North Cyprus Medical Treatment
By Margaret Sheard
Back at the beginning of December 2013, when Chris was away in the UK for a couple of weeks, we had a particularly cold spell of weather in North Cyprus which resulted in the gas bottle having to be changed in the portable gas fire. I had done this many times previously but unfortunately as the gas bottle was tucked away in a rather awkward space I lifted it from a sideways position and -“crack” – I felt something go in my back. Since then I have been in agony and despite a few visits to the Orthopaedic Clinic in Karakum, taking painkillers, and a course of injections for 6 days at the local State Hospital, it didn’t seem to be improving.
By the second week in January I was getting pretty desperate so asked the Orthopaedic Doctor I had been seeing to give me a letter for an x-ray to reassure me there was not something else lurking in the area of my back. He told me my vertebrae will take quite a long time to heal but suggested perhaps I should have an MRI scan if that would give me some peace of mind.
I use Dağli Sigorta for my home and car insurance and as a customer I have the benefit of a 15% discount at the Kolan British Hospital in Lefkoşa so this is the hospital I decided to use for the scan.
On 8th January, we set off to Lefkoşa for the scan and also a urine test which the doctor thought might be worthwhile as well. We checked in at Reception and were directed to the appropriate department where after giving a few details and making the necessary payment (less the 15% discount), I firstly provided the urine sample and sat down to await the next test, the MRI scan. It was not long before I was taken to the room and the scan was done (about 15 minutes). We were told to come back in 2 hours for the results.
To while away the time we decided to go to the cafeteria for a coffee and a snack and a very amusing thing happened, we entered the lift followed by 2 young men, one of which said “are you Margaret, I have completed your urine test so you can have the results”. I couldn’t believe my ears as I didn’t see anyone when I deposited the sample in the area the nurse told me to leave it. I suppose it was the English accent but this is one of the lovely things about the people here.
After about 1½ hours we made our way back to the department and were immediately given the results of both tests plus a disc containing the MRI scan. So, from start to finish, the whole process took about 3 hours to complete together with the results and this was during the mid-day lunch period. Would this type of service happen in the UK, I don’t think so!
From the moment we arrived to when we left we were greeted with smiles and very helpful assistance, especially from Fatma who guided me through the process for the MRI scan, which I had never had before, and she really put me at ease. In fact everyone was so nice, including the cafeteria staff who took the time to joke with us as well as the usual smiling faces.
On the way home we called in at the Orthopaedic Clinic (no appointment made) and my consultant doctor looked at the disc on the computer and explained what was what, he looked at the report and confirmed it was very much in line with what he had initially diagnosed. The results of the urine test showed an infection which is probably the reason I have had a twofold dose of pain. Oh dear, more pills to take but I must say I feel like a weight has been lifted from my shoulders now that I know there is nothing sinister happening and it is a matter of clearing the infection and being patient with the healing of my aging bones.
Why people go back to the UK for medical treatment beats me, I think the service we receive in North Cyprus is excellent, we have to pay for it but why pay out for expensive air fares to go back to the UK for free treatment, which isn’t really free at all if you take into account the expense of getting there and the waiting time – appointment with doctor, referral to hospital, waiting for a date for tests and then waiting again for results. 3 hours for tests and results seems good to me.
Just as we were ready to leave we saw the familiar faces of Maria Chappell and her husband Vic. Maria said she has suffered with severe back pain for many years and she had come for the same process as myself, to have an MRI scan. We always say what a small community it is here and most times no matter where you go you are sure to bump into someone you know.
So to end this account of my experience I would like to thank the staff at Kolan British Hospital for their friendly assistance and Dağli Sigorta for saving me a bit on my bill. Also thanks to Chris for putting up with my frustration and bad temper for the last 5 weeks. I now feel assured that I just have to be patient and wait for nature to take its course and I can perhaps now get my brain in gear and concentrate on writing for the website again.