A few weeks ago, my wife and I went through an ordeal that gave us a good run through of how to get treatment for something "big" if you live in Norway (at least, in a relatively habituated place, near oslo).
One evening, my wife complained of strong stomach pains. After a day and a half of that not stopping, we decided that we needed to get things checked out by a doctor. I called my work and asked some colleages what does one do in this situation.
My boss told me "You just go to a "Legevakt", the emergency room. There was one 10 minutes drive from us.
We had previously heard horror stories of long you need to wait to get treatment in Norway. Frieds said
"If you're not splattering blood on the doctor's face, you're waiting for a day or a week".
So we went to the Legevakt at Baerum.
We were greeted by a lovely building with welcoming nurses. As is the case almost everywhere in Norway, we took a number out fo a machine and waited our turn. After about 10 minutes, we went into the nurses's offices and they took my wife's pressure and other vitals. Wrote down what they needed too, and explained that there is a priority queue based on age (kids get in faster) and severeness of the case. they asked us if my wife would like to wait on a bed or just sitting outside on the sofas until a doctor will take us. We preferred sitting, and I asked how long to they think it will take for a doctor to see us.
"It could be quite a while"
They said. After getting more specific( "will we be able to get out of here by 15:00 today?) we got some smiles that said "probably not". It was 12:30AM.
So we waited. I might have already mentioned the "three Ts of norway" - Things Take Time, and time it took indeed.
About three hours later, a nice young doctor invited us to come in. He was really nice. And also a bit unsure of himself. At some point he even said "now I'm confused". He wasn't sure what to do so he said he will consult with another doctor. We should wait, but he thinks it might be an appendix, or some other things (will not bore you with specifics). so now we wait in bed, SIX more hours. My wife is not allowed to take any pain medication because she needs to be able to explain to the doctor what hurts when and where. So she lies there in bed , in pain.
Every couple of hours we ask the nurses what is going on. The explain that there is a single surgeon available for the entire building. (hundreds of patients). "WTF?" we think.
another doctor finally comes in, checks here, and still says we need to wait for the surgeon. The surgeon comes in at 10 AM the next morning. My wife spends her (first) night at the hospital. I, meanwhile, get the things in and out of school. explain to them that mo is a bit sick etc..
All this while, the nurses at VERY nice and helpful. If this hospital was a restaurant, it would get 5 stars for the waitresses. They are awesome at checking if you need anything, and bringing you that something. Everything except the bloody surgeon.
The surgon comes in , checks her, and orders a cat scan. That takes two and a half hours. And now we are really scared. but he thinks it is an appendix and she might need surgery. As a foreigner in a land where people usually talk in a language you do not speak, that is fucking scary.
Plus, it seems norwegians have a weird way of saying bad news. They say bad news with a smile. As they kept taking her vitals, one time they came in and the nurse said with a big smile "your count of [something technical] is almost double." We started feeling happy, and then I remembered that that thing is the thing that says if there is an infection or not (as they explained before). "So it's actually pretty bad, right?" I asked.
"Yes, it does not look so good" the nurse replied with a great big smile.
This creepiness kept happening over and over. You really have to leep on your toes to understand what they are trying to tell you, without trying to interpret any visual behavioural clues.
Quickly after the Cat scan it was decided to odo the durgery. BAM. Another very scary moement for us. It was to be done an hour from now, at 17:00 PM that day.
Well at least that was relatively fast. about two hours later she was out and in the recovery room, and the next day, around noon, 48 hours after we went in, we went out, having spent a whole unnecessary night in the hospital.
So that was legevakt. Things take time. Some of our friends at the oslo international school said that they have a subscription to special clincs that have much shorter wait time for procedurs and treatements. One of them is called VOLVAT.
It costs about 2000 Kroner for the family a year, but you get to see the doctor much faster. You also get into treatments usually faster, but you PAY for each treatment and check you get, since it is all done privately. So you can go to a checkup and nd up with a bill of 5000 NOK. Hopefully your job will cover that for you. (mine does for me, but not my family).
Here is a list of all the legevakt in norway.
You can call 113 if you need an ambulance.