I am thankful every day that I chose England over Germany, but events this week illustrate the reasons in a specific way.
Private health insurance companies, with few exceptions, are able to refuse cover of pre-existing conditions. If, like me, you have a dominant genetic disorder, a secondary cancer diagnosis, and a free-floating auto-immune disorder variously acknowledged or disputed by specialists, it is rather hard to define anything as a "new" symptom.
My skin, jaw, eyes, and endocrine system are all known villains. My reproductive organs are potential turncoats. The medicine I take to stay alive is slowly eroding my bones. The fact that I cannot be exposed to sunlight causes vitamin deficiencies. General metabolic mayhem induces anaemia, insomnia, etc. Treatment has caused a raft of allergies, precluding everything from antibiotics to opiates.
In the states, it was necessary to obfuscate facts to remain covered by insurance, but somehow figure out how to tell enough of the truth to receive adequate care. In Germany, according to both my friends and the brokers I talked to, the same would be true, except I would be hampered by the language barrier.
In my own colloquial universe I know how to wink and nudge a conversation in the correct direction. I forfeited that right by moving to England, and crossing yet another border would have been a colossal mistake.
This month I've managed to thrash my body comprehensively as I shifted boxes around. But if I presented myself to a medical practitioner complaining only of current symptoms, they would not be able to prescribe proper treatment, because they would not understand the complexity of the situation. Yes, I have pulled muscles, a seemingly ordinary injury - but that fact cannot be understood in isolation from the history that haunts my frame.
My GP, for instance, is baffled - and never talks to me for more than thirty seconds before pulling out a pen and scribbling referrals.
Yesterday I consulted an acupuncturist, who displayed shock at the constellation of trouble on display. She asked You have been living with chronic severe pain for 20 years??
It was liberating beyond belief to tell the truth, because I live in a country where there is no penalty for doing so. I will receive correct (if rationed) care here, no matter what I say.
I replied No, uh, 32. . . ish.