On Tuesday this week I woke at 4.00am with chest pains. Not acute - more like pressure or tightness in my chest. It recurred intermittently across the day, and persisted until Wednesday morning. By lunchtime Wednesday, with all the warnings about consulting your doctor if you experience chest pains ringing in my ears, I visited my GP and described my symptoms. Somewhat to my astonishment, she quickly dispatched me to the emergency service of my local hospital with a letter requesting tests of my heart's functioning.
Over the next three and a half hours I was given an ECG, had my blood taken and tested, and described my symptoms in detail to two different, sympathetic, non-condescending doctors. At the end of this time I was discharged, having learned that I have a perfectly healthy heart - indeed, a very healthily relatively slow-beating heart.
Of course I was relieved that there was nothing wrong with my heart. My GP and I are now monitoring for more mundane and less anxiety producing digestive causes of the pain. But I've reflected many times over the last couple of days on just how fortunate I am to live in a society that, despite the inadequacies of healthcare funding, can respond so quickly and thoroughly to the possibility of serious illness, and do so without charging me a cent (other than the taxes I've paid over many years).
Of course, I realise that I'm more fortunate than many because I live in the inner city where my 'local' hospital provides a full range of world-class services, all day, every day. I know many people in outer suburbs or country areas do not have access to such services. I'm also fortunate I have a GP who has treated me for many years, listens to me, and takes symptoms very seriously.
It's very easy to count my blessings just now.