Monday, 18 June 2007

It’s not your mother’s medical system.

On Thursday night I had an ‘episode’ that required my poor child to show amazing calm and maturity, not to mention a stretch of her linguistic skills. Q came upstairs around eleven p.m. and found me post seizure, sprawled half-on-half-off the bed and not breathing (ten year medical history too boring to go into). Not a fun night for the child.

She put in a call to a couple of fellow Fulbrighters, one of whom has a Moroccan boyfriend with a car. Once I was coherent again, she walked me downstairs and out to the car. My little escort took me to the emergency room on the posh side of town where I was taken, now hold on people this is a shocker – taken immediately (did you get that? No forms, no waiting, no questions) in to see the doctor. Now granted the ER doctor was an anesthesiologist… They use the old British method of rotation of staff physicians, so what you get depends on whom you get. This chap was competent enough, gave me something to settle my stomach, took a history, and set an appointment with the neurosurgeon on Friday morning (the last appointment I had with a neurologist took me three months to set).

We went in Friday morning, (again with the no waiting) had the exam by the Neuro chap and off to the MRI. No line, no waiting. Disposable sterile needles and syringes, oh yes I checked. Q was fabulous with the medical terms, as she has been watching the last seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy” in French. She was very proud of her medical linguistic skills. How fortunate her grandmother got her hooked on this particular piece of television fluff.

Now here is the part where you need to steady yourself, the cost of the ER visit was 300 dirhams (36 usd/ 19 pounds); the cost for the MRI with contrast, film and CD was 3070 dirhams (186 pounds, 379usd). Total, that’s it. Now I admit I would prefer a hospital in Boston or London if I had to have invasive procedures or if I didn’t already know my diagnosis, but as far as diagnostic tests it is actually less expensive to take a ride down to Rabat, have the test done and take the results back to your doctor in the west. Now that tells me we are doing something wrong that our medical cost are that far out of whack. The last MRI I had in the U.S. was around two or three thousand dollars. I don’t know because no normal person would ever pay that money, we pay for the insurance. That is quite a difference.

On Saturday morning we returned to the clinic and picked up the pictures from the MRI and the CD. I had to have contrast (so they can see the itty bitty vessels), which was the extra 70 dirhams in cost. The secretary gave us a prescription to refill the dye for the clinic! She sent us to the apothecary one block down to fill the prescription, and then bring the dye back to the clinic. Not the most efficient of methods, but at these prices I didn’t mind the walk. All that being said, I'll take western medicine and the quality control that comes with it; better yet I'm all for preventative measures of exercise and proper diet.

Interestingly enough the clinic is across the street from the best French restaurant in the city for lunch. We were just there on Wednesday!

That is also why I was silent over the weekend. I was doing the recuperation thing. I am fine now, a bit worn about the edges but that will mend itself by week’s middle. That’s it for this week’s episode of ER Moroccan Style.


The Good Woman said...

Amazing. People here still marvel at my reluctance to fall pregnant while in the care of the NHS. Its not that I don't think they know what they're doing, its just that paid medical care in the third world is so much more attentive - and, frankly, not that expensive...

I do hope you're all better now Lady M. I missed you.

Omega Mum said...

Hear, hear to Good Woman. Is it any consolation that it's marvellous blog material - a slightly twisted way of thinking which I am finding incredibly consoling. My A&E French is limited to 'Cette nouvelle blessure l'a acheve' (this additional wound has finished him off) - which has not, so far, come in useful, I'm pleased to say. (My only Welsh phrase, in contrast, is 'It has been raining' - can't write it down...)

Anonymous said...

I hope you are OK, and recover or whatever quickly. People always seem amazed when anyone criticises the NHS - but the real truth is that it is rubbish! Nice people etc but a totally rubbish way to organise medicine.. Almost everyone else in the world does it better than the UK - so why not Morocco?

lady macleod said...

good woman

Yes, all better. A bit slow yet, but feeling sassier every day. thank you for coming by.

omega mum

i will admit that once we all knew i was not for dying, it occurred to me that's one less blog entry to worry over.
i think you are safer in Wales than France my friend, albeit i know just how "he" feels about that "additional wound". thank you for coming by.

Annie said...

I'm with the Good Woman on having a baby under the NHS - precisely why both mine were born in the USA!

Amazing the cost difference - makes you wonder doesn't it?

Hope you're feeling better - and, I've been with someone during and after a seizure, and it's not that frightening, when you know the reason behind it. I'm sure Q is fine :)

Brillig said...

Yikes, Lady M! But what a story. The one little tiny strep-test I took this week cost more than all of that put together. How does that possibly make any sense?

Glad to see you're back. I hope the full recovery comes swiftly.

lady macleod said...


I am sure there are good points about the NHS as well as bad..and don't misunderstand me, there are certain procedures I would put myself on a plane home for snappy quick - like anything involving blood exchange! I am pleased my little emergency went well, I am peachy. thank you for coming by.

lady macleod said...

thank you annie

Q is fine, you are right; it's just I'm still the mum you know.. I hope you are getting settled back into home life. thank you for coming by.


I know! I assume it all has to do with the 'system'. As Q pointed out, what seems so inexpensive to me is a great deal of money to the average or even prosperous Moroccan. I think we are all enormously lucky to have the choice eh? thank you for coming by.

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

I'm so glad you're better and that you had good care. The old NHS vs. other health-care debate is a long one. I came from the U.S., had both my babies on the NHS (and the free prescriptions and dental care that came with it). There are problems with both systems, but there are plusses with both as well. But Morocco sounds like a nice alternative.

I Beatrice said...

I'm so glad you told us about this after the event, rather than during! It's worrying enough this way - but thank God you seem to have come through it all right.

But do try to take it just a little easy for a while, won't you? You have been writing so hard, and it takes its toll, as I know only too well. Have a little rest before you tackle the next big thing - your devoted public will wait!

And to think you were going through all THAT - while I was having all the joy of being at Glyndebourne, listening to Rossini at his most sparkling best...

( La Cenerentola - Cinderella, as you and I have never heard her portrayed before!

lady macleod said...


Thank you, I am glad to BE better, I can soooo think of better ways to spend the evening. I think you are too right that there are pluses to both the US and NHS system. thank you for coming by.

i beatrice

I am pea green with envy! I can only stand it because it was not my Verdi. It sounds as though it was wonderful? I am pleased for you. Ah the opera...
thank you for coming by.

Jeremy Jacobs said...

What's the opposite of modesty then?

mutterings and meanderings said...

Oh Lady M, you are going through the mill healthwise at the moment. Look after yourself hun.

lady macleod said...


Having someone shoot dye into your brain?
thank you for coming by.


thank you but I'm fine now. thank you for coming by.

taamarbuuta said...

Glad you're feeling better!

The private clinics here are good, but I had the unfortunate occurrence of having to take people to the public hospital in Meknes, twice. Last time, I took my mother-in-law after she inhaled too many cleaning chemicals with windows closed - they put her in a room with another woman, put oxygen tubes up her nose that looked like they'd never been washed, there was blood on the floor, vomit in a wastebasket in the room, and some bloody guy dripping in the waiting area, with no one helping him.

I'll stick to private clinics, which are just as affordable for me!

lady macleod said...


oh my giddy aunt! I am so very pleased to say that was NOT my experience, and I am sorry it was yours.
Tell your mother-in-law she really needs to find another way to get high...that could be dangerous. just kidding of course. I hope she is well.
thank you for coming by.

Shauna said...

Oh dear. Take care. Get some rest.

Andres Carl Sena said...

i just has and MRI not too long ago, 1500 dollars. second place for blog outside UK and north america. i say, you got robbed in that regard. best blog in my opinon. health care in the US is good if you have money, atrocious if you don't. glad to see Q knows her grey';s anatomy frech style.

jennifer said...

Hi Lady Macleod- I'm about to return to the land of health insurance, and I must admit that it's one of the downsides of leaving Europe. I find that I've been away so long that I don't even understand the basic language of insurance in the US, and I feel flustered and stupid, like I don't know how to best take care of my family.
I hope you are well.

debio said...

I thought all wasn't well when the blog was static for so long - so good to have you back and do give yourself some 'r&r'.

The medical system here sounds very similar to Morocco. When my daughter had her karting accident there were no forms, no visa checks - zilch - and she was checked out by an orthopeadic surgeon. The only, and recurring, difficulty was that they could not understand that she was a girl (she was still in her race suit) and kept transferring her to the male area - which presented a problem because I was with her!

lady macleod said...


I'm well. I shall. I am. thank you for coming by.

andres carl sena

Oh dear why were you visiting the room of piercing rays in a coffin? Thank you for your kind support (kiss kiss). Yes, I am very proud of Q, and she was so calm! thank you for coming by.


No, no, not stupid - just out of the loop for a while eh? It's just like anything else, you will get back into the routine and be slugging it out with Blue Cross before you know it! I have no doubt you will take quite good care of your family; the tigress instinct will kick in! Chin up. thank you for coming by.


Thank you, glad to be back. Very big on the surgeon in our part of the world eh? Oh no the male ward! That would indeed cause some ruckus. thank you for coming by.

pluto said...

Really glad you recovered. Must have been a huge shock for both you and Q. And here's hoping you don't have any more seizures like that one.
As for the idea of travelling from abroad to Rabat just for cheap treatment, I remember reading the memoir by Jan Morris where she nips down from England to Morocco for her sex change op. That must be a bargain, just like MRIs! (Worth keeping in mind too perhaps.)

Bogger Blogger said...

Someone had a busy weekend. Glad to hear you're okay and nice to learn a bit more about other health services, of course culture, diet and economy all have positive and negative impacts wherever you are. Mint tea must be very good for you....mmmm, mint tea....

KarenO said...

Goodness me I'm glad you're feeling better! Thanks for your comment on my blog yesterday, it's always so nice to see your name over there :)

The NHS in South Africa is uhm well no comment. The situation in most of our hospitals during the strike since 1 June is worse than ever. I could tell you some hair-raising stories but I'll wait till you feel much much better! *grin*

lady macleod said...


Sex change? Unless you have privy to some data I am unaware of my dear, dear, man - I quite enjoy being a girl. I think I will keep the original equipment, but thank you for the heads up. That and the fact I'm not on for anything involving blood exchange... I am assuming that uh..procedure..uh..would.
thank you for coming by.

bogger blogger

that's it, it was the mint tea! Bloody miracle cure. think we can market that out the back door of the cottage? tell the tourists the fairies had to do with it, they'll believe anything. We may be onto something here...
thank you for coming by.


I always enjoy a visit over to see you dear. I am pleased to be better! Yes, hold off on the "hair raising stories" just now, give me another week or so:-)
thank you for coming by.

Kaycie said...

I am reading several days late and I am sure you are feeling loads better by now. Good to hear that you and Q have such good support there in Morocco.

I'm positively jealous of the reasonable medical costs. I just had the children's teeth cleaned and it was $160/each. Ugh.

jmb said...

This is an amazing story since, avid medblog reader that I am, I am usually reading the horrors of the NHS or people waiting for hours in the ERs of the old USA.
I hope everything is OK now, Lady M.
Take care

Trixy said...

I am so jealous. The letter from my GP to the neurologist took 3 days to be sent, and even though I am down as 'urgent' this means I may be lucky enough to see someone in a couple of weeks time!

And you saw them how quickly?

I'm moving to Morocco....

Hope your head is all sorted now


Miranda said...

Know this comment is a little late but...
I'm planning to spend some time in Morocco but I'm a little nervous. Your post did reassure me somewhat, though!

How is non-emergency medicine in Morocco? Especially for women -- are there gynocologists [who speak English?] What about contraceptives, feminine hygiene products, etc?