Sunday, October 12, 2008

To Travel... or Not to Travel to Turkey for Surgery

Yes, I am back in Turkey... again. And yet again, it is for "medical tourism". This time, not for dental work, but for surgery. Some people are angry at me for not wanting or being willing to have surgery in Erbil, but I find this ridiculous as it seems that those Hawleris that can afford it also opt for Iran (not an option for me with as I would have visa issues). It seems also that my medical "insurance" only covers health care outside if it cannot be performed in the region of Kurdistan.

My issue is not really the skill of the doctor, although unless you know someone who knows someone, finding a good doctor can also be an issue. My issue is the sterility of of the operating theater. I went for a scan at the clinic of a very reputable (and very skilled) doctor in Erbil. However, when receiving the scan, I was asked to lie down on the pleather bench that the woman before me had been on (without it being cleaned in between or paper put down on it). The ultrasound wand? The same... The other woman's gel was wiped off with a paper towel and new gel applied. Meanwhile, as I lay with my midsection exposed, women on the other side of the screen were peering around to see what was going on. Having lived overseas for so long, my need for privacy has become somewhat dulled, but I don't think I could stand this sort of invasion in the fragile state I would be in post-surgery.

I left for Istanbul on Wednesday night. My flight was packed and I started to worry what the flight back would be like - jostled and shoved as people push to get in and out of customs, push to get on and off the bus to the plane, and push on and off the plane. It really irks me that on a flight from Erbil to Istanbul, that the only languages spoken on the plane are ENGLISH and TURKISH. OK, so Sorani is not the national language of Iraq? Then at least provide Arabic. Then at least some people would know what was going on and how to form lines. I started to wonder if traveling for surgery was the smartest thing after all. At least if I had the surgery in Erbil, there would be people to visit me in the hospital and I wouldn't have to travel far to go home. Then at the moment I had that thought, the guy beside me took the napkin off his meal tray, rolled it up and proceeded to clean his ears, after which he dropped the napkin in the seat pocket in front of him. OK, I think I may have made the right choice not to have my insides opened up in Hawler.

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