Unfortunately, I will not be sharing the same experiences with you that my fellow colleagues have been sharing the past few days. How can you integrate into a community without getting the FULL experience? I took it upon myself to be admitted to the local hospital for an overnight stay in order to get an inside look at the national health care system. Kidding…it was completely unexpected and I, unfortunately, really had to take part in an overnight stay in the hospital here in Belfast for an unforeseen surgery. Things went well and I have already been released from the hospital so no worries. The experience was something that could absolutely never have been taught in a classroom and I fully witnessed the bitter end of N.I’s health care. I’m going to take this time to paint the picture for you and do a little comparing and contrasting of the health care systems. This blog is in no way intended to bash one system or the other, it is simply a pros and con’s opinion of each and based on your personality one may seem more endearing than the other. I ended up at the A&E (emergency room) at 11:30AM Monday morning with a waiting time of 7 hours and 30 minutes. And we think waiting 2 hours to be seen is bad? Due to the “seriousness” of my condition I was able to be seen in a measly two hours and 15 minutes. After being examined for literally 10 mintues, I was asked to sit in the corridor of the A&E to wait for the surigical team, in which I sat in pain for another four hours. For the most part, no one would even make eye contact with me and I couldn’t help but wonder if my lack of treatment had to do with being American, until I saw a young kid who waited just as long as I had that eventually came out of his cubicle with a knee high cast on and crutches. He obviously sat for hours, with a broken leg. I was then moved to the surgical A&E (I’m pretty sure they were sick of the impatient Americans asking questions every 5 minutes) where I sat for at least another 6 hours until I was see by a junior surgeon who had to consult with his senior surgeon…which took another 3 hours. Needless to say from the time I walked into the A&E to the time i was in my room in a bed I was there for 11 hours. My “room” consisted of me and five other women who were there for similar issues. I was not expecting 5 roommates, I’m spoiled, don’t we get our own rooms? Sounds miserable, right? Well here’s the upside. My experiences with hospitals in America have been somewhat less than satisfactory. Doctors are usually hard to find and they usually do not come to see you until later in the day, so you sit around wondering what is going on. I’ve also felt at times, people have been kept in the hospital longer than needed which sometimes can slow down the healing process. Laying in a hospital bed for three extra days can’t be good for blood flow or your mental health. I was woken up at 8AM Tuesday morning by a TEAM of doctors giving me the plans for the day. I was on an emergency list for surgery so it was hard to say when exactly I’d get in, but by 11AM I was being prepped for surgery. As far as my excessive amount of roommates, I am in a country with no family and a group of people I have only had the pleasure of really getting to know for 2 weeks, those women in my room were the highlight of my stay. I had wonderful conversations and was able to make light of the situation. Yes, privacy is nice, but what’s better than a genuine heartfelt conversation with someone when you are feeling nothing but loneliness and fear. I had surgery Tuesday morning and was released that evening, they don’t mess around here. And after all of that…my stay is cost free. So you wonder is 11 hours worth not having to pay a dime for care that would have been just as good elsewhere? Not to mention, the nursing staff walked around the hospital singing and as happy as I’d seen a nursing staff in my life. However, my personality doesn’t contain a whole lot of patience so I think I’ll stick to the quick and easy way of the American health care. But I will say, my experience with the national health care system left me pleasantly surprised. Knowing what I know now, I would do it all over again. And a special thank you to our wonderful TA who spent countless hours with me in the hospital, without you I would have lost my mind.