“Swiss socialism”

First, some context:

This part is for people who have always lived (a) in a city (b) somewhere in the English-speaking world. You, with your education and urban experiences, may find yourself sorely unprepared for what happens to you when you need serious surgery in a place like Switzerland, which has plenty of money, not many people … and a whole different value system, which has been laid down over the centuries by its own particular history.

If you need heart surgery in the public health system in Switzerland, you are going to find yourself in what one enlightened doctor referred to the other day as “Swiss socialism”, which is both very good, and really horrible at the same time. Having thought about his comment, I can paraphrase Swiss socialism as: “Everyone gets treated the same way – like crap – but at least it’s everyone”. (Of course even this is not true – if you have (a) enough money and (b) some kind of experience of living outside Switzerland, you will be able to pay for something more humane, and you will know it exists, because you’ve seen it yourself, elsewhere.

My context:

Personally, I would much rather be in a hospital with walls that have not been repainted recently and equipment that is not the latest thing, as long as the doctors and nurses treat you like a human being, know that you are going to be feeling very fragile after the operation and that a period of depression is practically a given. To be frank, you can find not-very-up-to-date equipment in the CHUV too, like toilets that are hard to flush, ancient wheelchair-potties and so on, in addition to staff members that give you a bollocking any time you don’t fit their idealized image of “the typical patient”.

So if your family was very poor when you were growing up, and as a result you were treated like dirt by landlords, employers and anyone else in authority, then the treatment you get at the CHUV will strike you as totally normal. Your illness is being treated, and you understand instinctively that you, the person around the illness, are a nothing, of no value to anyone. It’s what you’ve experienced all your life; it must be true.

But you are being patched up, physically, and as a person with no other choices, this is very good.

If, on the other hand … (fill in the blanks for yourself).

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