The system here is confusing, I'll tell you that. But when the lovely internist who serves as my GP here (see what I mean by confusing?) came out to the waiting room this week specifically to apologise for running, in her words, "grossly" late – a half an hour, actually – I realised things are very, very different. I have sat for more than an hour at my doctor's back in Ottawa without so much as a nod from the receptionist, as if keeping people that long for appointments was the most normal thing in the world.
Dr Fatima is one of my favourite things about Abu Dhabi, actually. She is remarkably candid – in speaking about a referral, she joked "I could send you to a female doctor, but she is a serious cow" – and really funny, joking "I am a peddler of drugs" as she wrote out a prescription for antibiotics. She always asks how I am doing, as well, purposely keeping me just a bit longer than I would like, because she is so very thorough. In my early days here, when I hated it sometimes and had turned up with a third throat infection, feeling absolutely awful, she asked how I was and my eyes welled up with tears in spite of myself. "It's hard for everyone," she said, and offered to write me a note for a day off work.
As for the system itself, who knows. I am apparently getting an MRI for a shoulder injury in the next few weeks; cool. When I needed one back home in Ontario a couple of years ago it took 8 months. Having said that, a medical test that was done by a specialist at one of the major hospitals here last Christmas Day? Dr Fatima has not received the results. She asked me to get them for her. "Email is fine," she said. Emailing medical test results? Really? I've heard tell of hospitals that won't accept people with car accident injuries (imagine that happening to you, driving around with a broken wrist looking for a doctor) and tests that insurance won't pay for. So who knows, really.
Dr Fatima though, she's tops.