Pros & Cons of Living with Chronic Illness in Your City.
I have decided to participate in “Invisible Cities Linkup” hosted by A Chronic Voice. It’s a great way to learn about the ins and outs of living with a chronic invisible illness in different cities and towns around the world. I will be answering a list of 12 questions about the quality of life in my city, as someone living with a chronic illness.
Q&A: What’s the Quality of Life Like in Your City with an Invisible Illness?
I live in Norwich, Norfolk, UK. Norwich is a beautiful city located in the East of England. It’s a relatively small city surrounded by countryside, within a short drive of the coast. Norwich is situated in a mainly rural area of England called East Anglia and it’s about 120 miles north east of London.
1.Best thing about your city for living with chronic illness?
Everything is in close proximity. Pollution levels are low. There are lots of open spaces and public parks. You can be in open countryside in minutes and the seaside is only a short drive away.
2. Worst thing about your city for living with chronic illness?
Probably the public transport around the city and transport links to other parts of the UK. Norwich is situated on a “bump” that juts out on the east coast of England. Road links are pretty bad and to visit anywhere else in the UK by train you first have to travel to London.
3. How accessible do you think your city is in general?
Norwich is known as the most complete medieval city in the UK, including cobbled streets, ancient buildings and many medieval lanes. Although it’s a beautiful city, many of it’s ancient structures are still in use today as shops, restaurants or public buildings. They were not designed for disabled access and they have many steps and levels. The older streets are also cobbled, which is not ideal. But if you stick to the newer parts of the city centre Norwich is relatively accessible. The main streets are pedestrianised, which helps.
4. How educated is the public on chronic illnesses there?
I don’t think they are any more or less educated than any other UK city. Norwich is a small enough city to still have a friendly town vibe, and locals are always open to learn about new things.
5. If you could pass one new law in your country, what would that be?
I would reverse the damaging cuts our current Conservative government has placed on our public services. I would invest in the NHS, especially the mental health sector. We are so lucky to have free healthcare but it’s not going to be around much longer if the Tories have their way. I would also implement a fairer assessment process for all health benefits.
6. Which is your favourite city or country (other than your own) and why?
Probably London. I love the hustle and bustle, and there’s so much to do. No matter how many times I visit, I never get bored and there are always new things to discover. It’s also a big contrast to where I live. Alternatively, anywhere by the coast. I love to be near the sea.
7. Where in the world would you visit, if disability, illness or level of fitness weren’t an issue?
I would love to visit the beautiful lakes in Northern Italy. I would also like to return to the US.
8. What sort of alternative treatments or therapies wouldn’t raise any eyebrows there? (Perhaps it’s ingrained in the culture, totally legal, etc).
I don’t think any particular alternative treatments would raise eyebrows. Norwich folk are pretty open and accepting of most things.
9. Which are the most and least affordable therapies there? How much do they cost in general?
It’s been many years since I’ve paid for private alternative treatment due to lack of money. I wouldn’t know what the current prices are.
10. How expensive is it to live with a chronic illness there? Any stats you’d like to share to give a clearer picture?
We are extremely lucky in the UK that we have free healthcare through the NHS. But care is not consistent and it’s really not equipped to treat patients with multiple illnesses.
Prescriptions are £8.60 although if, like me, you have multiple prescriptions each month, you can save money by buying a prescription prepayment card.
I was also provided funding to convert my bathroom to a wet room due to my disabilities, and my care costs are covered. So I guess I’m very lucky compared to many around the world. And I would probably be bankrupt if I lived in a country like the US where you have to pay for healthcare.
11. What are the hospitals like in terms of service, quality of care, emergency room protocols, etc?
It depends on the time of year and day of the week, for A&E (emergency care). Wait times can be very long. But considering all the cuts that have been made to the NHS the quality of care is very good. I have regular hospital visits and I’m always looked after well.
GP practices are the first port of call for non urgent treatment, and the level of care and consistency varies a lot between practices and even between GPs within those practices.
12. What should foreigners be aware of in regards to healthcare, if they want to visit or work in your city?
Our emergency phone number is 999. Accident & Emergency (A&E) is where you go for urgent care and it’s located at the main city hospital. Be prepared to have to a wait a few hours for treatment as A&E departments are always very busy.
We have non emergency out of hours healthcare services. You can access them by dialling 111 but we also have “walk-in” centres.
Non emergency services between 8am-6pm are normally carried out by GP practices.
If you would like to participate in the Invisible Cities Linkup, please click here and follow the instructions.
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