major encounter with health care here in Turkey, all I can say is the standard of care was fantastic and as said all picked up by state health insurance.

I’ve lost weight since then, 5 kilos or so, something which needed to happen.  The cholesterol is down and where it needs to be.  Lifestyle changes have been made.  Clopidogrel is a pain in the proverbial, if I cut myself I bleed more, but I’ll be on it for a while.  I’m now on follow up every three months and the doctors are very happy with my progress.   So all good, onwards and upwards to new things in life.

Catch 22

A couple of weeks ago we went off to Izmir with a load of documents all in a nice pink file to renew our residence permits. Beforehand we had researched what was needed, most of which we had to hand or could scan at home. What was left was some sort of proof of health insurance. We have GSS, the state health insurance which is managed from the SGK office. We knew it was a bit of a catch 22, health insurance is needed in order to apply for a residence permit and a residence permit is needed to have the state health insurance. We were wondering if or when this might trip us up.

Anyway, we went to the SGK office and explained we needed proof of health insurance for our applications for a residence permit. They printed off some papers, stamped them, signed them and handed them to us. We put these in our pink files and dutifully headed for Izmir. In Izmir, we took a ticket and waited in line. Just as it was about to be our turn, the office closed for lunch. But we were told to keep our number. When the office re-opened we were first to be seen and, after a bit more running round paying fees and getting the receipts copied (an enterprising gentleman has set up a tea stall and photocopy service in the grounds) it was all done and paid for. Three hours from start to finish (including the one hour lunch break). We have proof that we have applied to extend our residency and all we need do now is wait for the new permits to arrive in the post, probably according to the police in Izmir in a month or two.

Then a week before official date of expiry of our existing residence permits, we headed to the local GSK office to renew our GSS. We were told it could not be done, that we cannot be entered onto the system until we have the new residence permits. This prompted a lot of running around before we established this was actually the case, that until the new residence permits arrive we cannot renew our GSS. This is because we can’t be reinstated on the system until we have the new permit number (our kimlik numbers, which will remain the same, are not sufficient).

Of course we still need to pay the GSS premium every month, despite not being able to claim on it, and right now we are left with no health insurance. It is rumoured that should we need hospital care we can claim the cost back when we can complete the GSS renewal, but this is rumour and it is not something we want to test. It is all a bit frustrating.

We have now got ourselves some accident cover so if one of us falls and breaks a leg it is covered. If we have an accident on the bike we are covered for injuries. It also covers breakdowns, accidental damage at home and some other bits, and given how little it cost was a pretty good deal.

Next year we will start it all earlier. Residence permits can be applied for up to 60 days in advance. Long enough normally for the new ones to arrive before the GSS needs to be renewed – well in theory. It is slightly more complex for us and with a tighter time frame because Ashley’s residence permit expires a month later than Hilary’s and despite Hilary being on Ashley’s GSS policy her cover expires when her residence permit expires. So we only have 30 days to play with, which we are hoping will be sufficient. The system is still new – it only came into force in April and, at some point, new offices will be set up so that applications will not have to be sent to Ankara to be processed. Perhaps that will be in place in time for next year, perhaps not…