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A New Experience - And One To Keep In Mind

Posted by Dinny, 03 August 2008 · 5,830 views

I realize it has been many months since I wrote something here in my blog. As usual, I am surprised how time just flies away here in Crete. Yesterday it was Christmas - and in a few days I shall be off for my summer holidays in Denmark, escaping the hot-hot weather for at least a couple of weeks. I am looking forward to seeing the "Northern part" of my family again! :-)

Still, until a few days ago I expected that I would have had to cancel the trip, because I was trapped in the hospital and not very certain about when they would let me out... Let me explain:

A couple of months ago I was feeling not-very-well, a sort of burning in my chest that lasted some 20 minutes. I was thinking about bad digestion? Too much raki? Too many cigarettes? Stress? But then, after these twenty minutes it all passed and I happily went on with whatever I was doing. Still, during the following weeks I kept getting small reminders, just a little burning for a few seconds or minutes from time to time, although I really tried to smoke less, eat decent food instead of all this souvlaki and bifsteki fast food I usually eat too much of, drink less, take time off from work to go on some long walks with Bella. My daughters were pushing me and driving me mad so, finally, I gave in and consulted a cardiologist in Mires. I had an EKG and there it was, black on white: "myocardial infarction, probably old". SHIT! Pardon my French!

My doctor sent me to have a series of blood tests done (70 euro) and most of the values were over the limit, cholesterol being the most scarry figure of them all. He insisted that I had to go to the hospital in Heraklion to have them test my heart to find out if it had suffered any damage or whether there were any obstructions which could cause another heart attack sooner or later. And here is where I would like all you dreamers of a new future in Crete to listen in closely, because it concerns many of you:

I objected that I could not go to the hospital, I have no insurance! As a citizen of the EU, you have the right to the same insurance as the inhabitants in the EU country you choose to live in. In Greece, that means: NO INSURANCE. Unless you are employed with all the papers in order, then you have IKA. Or if you have your own business, you pay you own private insurance or get TEVE or something like that, which means 2-300 euro to pay every month. I did try to get an insurance a couple of years ago, but you can only get insurance if you are in perfectly good health, and when you are almost 60 there will always be something in the machinery which is not in a perfect state. So at the time I did not get any insurance.

Well, my doctor insisted. He said that if I could go there Monday morning maybe they would just do one test and then send me home... OK, so I went. Checked in at the university hospital in Heraklion. The doctor checked me and made an EKG. Then he said that they would have to keep me to make some more tests...

I was taken to the Cardiologic Dept. and got a bed in a three-bed-room. And during the following days I had all sorts of tests made and still the doctors were not happy. The threathening shadow of "operation" was up there, the cost would be around 8,000 euro, and with no insurance there was no way for me to accept that. Thursday they made a stress-test and injected some radioactive contrast fluid which was scanned to follow the ways of the blood through the heart. They had to make it twice and when I returned to the Card. Dept. my doctor asked me how many times they put me in the "tunnel"? Twice? That is not a good sign, there seems to be a problem then. And I should know, that after this test there were no other tests they could do, if I had a problem they could only solve it by operating. Anyway, he would let me know the following day when he had studied the papers...

OK, Friday noon my doctor came and told me with a big smile that he had good news for me. It seemed that the heart had suffered no damage and that there were no obstructions. 80 percent for sure. So I could go home. (here I would insert a row of smileys!!!)

The economical side of it: A day in the hospital costs 70 Euro. So I went to the administration office and paid 280 euro + some admin. fee, total 296 euro. A bill will follow for the special tests I have had. It is likely to be around 1000 euro. No insurance to cover it, so it is all "my pleasure".

By the way, the university hospital in Heraklion is fantastic! Well, naturally the walls are green, for some reason nobody ever thinks of a different colour for hospitals (except for MY local hospital in Copenhagen, which is in all the colours of the rainbow, and you can always find your way around it by following "your own" colour). But the people there - doctors, nurses, assistants, EVERYBODY - were extremely kind and friendly, most of them spoke perfect English. And the doctors were kind and competent and took the time to speak about what they were doing and why. I had heard that it would be impossible to sleep at night because they would never turn the light off and there would be relatives talking loudly all over the place all 24 hours of the day and the TVs were never turned off.... None of all this. All was nice and quiet from ten in the evening and you could sleep tight till around 8.15 before the nurses started to come with their dreadful needles and medications.

The food: I have never in my life tasted such disgusting "food"! OK, so apparently at the hospital in Heraklion they have never heard that good and tasteful food will make the patients recover sooner, i.e. liberate the bed earlier, which is good for the economy. Still, at least you would not die of hunger even if you have no relatives around you.

I am happy to be back home now. But it has also been a learning experience. I simply MUST find a way to get a health insurance, although it will cost me as much as I pay for renting my house.

And you, if you want to move to Crete to live and work, please keep it in mind. You might never see it coming, but suddenly you find yourself in a situation where you need health insurance.

Oh, Dinny I thought you'd been quiet on the forum recently (as have I, but that's only due to too much work). I'm so sorry, but so pleased that in the end the news was good. I hope you're eating more healthily now - lots of vegetables and salad! OK, I know you don't like them, but you don't want another scare.

I do hope you have a good trip home and we're looking forward to seeing you end September.

Pam & Bob

Glad to hear that your time in hospital wasn't too bad an experience, although it was an expensive hotel.

I had the same problem trying to get insurance a few years ago and eventually the company agreed to insure me but took 7 years off my life expectancy, shame my bosses haven't as it would have meant that I could have already retired!

We were sorry that we didn't meet as planned but this is something to look forward to next summer.
Take care

All our love

Dave & Hilary
Hi Dinny, sorry to hear that you've been under the weather & that all is okay. Thanks for making us welcome when we were over in June, we really had a good holiday, 3 weeks flew by.Visited some amazing places, but the most memorable was the drive from Paleochora too The Millia Traditional Settlement, it was stunning, we did'nt stay overnight though because of the mossies! there poison to Pete. I think he would have ended up in Heraklion hospital!
After leaving you we went to Frangokastello stayed for 4 nights then on to Paleochorafor 5 days, I think this is still our favourite place, then on to Kastelli & finally Aghia Pelagia. Then home. Hope you enjoyed your holiday back at home, look after yourself Pat & Pete
Go_dam Din. That was no pis á kat. (It's about the least how I can express myself)

What a lucky girl you've been. At the end that is, except for the bill, but hey you're still alive without nasty surgery etc. More important though, what did you learn from it.
I'm afraid you have to change your lifestyle, in a way, a bit, sort of..No?

Take care because we still have to meet in the flesh biggrin.gif


Here's a link to feel you a bit near home
Hi Dinny,

I am so sorry that I have taken a long time to read your blog - when I am in Crete I dash on and off the internet but Alan is "busy" this morning so I have had more time to catch up.

I am very pleased that your health problem is not as bad as you thought it must all have been but a very scary experience. The points you make about the health insurance are very sobering - whilst we are part time Cretans we are covered by travel insurnce but your comments certainly makes it clear that we must give enough thought to health insurence.

Stay well and we may see you at the end of September - we are still waiting to hear if we are to have a late visitor.

Best wishes Yvonne

October 2023

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