The NHS Saved My Life
I’m so glad we have a national health service in the UK. The fact is they saved my life. From my early 20s I was struggling to sleep, my weight was piling on, I was in trouble.
Obstructive/Acute Sleep Apnoea
The sleepless nights got so bad I would fall asleep in the day uncontrollably. I spilt hot tea on myself and fell out of bed numerous times often hitting my head on the bedside cabinet. In 2009 I was diagnosed with acute sleep apnoea. The tests showed I was waking up 60 times an hour. My sleep was no sleep at all. I felt exhausted all the time and had to endure constant mockery from so called friends and colleagues for my falling asleep in public and snoring loudly. It was far more serious than that though. Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health risks like diabetes,rapid weight gain and potential stroke or heart attack. The NHS put me on CPAP treatment. I was given a machine with an oxygen mask that pushes air into my throat to keep the airway open and allow me a good nights sleep. In my most recent check up I found I was hardly waking up at all during the night, the treatment had been successful
in 2011 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, my blood sugar had shot up to dangerous double figures. The dangers of poorly managed diabetes are pretty terrifying, amputated limbs, teeth falling out, blindness, strokes, and heart attacks.
Truth is, until recently, I wasn’t managing my diabetes very well. I thought I was, I took my medicine, went for walks but didn’t really take much care of my diet. Thankfully, my regular blood tests at the GP flagged up a meeting with the nurse. It took a week or so of monitoring my blood sugar 4-5 times a day plus cutting out high sugar/high carb foods for me to realise the mistakes I was making and what I need to do going forward. All this was thanks to a visit to the nurse otherwise I would have carried on like before and who knows?
What would Life Be Like Without Our NHS?
I often imagine what it was like before 1945 in the UK when medical care was a luxury only the rich could afford. Or what it’s like now for over half the world below the poverty line with no access to medical care. I wonder what I would do if I lived in the United States and had to pay insurance fees for healthcare. Take this quote from the World health organization as something to reflect on:
Approximately 1.2 billion people in the world live in extreme poverty (less than one dollar per day). Poverty creates ill-health because it forces people to live in environments that make them sick, without decent shelter, clean water or adequate sanitation.
I have no doubt the NHS saved my life as it saves countless others daily. I am aware that there is a lot of debate about the cost of the NHS right now but that’s another discussion for another time. When viewing things through a social wellbeing lens rather than an economic one, it’s easy to see the real value of this great institution. If any doubt remains, try imagining life without it.
I admit that that illness in the first world reflects the more affluent lifestyle people enjoy. Unlike developing countries where poverty, starvation and poor sanitation are the major causes for illness and death, our problems are more about poor choices in what and how much we eat and consume in general. Issues like morbid obesity need to be tackled, I should know. I actively try and lose weight and I encourage anyone else in my position to do the same for the sake of your own health. I just don’t believe shrinking and privatising the NHS would put an end to our modern illnesses like obesity and drug addiction for example. I believe we are all human beings, prone to error. When we get sick, we should get help and support because that’s the humane thing to do. Going back to that day I walked in the surgery and got life changing advice on managing my diabetes, I ask myself, what if I didn’t have that surgery to go to?
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