Homesick is a funny word, one that perhaps I can't use in the current context. I was going to say that today made me homesick for the UK, but of course my home is with my wife now. So I will just have to be content with saying that today made me like my previous country a little more, and my new country a little less.

Perhaps I should explain:

I have an itchy, spotty rash on my hands and feet. It hasn't disappeared in almost a month, so yesterday I finally took the plunge and made an appointment to see a doctor. Since arriving here in the US, I have thankfully been healthy enough to avoid such a trip, so I have't had the experience of US style medical care. After a long hold time with bad muzak and some basic questions during which the secretary deciphered my accent, I was told that I could see the doctor this morning at 9:45am. (yeah, like Home Counties English is the worst accent in the world, try listening to a thick newcastle or glaswegian accent sometime)

We get up at some ungodly hour, about 9am, and drive the short distance to the hospital complex, taking several wrong turns along the way. Somehow my wife thought that because I was the one contacting the doctor, I should know where his office was ;-) Another accent/culture problem almost directs me to general surgery (I've always called a doctor's office a surgery, apparently that isn't the correct term to use here in merkinland) Once Katyana steps in and we get correct directions, we arrive at the surgery. (yes, I'm english and some things will stay how I want them to) I'm handed a poorly photocopied patient registration sheet where I fill out my real name. (Surname Clark, not Clink - apparently some guy from a crappy TV series)

I'm quickly greeted by a nurse/doctor who doesn't give her name but takes my weight (almost 200 pounds now, ick) and my blood pressure and pulse (thankfully normal). Then my wife and I are left in a small room to await the doctor. He's funny, middle aged and competent. After asking me the standard medical questions about my health, operations, and history he takes a look at my hands and feet. I feel assured that his diagnosis of my condition is correct and I will be cured soon. He takes a quick scraping of my hands and feet to ensure that I don't have a fungal infection. After he returns, I'm prescribed a steroid cream for my eczema. Our lack of health insurance prompts katyana to ask whether we can get the largest size container possible and if there are any free samples going. Thankfully our doctor is happy to help us with that and asks for a generic (i.e. cheap) medicine. So things seem to be going pretty well as we make our exit. We hand in the exit form to the receptionist and she asks whether we want to have the bill sent to us. We are a little indecisive so she tells us we really want the bill sent, we don't want to pay now. Seems that because I am a new patient, I get to pay through the nose for the privilege of having questions asked by a doctor. 175 dollars for a visit, without the prescription. As we stagger downstairs worrying profusely and feeling our stress levels rise we decide to at least see how much the prescription costs. Another 85 dollars for a tube of cream. Well, 40 dollars if we choose a smaller tube with lower strength.

Welcome to the American health care system...

In the UK, I would have phoned the doctor, made an appointment, attended, been written a prescription for exactly the same medicine and paid about 8 to 10 dollars for just the prescription. Hoo-fucking-ray for socialised health care. Sure, to get good treatment for serious conditions that require surgery, you still need insurance in the UK. But it costs a hell of a lot less to be ill in Europe. Even the medical insurance is less; 50 to 100 dollars as opposed to 250 dollars for the same level of care. And taxes are just the same in the UK (excepting petrol which is extremely high priced at about 4 times US prices)

I wonder just how many people in the US are enduring health problems because of this crappy system? How many mild, treatable conditions turn into serious life threatening ones because of 200 dollar doctor visits?

What's worse is that I am now feeling guilty for being sick because of the stress it is causing my wife, and I'm feeling guilty because I don't want to come across as an anti-american bigot. And of course I now have yet more pressure to work the instant I get my Employment Authorisation Document next week.

So onto my next angst: employment. (an angsty ranty daylog? never!) Despite whoring my details to various employment sites, I have yet to receive even job agency interest. No degree means a lot more in the US, I assume. Or just the total lack of education. Four years as project support in Sony Research and Development with a list of skills as long as a cliché doesn't seem enough anymore. My optimism has crashed down an icy ravine, dragging my happiness with it. So I can add depression to my list of worries. That makes depression, employment, money, health and competence tp work. See, I'm a slow worker, evidenced by this daylog taking hours to write. I honestly don't think that I will be able to cut it in the US job market.