Although most people normally keep quiet about small, embarrassing medical conditions that they've had treated, I feel that it is in the best interest of any American of a minority background to know exactly the type of treatment that you can expect in Europe should you happen to need care here.
Let's start with 2007, back when I was a student at Yale University and decided to visit my mother in Granada, Spain. Granada was a former possession of Morocco, and today the people have created a shared identity basically around their fear and hatred of Moroccans, never shying from publicly expressing these sentiments upon learning that I was not Moroccan. I dated medical professionals in Granada and can confirm that these feelings are widespread
In 2007 I decided to go for a hike, stumbling across some bush that made my skin break into an itch. I decided to go to the emergency room in Granada. I didn't really receive health care, I was subjected instead to the doctor's opinions on immigrants using the health care system. The doctor, a woman of South American descent who clearly was making too much effort to integrate, was even so faceless that she asked me with a smile after inquiring where I was from: "Oh, you don't have health care in the US, right?"
The "doctor" then proceeded to tell me that the itching was "because of poor hygiene." Even today, almost a decade later, my blood boils just thinking about it: this woman had no interest in providing me with medical care, she was instead more interested in presuming that my Moroccan face meant that I was too poor to afford health care in the US and had gone to the emergency room in Spain because I didn't have health insurance and thus no general practitioner.
It was very clear that the singular objective of the "doctor" was preserving what she saw as the resources of a system that I had not contributed to, despite the fact that my mom was paying sky-high insurance even while I was out of the country most of the year.
This took place before Spain plunged into economic calamity, and since then things have only gotten worse.
In 2011 I developed what I thought was a bad callous on my foot, making an appointment with my general practitioner to avoid the shameful loss of dignity which I faced during my first ever trip to the ER.
The GP just told me to keep sanding at the callous, that the pain would eventually go away, but a few months after seeing my GP, my girlfriend quickly pointed out that it was a plantar wart.
|European doctor doesn't care. Downtrend|
So, when you go in for what you think is a callous, it turns out that it is something in fact caused by walking barefoot in a Korean spa where there was actual poor hygiene on the floor.
After a decade of living in Europe on and off, I'm now certain that should I need to go to the doctor again, that I will be either insulted or told that it's nothing. Although I've only had two experiences with doctors here in Europe, I've heard enough horror stories to make me afraid of getting sick, to the point that I've basically been a full-blown hermit for years.
Simply put, if I had known the kind of treatment that I was to receive and the suspicion to which I would be subjected here in Europe by its medical professionals, I would have never moved here.
If you're North African-looking and used to doctors being compassionate and professional and diligent, Europe may not be a good place to relocate to. Worse, any doctor in the local system can see why you went to the emergency room, so if you're dating a doctor like I was, she'll be able to access your data and learn that you had something on your skin itching half a decade before meeting her.