My story part 6 – 6/10 “The wonderful healthcare system of Norway…”

08/09/2013

This post is also available in: Norwegian Bokmål

The wonderful healthcare system of Norway…

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As mentioned I was admitted to hospital 70 times over a very short period of time while in high school, so I had to re-do some subjects. I did that at Aglo High School. I was received very well there, and it gave me back the desire to study. There were no questions asked about my high absence, and instead they tried to work around me and make it as easy for me as they could. I was struggling a bit in the beginning because I was so keen and so goal oriented with my studying, and not everyone I studied with had the same passion, to put it that way…
In any case, I was decided that I would re-do all the subjects I was missing from Meråker and find a new path to follow! That was easier said than done. NAV – The Norwegian Social Security Department, stood in my way! You have to be fucking healthy to be sick in this so-called welfare country called Norway. And as if you’re not having a hard time as it is with your illness, you’re not going to feel any healthier or more motivated after a meeting in one of those offices. I’ve cried many times on my way up or down the stairs to visit NAV. I can understand very well that they don’t know everything about my disease and everything like that… But I have no understanding whatsoever for it being such a difficult and intricate system. If you’re unlucky enough to get the wrong person working on your case, you get little to no follow-up or information about what your rights are. Is it really meant to come down to the individual working on your case if you get help or not? THAT is a horrible feeling!!! This has been really physically hard on me. You’re sitting in a meeting thinking you’re going to get help and facilitation, but all you get is a cold shoulder and comments that would make a grown man cry.
“I want to make clear that this does NOT go for everyone I’ve met in these offices, just so I’ve said that.”
What’s wrong with you? You look so healthy? You’re always smiling! Shouldn’t think you’re sick, you’re always dressed so nicely and always with your hair and make-up done!


So the fact that you manage to get to the meeting is going to be held against you or what? Yes maybe you take a bit longer to get ready that day because you don’t want to look even sicker, and maybe you wear some nice clothes and fancy shoes. Is there anyone that likes to be told that they look so pale and sad? I don’t, that’s for sure. That’s not very encouraging, it’s rather depressing. I don’t know what’s worse… You’re sick, that’s nothing new. But that it is used against you that you manage to look nice is just terrible.

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NO-ONE sees you when you’re in the fetal position and writhing in pain just to manage to survive.
NO-ONE sees you when you spend half the day on the toilet, 20-30 toilet visits a day. Blood, slime and stool as thin as water. It’s burning pain and blistering, it’s so painful to wipe that you nearly rather choose to have a shower, but you don’t have the energy to stand upright.
NO-ONE sees you when you don’t dare to eat before leaving the house because you’re worried the trip to the nearest toilet will be too long.
NO-ONE sees you when the pains take over and you pass out from exhaustion.
NO-ONE sees you when your intestines are full of infections and you’re bleeding from small internal wounds
NO-ONE sees you when your friends are out partying and you’re at home sleeping after several rounds in the hospital, generally feeling constantly unwell and fighting a silent battle against the disease. It feels really unfair
NO-ONE sees you when your friends fail and family doesn’t understand
NO-ONE sees you when the emotions take over and the medications are taking their toll on your body
NO-ONE sees you

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You try to explain as best you can. Lessons learned I tell them EVERYTHING and show them all my hospital journeys and doctors certificates. Surely then they’ll understand? OH YOU COULD BELIEVE THAT… They send you here and there. It’s a fulltime job to try and navigate this social security system called NAV. You really have to know exactly what you can apply for and what your rights are, because there is no way you’ll find out from them! Isn’t it their god damn duty to inform people about this? It really shouldn’t be me, the seriously sick person, spending countless hours on the internet and calling around to find out what my rights are.
I sometimes wonder how much time and money I’ve spent trying to find out about this and that. It’s awful to think back to. There have been many times I’ve had the right to something and not know about it. And when I finally read/hear about it it’s too late to apply for. It’s expired! Ugh, I feel I get both really furious and really upset when I think back to those times. Is that really as far as we’ve gotten in 2013?????

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I was 16 years old when they “offered” me to start receiving disability benefits. Uhhhh NO I want to work. I haven’t had a job yet, I’m not done with my education either. So the agent that was allocated to me puts it really nicely… “might as well do it now so we get it over with. The processing time is long and you’re not going to recover from your disease either….” Very motivating I have to say. Is this the kind of youth Norway wants? My goodness, I left the meeting in such a fury. I fought my way into being able to work and study. Not what I wanted, but after I while I got to study arts and crafts and did eventually end up as an interior consultant. I had a strong wish to become a hair dresser, but they wouldn’t let me because “what happens if you’re there with a bride and have to run off to the toilet?” Nice reason for my rejection from the hairdressing school. Such a completely retarded argument. The healthcare system of Norway at its best, or what…?
One thing I did learn quickly in my years as a youth is that you have to pay attention and take responsibility yourself. I am a lady with an iron will and I wanted to work. I wanted so badly, but I had a difficult stomach fighting against me. I had a huge wish to just be normal and work like “normal” women my age. I think NAV should’ve recognised this, that they had someone who really wanted to contribute that should be encouraged and facilitated. I would never be “on the dole” like what’s so popular with kids these days. It’s horrible – your career is part of your identity. I wanted that too. To be in a work environment and feel what it was like to be “normal”. Why shouldn’t I get that chance? Why did I have to work so hard just to be a part of that?

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My life as a student took a sudden turn…

My life as a student took a sudden turn After many years as a student I finally became an interior consultant. We were living in Bø i Telemark in south-eastern Norway, we lived there because Daniel was going to school in Telemark. I finish my arts studies at Aglo and then applied to a school in Skien for further studies. But then there was suddenly something “not right” with my test results from the hospital… all my blood tests were suddenly fine! Something they hadn’t been for many years. Hmmm, I wasn’t pregnant, was I? I was on the pill! I had to take a urine test. Those 2 minutes were veeeeeeeery long! And I was pregnant. With a mixture of anxiety and excitement I had to tell Daniel, who had just started studying, that “by the way, you’re going to be a dad for Christmas!” Luckily we had been together for nearly 2.5 years by then, so this was something we could manage! I went downstairs to tell mum and dad that they were getting the world’s best Christmas present this year. Grandparents for the first time 🙂
There was a lot of hassle with hospitals etc. since I had been so sick and on such heavy medications when I became pregnant. But all test results were good and I’ve never felt better in all my life. I was working out and had no problems. It was great to be pregnant. I gained 14kgs and was working out until the last week before my due date. The doctors have admitted later that it was a “mistake” to not inform me that pills weren’t a safe contraceptive when you have overly active intestines. It was a good thing then, that we had been together for so long and knew each other so well 🙂

‘Snåsakall’n’ got it right… I did get pregnant!

I was really happy since I had a large wish to become a mum. I was terrified that my disease would come in the way of that. I had heard many that struggled getting pregnant with similar diseases. This was terrifying for me. I come from a large family and I’m used to having kids around me all the time. The thought of a childless life was a terrifying one for me. I was thinking a lot about that all the way from when I was first diagnosed as a 15 year old, and back then I didn’t even have a boyfriend.
One thing that was exhausting about being pregnant was to run in and out of NAV. I had to switch offices because I moved away from my area, and had to start over again from scratch. I had to tell my story from A to Z once again. I was so sick of it. I got a new agent, and it felt like everything kind of started back at zero. Don’t they read your file? Don’t they have any requirements to prepare before a meeting? Oh well, enough about that. It only makes me pissed off to write about incompetent people that don’t see you for who you are, but just as another case in the pile of paper.

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The time before Elias was born was spent trying to finish my education. I didn’t manage to finish because the doctors at the hospital in Levanger wanted so badly I was when Elias was born, because if something was to happen I was where they knew me the best! It was safe for me and everyone around me. So I went home in November 2002. My due date was the 7th of January 2003, but Elias didn’t want to wait until 2003, he was in a hurry to get out. I did feel it when we were having a family party the 30th of December 2002 that I was very exhausted. And not to forget with a very short temper!!! I couldn’t take anything and had no energy for anyone anymore. Me, that loves to dress up and make myself look pretty, didn’t even bother to try to look nice. I had no energy. I just put on something, yea I don’t even know what I was wearing… tragic. I would’ve gotten a score of 0 out of 10. On the morning of the 31st of December 2002 I wasn’t in as much pain, and young Mr Melkerson “gave it a go” and got lucky 🙂

4 hours later I was in labour. So YES, that “old wives’ tale” on how to start labour worked on me. It wasn’t what I had planned, I thought everyone giving birth for the first time went past their due date!

4 hours later my water broke… and then it had started! Mum, I’m bleeding – is that dangerous? Mum calm as always, “no, you’re in labour. You better ring the hospital and tell them it’s happened.” Things were happening very fast and my contractions became more and more frequent. I told Daniel there was NO WAY there would be an ambulance and drama like that. I’m not sick, just pregnant, so we’re driving! My mum was not happy. I wasn’t scared, I can handle pain, so Daniel did as I said and drove. But of course we had to get petrol. We stopped at Shell in Stjørdal to fill the tank. 100kr, 200kr, 300kr… I was breathing and breathing! Fuck, I thought, you don’t need to fill the tank completely you idiot. I opened the door and yelled at him… Hello I’m in labour and I don’t want an ambulance! There were people walking past that I knew saying hello to me. I said hello back as well as I could with the world’s best fake smile. Painful.com then…

Daddy for the first time – no stress here…

We got to the hospital, and me that doesn’t do lifts was thinking I would just walk straight up to the maternity ward. I was dragging myself up the stairs. It was painful but I don’t get into a lift if my feet can carry me. That’s just how it is! Up at the maternity ward they weren’t ready to receive me. “You have to go sign in at the reception”. HELLO I don’t do lifts… are you kidding me? Nope, we had to go down stairs again, say hello and get some information and then walk back up again!!! I was offered a bed down there… Forget it! I can walk. Daniel wanted me to take the bed, but no fucking way. Up the stairs again… I’m not stubborn at all!!! 4 hours later the cutest boy in the world was born, 3710g and 51cm 🙂 ELIAS – mommy’s little ray of sunshine.
So that doctor/hospital mistake became my biggest happiness the 31.12.2002 – after I, of course, slapped Daniel in the face after he was trying to breathe together with me! He had the mark of my hand on his cheek for a good while after. Poor thing, not easy to stand on the sideline unable to help. It didn’t help either that he told me at 20.00 “you can hold it in until past midnight, can’t you?” I couldn’t… he was born at 21.37. I didn’t believe the midwife when she congratulated me on a healthy boy. Whaaaaaaat a boy, no it’s a girl! I was so sure it was going to be a girl. Have a second look… But no, they were right, it was a boy. THE WORLDS MOST BEAUTIFUL BOY OF COURSE 🙂

Elias and I spent 3 weeks in Trøndelag before we went back home to Bø…

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We were enjoying ourselves immensely – went for walks, sat in cafés, ate cake and drank the best strawberry/kiwi tea I’ve ever had. Every day we’d go for a long walk and end the trip at the café 🙂 I did baby singing, baby cinema, baby swimming. Everything you could possibly participate in! But all the happiness ended suddenly when I became “terminally ill” the summer of 2003. The summer in Bø was warm and everything was actually great. Me and a close friend were going to her home town Sandefjord on a sailboat. Me on a sailboat… The landlubber and forest troll from Hegra was going on a boat. I get sea sick just watching movies like “The Perfect Storm” – oh well, we can try! I like a challenge 🙂 I was quite unwell and dizzy, but I didn’t want to mention it. I didn’t want to scare anyone. I felt it in the car on the way there that I was nauseous – I went to the bathroom too often. My thoughts went back – I recognise this. I was bleeding into the toilet and had big pains and cramps in my stomach. Has my stomach gone mental again? It felt like my kilos were just falling straight off me. I was 100% sure my stomach was seriously sick again and that I’d need another operation! But my focus was on what was most important in my life just then – Elias <3

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We arrived in Sandefjord and were going on a boat… Still on land, I felt that I couldn’t do it! I struggled on the way out to the boat and threw up just looking at it. So we stayed docked – there’d be no sailing with Miss Stomach troubles… The day after I couldn’t take it anymore. We had to go see the doctor, it wasn’t safe to wait any longer. I was pale as a ghost and could hardly lift Elias. Daniel was out fishing with the boys and I was going to do beach-life with the girls 🙂 I got doctors and hospital! But before I went to the hospital, I had to call ‘Snåsakall`n’. I called him, he picked up the phone and before I could say a word he said… “it’s nothing dangerous , but you have to go see the doctor. Then you can call me again after!” Then he hung up! Hmmm… Well I better get to the doctor then… After lots of tests and examinations I got an answer I’ll never forget. The doctor walks in and tells me.. “Yea, I can’t help you with this!” I was terrified and thought that I must be terminally ill. I was tearing up and asked the doctor – is it cancer?

No – you’re pregnant!

PREGNANT??? But I’m breastfeeding Elias and have a hormone spiral… How is it possible? How am I going to reach the one out fishing in the middle of nowhere? He has to come back and help me with Elias. My friend had called Daniel when they took me to the hospital and told him I was seriously ill and he had to come home! That wasn’t just that easy, he had to walk for hours and then drive for even more hours….

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But he finally came home and was completely exhausted. Almost in a coma he lays down behind me in bed. I’m WIDE awake wondering how to break the news to him. “Hey Daniel – Elias is going to be a big brother! Complete silence from behind me… I didn’t dare to turn around because I was so nauseous and scared of throwing up. I was awake all night hoping for an answer or a sound… But nothing. Until he wakes up the morning after and says to me…

Hey Ingrid – I had a nightmare last night… I dreamt Elias was going to be a big brother…. 🙂

Read part 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of My Story in previous posts on my blog 🙂
Remember to leave comments and questions – plus if there is something you want me to write more about! 🙂
See what happens in PART 7 of my blog yet to come…