Money Talks, as the old saying goes. Thanks to advances in technology and inter-species communication, we understand what it’s saying. It’s a simple message: “bye….”!
How does money leave me? Let me count the ways:
- Electricity bill is due soon, covering the two coldest months of the year. Can’t wait for that one. At least €100 each.
- Rent. Our place may be small, but it’s in D4 (Dublin 4, the posh part of the city). Convenient for my job and my flatmate’s – – but not exactly cheap.€550 p.m each. She works 5 minutes away from home, I’m 30 minutes away, but I like to walk anyway.
- TV License is due for renewal. Here in Ireland the Government broadcaster, RTÉ, charges a license fee and carries commercials. Go figure. €76 each.
- New laptop hard drive. At least it’s much bigger and faster than the old one. €150.
- Camera is fully paid for: I have a credit card, but the bill got paid, in full, before it arrived: €1500.
- And finally: medical bills, an uncommon expense for me, but there’s a story attached. €140 so far.
Last summer I visited friends in Dubai; between the flights there and back, the unfamiliar bed, and trying out their vicious massage chair, I did something odd to my neck. It hurt for a bit, I was careful and it got better, and I thought no more of it. In the last couple of months, however, I’ve been getting what feels like nerve interference down my back. It’s not painful, but it is worrying. It seemed random, and it took me a while to link it to my neck, and it’s now clear the problem is when I bend my head forward.
Since I’ve moved around so much in Dublin, and only had to visit a doctor once before in my five years here, I had to go looking for a doctor, this time closer to the office. He’s baffled, and sent me for X-rays last Friday, which I should be hearing results from this week. My worst-case guess is cervical foraminal stenosis: if I’m that good I am at self-diagnosis, I’m in the wrong job, and I hope I’m wrong about this.
I wonder what will be involved in resolving this? The worst case would be surgery, but that’s unlikely, or we could be looking at a keyhole job. A more likely possibility is physiotherapy or just massage, which would be nice if covered by my health insurance. I can’t see pills or a neck brace helping, unless it’s a brace that radically realigns my spinal cord. Fitness is also a factor – as if I needed another excuse to go to the gym.
The big problem with medical services here in Ireland is that everyone wants money up front, even for X-rays. They don’t care whether you have insurance or not, as long as you pay them, all major credit cards accepted. Maybe you can claim it back later, but it’s not their problem. I’ll have to eat the cost of the X-rays because of the “excess” on my health insurance anyway, and GP fees are not covered.
If the treatment costs money, well, this is why I’ve been buying medical insurance for five years and not claiming on it at all. They will only pay up if the treatment is ordered by a doctor, so that’s one more reason to go and see one. The other is: while I know enough about medicine to take care of myself, when it comes to the neck or the spine I’m not going to take any silly risks. I don’t want to get it in the neck, if you follow me.