Ha, this might sound like a surprising topic after such a long silence, but it’s actually really been stuck in my head now for a while: the healthcare system of the Netherlands (or Belgium) compared to Italy. Of course I will also give a little baby update 😉
Ok let’s start with the baby update. Giovanni is now about 19 weeks (almost 5 months) and I keep repeating myself, but: what an amazing baby we have! He’s now sleeping through the night from 11 PM till 7 AM (usually) and also his daytime naps are going quite well. No 4 month sleep regression for us! The opposite actually, he learned to fall asleep on his own also during the day. Unless he loses his pacifier, then we need to go give it back.
It’s really amazing to see first-hand all the leaps and learnings they go through. Like a skill they don’t master yet today, they master 2 days from now. If you blink, you risk missing it. One funny thing is that he realises when people are “strangers” to him and if you hand him over now, he will start crying. Ok one last picture:
Healthcare in the Netherlands vs Italy
Ok so back to the original topic. Healthcare in general is very different in every country, I feel. I noticed it first hand with my pregnancy and how this was handled here in the Netherlands. 3-4 echo’s in 9 months and that is it. At 8 weeks, 12, 20 and maybe one last one later on. But what really surprised me, was a blood test my husband took when he was in Italy in March this year. He is fine, don’t worry.
1. Proactive blood testing
And that is my first point. In Italy, it is totally common for people to have their blood drawn once a year and check it for high sugar, cholesterol, white cell count etc. You don’t need to go to your general doctor first – you just go to a lab, fill out a form for the things you want tested and done! In a few days you have the results. So people don’t wait until they feel bad before they get their blood tested – they are proactive in it.
Why can’t we have that here? I think prevention is so much better than waiting (too long) to see a doctor because you feel bad. Like this, things can be caught early on (or even prevented). My father-in-law was pissed at me when I was in Italy 3-4 years ago and he asked me when the last time was I had my blood checked (I had no idea). I fully understand now he was just worried about me.
2. Benchmarks of results
Now circling back to the results of my husband, the blood test showed that he had high sugar and high cholesterol. We were quite shocked because we didn’t feel our lifestyle was THAT bad. So we decided to revise our eating/drinking and fitness habits again and I would also have my blood checked in the Netherlands to see if my values would also be out of control.
I made a doctor’s appointment and explained why I wanted this and what I wanted to test. After that, I could make an appointment at a lab to have my blood drawn. At the same time, Vittorio contacted his doctor in the Netherlands and sent over his blood results and asked for a follow-up check in 3 months. His doctor called him back, surprised. “Why would you need a follow-up? Your results are just fine?” Vittorio couldn’t believe his ears: “no, it’s my sugar level and high cholesterol”. “Don’t worry, your sugar is slightly above the threshold but nothing to be worried about. And your cholesterol is perfectly fine, as long as you stay below 250”.
Now his cholesterol (so bad/good combined) was at 225mg/dl and the “limit” in Italy is 200. For me, my result was 5,34mmol/litre so about 94mg/dl. A pretty big difference I would say! So why is it what is considered high in Italy is “not worrying” here at all? Is Italy too strict or is the Netherlands too negligent? I don’t know the answer to this, but I feel our health is not something to mess with.
So take care of yourself, have your blood checked regularly and live fully, but with a healthy moderation of things 🙂
Until next time,