Sunday, 13 March 2011

A good experience, for a change.

I am loving the NHS at the moment.   

Sometimes, I am simply amazed at how well the system works, considering that it is free, over-worked, under-staffed and abused on regular basis.

The other day, I had a moment of pregnancy paranoia. We, pregnant women, get those often.

The baby was not moving. I spent the day listening and thinking about it, and then decided to try calling the special delivery suite number I was told to ring should I be concerned. To be honest, I expected them to tell me to relax and not worry, or perhaps ask more questions. Instead, the lady exclaimed in a cheerful loud voice a lot of midwives seem to have ‘Oh, if you are at all concerned, just pop over, luv!’

Driving to the hospital, I expected a long and unpleasant day. ‘I bet there are queues of pregnant women sitting there for hours’, I thought. But as I walked in, another friendly face greeted me and happily nodded to the examination table. In a few minutes I was strapped to a monitor, checked quite thoroughly, and told the baby was just fine. ‘However...’She added, having looked through my notes, ‘last time you had your blood checked, the results showed that your sugar levels are slightly higher than we’d like them to be.’
‘So, she added sheepishly, as if about to ask me out on a date, ‘Would you mind coming for a glucose tolerance test? We would just like to double-check in case you are getting gestational diabetes...’

Would I mind? Of course I didn’t mind. I was just happy she looked in my notes, paid attention and noticed something might be wrong.

She explained, in an apologetic manner, that unfortunately, the process was ‘very tedious’ and would require me to starve for 12 hrs and then spend over 2 hrs in the hospital with them, giving blood, drinking the gross glucose solution and then giving more blood.

At the end, she said, they would give me a sandwich.

I was laughing, telling my friend about it. Imagine, I said, they are not only asking me if I would be okay doing it and apologizing that it would inconvenience me, but also offering me free food!
My friend was not too impressed. The thought of an NHS sandwich made her gag. ‘Yew! Yuck!’ She added. But let me tell you. When you are pregnant and had no food from the night before until 12pm the following day, you probably see things in a very different light. Also, to me,  the whole experience just proved once more that despite obvious problems with the system, the NHS is often simply amazing. Perhaps, it was my hormones again, but I was incredibly touched when a young student nurse kneeled next to my chair, asking me to kindly choose my sandwich. And there was a proper menu! And there was a huge choice! And, to be honest, the sandwich was really quite tasty. In the two hours I sat in their room, reading a book, the nurses chatted with me, made jokes, asked if I needed more water and if I was not too cold or hot.

And in another, separate recent incident (and I realize I sound like an old bag full of problems, but hey...such is my life) my annoying vertigo returned, and the GP prescribed some medication, assuring me it was safe in pregnancy. However, Google is your worst enemy, and after looking it up, I was not too confident.
So I called the 24-hr NHS helpline. Again, remember, it is a free service. All those people sit there for not that much money, in the evenings, listening to a lot of (often nuisance) questions. And I was prepared to be told it was not important enough or urgent enough, or to just listen to my GP and F off, to be honest. But, the woman on the phone listened very carefully, and asked if it was okay if a pharmacist called me back in an hour. To my surprise, he did call me back. He reassured me the drug was okay and spent some time on the phone checking my details and what doze I was prescribed. And, what left me completely gobsmacked in the end, was the additional phone call from some other polite woman I got in the morning. She just wanted to double-check that someone did come back to me and whether they resolved my issue, as promised. 

Come on now. Where else, I ask you, would you get this sort of attention for free?


  1. May be somewhere exist,but not in Azerbaijan.Your story is miracle,it is impossible for us even service is paid :-(

  2. Dear scary, i gave birth to two babies via NHS. and frankly speaking, i was amazed by their service. high level!!!! the staff is very caring. moreover, with first one i had a CS, before doctors decided to go for SC, they checked three times baby's heart condition taking his blood samples from not yet born baby!!!! and results came quickly it took max 10 min!!! so i take off my hat to NHS in my area.

  3. Free? You must be joking!! It costs billions and billions and billions. Actually almost £1800 for every man, woman and child in Britain per year. Not peanuts, that's for sure - but maybe good value for some, who knows.

    Still, good to hear they get some things right and I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  4. I guess those are the advantages of living in the First World. Good for them (and for you!), I'm pretty sure those volunteers would love to know you were so pleased with them.

  5. @Dr Von Steiner: I think we are talking about two different things here. You clearly are talking about the cost of this service to the NHS. I am talking about (the lack of) bribes, or astronimical figures you'd have to pay if chose to go private, lack of good service-even when paid (back home)...That kind of "free".

  6. 'Those damn immigrants using free healthcare that is being payed for with MY tax money! go back to africa you damn mexican! ' etc

    actually i went to the emergency thingy because a sick cat bit me pretty badly and i couldnt move my hand anymore etc, i too was surprised how friendly and caring they were (considering it was 3 o'clock in the morning)

    this happened in holland tho, not UK;O

  7. @Kaweh: Where are you from, yourself anyway? Just curious.

  8. Born in Tabriz, grew up in the Netherlands. 100% Azeri :D

  9. @Kaweh: Interesting. I was sure you were not Azeri. Maybe because you are from Tabriz/Netherlands.:)

  10. What made you sure I wasn't Azeri?
    Also, Tabriz is a purely Azeri city. You do know that Azeri's constitute the ethnic majority in Iran right?

  11. @Kaweh

    I do actually know that,yes. :)

    No idea why I thought you were not Azeri,it is not meant as an insult. Just thought you were not. Like I think you are probably male. But again, I migbt be mistaken and you might be a 13 year old girl. Internet can be tricky like that.

  12. I am a 13 year old girl with undeveloped breasts and self-esteem issues. Problem?

    I guess I should've introduced myself when I made my first post, here goes: I'm an Azeri male, 22 years old, born in Tabriz but had to get the fuck out because politics are cool like that. Grew up in the Netherlands (plural country name, fuck yea) but frankly can't wait to move out of here.

    And to answer the question that MUST be on your mind: Yes, I look like a Greek god.

    Without the tiny penis...

  13. Also, I never took it as an insult. I was just curious as to what exactly made you think I wasn't Azeri? You know, besides statistical odds...

  14. @Kaweh: Did the Greek Gods have that hmm... problem? I never thought about it, to be honest. :)

    Would you not think though, moving away from the tiny penises topic, that Azeris from Tabriz must be quite different from say, Bakuvians? I cant say I know many of ethnic Azeris from that area, but I would think we must be quite different, actually. But, that has nothing to do with my first impression. It is funny how sometimes, from just a few sentences someone puts online, I make an image in my head of the person. Sometimes someone I know might try to send me a comment anonymously, and I often can tell who it was! Bizarre. Not always, of course. Maybe it is just that we all have our voice, when we write something. Like an accent, but online. :)

  15. The only real difference that I could tell is the language. USSR Azeri's know Russian as well as Azeri, whereas Iranian Azeri's know Farsi as well as Azeri. The difference is that Iran has pushed and is still pushing a very aggressive assimilation policy which means that millions of Azeri's simply don't speak Azeri anymore, you can't have Azeri last names, give your bakery an Azeri name, Azeri education etc.
    Because it's difficult to tell Azeri's apart from 'Persians' they just completely assimilate. The perfect sellout.

  16. @Kaweh: That is true, but I was thinking of the cultural differences,too. The influence we had from the Soviet times, foods we cook,clothes we wear,etc. Anyway, sellout or not, my understanding is of Iran is that one does not get much of a choice whether to assimilate or not! Assimilate to survive.

    Speaking of the Iranian Azeris, maybe you know. Was he (Freddie Mercury) Azeri or not?

  17. "The only real difference that I could tell is the language. USSR Azeri's know Russian as well as Azeri, whereas Iranian Azeri's know Farsi as well as Azeri."

    Language is a big deal. Culture usually dovetails with language even more closely than with genetics/ethnicity, possibly because mutual unintelligability interferes with the diffusion of customs from one area to another.

    Although Ronald Inglehart's research only used two cultural dimensions, he provides a good visual for cultural clusters:

    Russia and Iran are some distance away from one another, but Azerbaijan shows up midway between them - right next to Armenia.

    (For more information see )

  18. I don't need to be convinced that language is important to maintain identity/ethnicity, which is why Iran's assimilation policy angers me. It's a violation of fundamental human rights for good reason. The purpose is to make everyone in the country speak Farsi (they like to call it persian, lol) in order to destroy opposition groups who might unite under the banner of an ethnicity. Much like forcing Irish to speak English and make USSR citizens speak Russian, nothing new really.
    What bothers me however is the people that fall for it, sellouts, degenerates. They, once assimilated, tend to become even more racist than the oppressing group. Probably desperate attempts to fit in.

    Inglehart's research is widely known but I remain skeptic. From what little I've read about it, it seemed to me yet an other attempt at modernism. I won't judge until I've properly read the actual work though.
    Also, I didn't find Azerbaijan and Armenia on the map, unless you were referring to their geographical positions?

    @Scary Yes, it's difficult not to assimilate but it's perfectly doable to teach your children Azeri as well as Farsi. However part of the policy is to make Azeri's look inferior and provide the superior Farsi culture/language as an alternative. Making Azeri's feel inferior about themselves and desperate to assimilate. Of course good old aryan racial theories are used extensively as well.
    I might add that the glorification of 'Persian' language and culture is something which is greatly supported by western intellectuals up to this day. In fact they (mainly the British) were the ones providing them with racial and linguistic superiority theories.

    And no, I don't know if Freddie 'lookslikeapedo' Mercury is Azeri but I sure as hell hope he isn't lol

  19. Poor Freddie, neither his talent nor his death could earn him a little respect.

  20. "I didn't find Azerbaijan and Armenia on the map, unless you were referring to their geographical positions?"

    You're not looking very hard. Check the middle-left on the graph I linked, and you'll see them, below Russia in the upper left and Iran towards the bottom.

    Unfortunately, I doubt further discourse will be particularly fruitful. If you're skeptical of Inglehart's research on other than scientific grounds, and if you reject Iranian policy because it violates "human rights," we simply don't have any common understanding.

  21. @Kaweh: Something for you to consider:

    Do you realize that Azeri language was practically forced on the people (I am referring to Russian- speaking Bakuvians)after the country became "independent"? At some point it was very unpleasant, if not dangerous to speak Russian on the streets. Do you know that I still get regular abuse and insults that I am not Azeri enough etc, across the internet, for saying that my first language is Russian (because it is true, what is the point lying?)?

    The same thing happened in some other ex-soviet republics, where other nationalities would be pushed slowly but clearly out by nationalists suddenly refusing to give them jobs, or simply even speak to them, after 70 years of it being the other way.

    @Nata: Yes, agree. Poor Freddie. Death alone of course, does not deserve respect, but worldly accepted talent surely does. But hey, he was gay, therefore probaby does not deserve Azeri roots!

  22. @Scary
    When Germany occupied France there were plenty of French people who adapted to their new master, when it occupied the Netherlands the same happened. They are what are called collaborators. And when the German troops withdrew they who were so quick to dismiss their own identity were often beaten sometimes even killed.
    Imagine France occupying Britain and imposing a Frenchification policy. As always there will be plenty of natives who are willing to adapt, such is conformist nature of humans. Can you imagine what those who refuse to adapt think of such people? Yes, I'm sure you can.
    As you've said, 'after 70 years of it being the other way', can you blame people for being resentful? No, you probably can't because you were amongst those who adapted, or perhaps that decision was made for you by your parents, either way. The Russian speaking intelligentsia for years looked down upon those who didn't speak the language of the new master, because they were unable or unwilling to crawl on their knees.
    With the Collapse of the USSR came American hegemony, and with it a new dominant language and culture. Like always there are those who are quick to adapt, and look down on their native/previous identity, an inferiority complex runs through their veins.

    I do not blame you or any of those people who were raised to speak a language, the decision was not theirs to make, and even if it was one can not be blamed for learning a language. However, this often goes hand in hand with ridiculing their original/native/previous identity/language/ethnicity due to desperate attempts of trying to be accepted and conforming to power. This kind of behaviour not only makes the actual person doing it look desperate and weak, it also means isolation from the previous group. Pick and choose.

    Speaking a language is one thing. Uncle Tom is an other.

  23. @Kaweh: Too heavy for me right now. And too complicated of an issue, really. I dont necessarily agree, but hey....we can agree to disagree.

  24. @Mark (Kaweh tried to post this but it did not work so he asked me to try for him)

    One should always be skeptical of any research regardless of
    it's quality or content, even more so when it's a research regarding
    human behavior.
    It is questionable even whether something as intellectually thin as
    the social sciences can be called science, let alone establish
    'theories' on scientific grounds. To dismiss skepticism of a research
    on human behavior because the skeptic lacks scientific grounds, is to
    express ones own ignorance regarding the social sciences.
    Either that, or it was a pathetic attempt at intellectual intimidation.

    My skeptic attitude towards his research resulted from his choice of
    words, namely: 'Traditional' vs 'secular-rational' values.
    This presupposes that 'traditional' is the irrational, the religious,
    the tribal, the animal instinct in man, whereas the 'secular-rational'
    is to be our human side, intelligent, modern, godless, industrial and
    so on. Nietzsche's Übermensch (not to be confused with the Nazi use of
    the term).
    Using these terms as parallel opposites to each other (As well as them
    being very ambiguous definitions), in light of our recent modernist
    past, as well as it's rebirth in a post 9/11 world, should make any
    human loving human skeptical of any such research. On top of one
    always having to be skeptical of any research, intellectual integrity
    and that sort of thing.
    I could explain further but I question the efficiency of preaching to
    an angry mob.

    However, as I've said in an earlier post, I'd like to refrain from
    making any serious comment on his research before I've properly read
    his work, as well as criticism of it and other literary contributions.
    This to me, seems like the only intellectually honest option one has
    in my position.

    As for Iran's policy, if you don't consider it to be a violation of
    fundamental human rights then:

    1) You're not aware of the actual policy that's being carried out.
    -Unlikely as I've explained in an earlier post.

    2) You don't know what fundamental human rights are.
    -In which case I strongly recommend you look them up before judging
    whether something is or isn't a violation.

    3) You know what the policy is as well as what human rights are, yet
    deny it anyway. \par
    -Making your comment fascist in nature. In which case I suggest you
    read up on recent history as well as some political philosophy
    (Bertrand Russell has a thing or two say regarding such philosophies).

    The United Nations too made a clear statement condemning Iran's racist
    policy, if you're interested.

  25. @ Kaweh: Sometimes people phrase things vaguely in an attempt to avoid conflict. I was hoping my previous post would clue you in to the fact that I'm disinterested in discussing things with you.

  26. @Guys! what is this heated discussion for anyway? Pointless! :) Chill and have a beer.

  27. @Mark, if you were disinterested in discussing 'things' with me you shouldn't have commented on an earlier post to begin with. It's like throwing a punch then saying you're not interested in a fight.
    If you lack the capacity to discuss these matters, which is becoming evident, then don't throw bricks, Glassjaw.

    Find an other place to express all that excess testosterone.

  28. Kaweh has a magic way of bringing any subject down to the one related to national issues. I don't want to do Kaweh here, but still can't stop myself from expressing my views to support what Kaweh had said. Sorry, Scary, I know you were talking about national healh services, and I promise I won't do it again.

    Our/Azeris' over capability of pleasing other nations by adopting their languages is one of our features that I really can't stand. It started about 200 years ago with Russian, and it is happening now with English, Turkish. I do appreciate the cause of this, as the main employers in Azerbaijan operate in these languages, and the parents try to provide their children’s future by giving them other languages in early years, but it is not a good reason for teenagers speaking English to each other, because the attend International schools, and not a good reason for young parents who studied in America for couple of years and now being back home speak English to their children and between themselves, and not a good reason for those who studied in Istanbul for couple of years to worship Turkish language, cousine, and speak Turkish in Baku. That I find embarrassing.

    Don’t get me wrong, I am for learning Russian, English, Turkish, Spanish, etc. But I am not for learning these languages at the expense of your own. I was born into a Azeri speaking family, my parents have a bit of nationalistic views, I have to admit, having said that they do speak Russian, German and a bit of English. I could say Russian is a second language for me, most of my friends are Russian speaking Azeries, I am married to an Englishman, I have half English daughter, but I have made damn sure that my daughter speaks my language first along with English of course due to her heritage, then other languages. And Kaweh, believe me, it is pure Azeri speakers that are often surprised and can’t get into their head why my daughter should speak Azeri: “She will probably study overseas, will not probably live in Azerbaijan, why to bother?”

    I think we are way away from having national pride. National pride is misinterpreted and not welcomed here and equated to potential conversion to fascism, unfortunately. And to my opinion it is the national pride we lack that makes us adapt so quickly.

    What is said is not meant to be offensive to any Russian speaking Azeries, everyone is entitled to have its own values and norms. I just shared mine.