Every time I come back to Poland, first thing I do is going to the doctor’s and the pharmacy. Later on, one half of my hand luggage is filled with medication, the other half – with meat chops or pâté made by mum.
Sometimes the universal English ‘antibiotic,’ more commonly known as ‘paracetamol,’ just won’t work, the illness attacks more aggressively and the body needs to be supported by something stronger so that it doesn’t lose the battle. One goes to the doctor’s. In Poland – it’s pretty obvious. One leaves the surgery with a pile of prescriptions and the whole list of medications. In Britain – not necessarily.
I live in a bay area and very often it so happens that we, both the Polish and the English, suffer from… sinuses. ‘Sorry, it must be the climate,’ as the natives would say. I went to the doctor’s one time, thrilled that I could actually get an emergency appointment. My nose was running a marathon, my ears were blocked so much that the pain was merging the grey and white matters in my brain. However, the doctor was adamant that an antihistamine from under the counter should be enough. If not, I was supposed to come back in a week’s time.
After a week of mainly Polish traditional self-treatment (such as garlic), not only could I not hear, but also I couldn’t speak. Probably not enough vitamin C in the onion I was eating. My larynx was totally infected (voicelessness), a breathing problem started. I came back to the doctor’s. The same one as last time. He looked at me and shrugging his shoulders he asked:
“But what do you expect from me? I can’t prescribe any antibiotics as I can’t see any reason to.”
I am not criticising the British health care.
But what does this history tell about us, Poles? It’s enough to watch the commercials on our Polish TV during dinner or supper. A medicine for flatulence. A medicine for lack of flatulence. A medicine for a dry eye. A medicine for haemorrhoids. For the whites. For itching. (Meat chops immediately taste better during such a run :-))
Can we, Poles, be treated at all abroad? In Britain, TV and radio commercials regarding any medication are so rarely emitted that sometimes I think they’re banned. Aren’t they?