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Doctors, treatments and facilities in New Zealand? - Thinking of moving there...

Discussion in 'ME/CFS Doctors' started by Gecko, Jan 13, 2015.

  1. Gecko

    Gecko

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    Hi all,


    In my often failed endeavors to not let this all completely destroy my life I often try to push myself to do things that at least give me some vague feeling of control and excitement even if those experiences are a struggle and more than marred.


    It has always been my dream to move to Canada but unfortunately the process works like a raffle for a working visa and the application process is cut off at 31, is not yet open for this year and I turn 31 today so it was a no go.


    I decided nonetheless to get a last minute working visa to New Zealand. I applied 2 days ago and if approved I could have the opportunity to work there for 2 years. Unfortunately I struggle a lot with work and have long periods of unemployment followed by various lengths of the least stressful temporary work I can find (I am currently working 2 minutes from my house) when money becomes a desperate situation.


    Anyway, I may find myself in the possession of a 2 year visa in New Zealand where will have to (and want to) work and cope as best I can. I am still apprehensive and may not actually go but it is something I really want to try.


    My main concern is treatment…Whilst I can probably say I have gotten nowhere with the doctors and alternative therapists I have seen in the last 11 years of being ill, I feel that being in the UK at least gives some options.


    I have been for a consultation at the Breakspear Hospital and if I were somehow able to raise funds and go ahead with treatment there that would mean forgoing this potential experience.


    I have put my life on hold for this for too long and have a stubborn notion that somehow I will be able to get something out of life before it’s too late!


    I guess a big question and concern is what are the doctors, treatments and facilities like in N.Z.?

    I would like to go and also continue to research and attempt things to make myself better.


    Does anyone know how knowledgeable and advanced they are in their thinking towards our illnesses?


    Many thanks
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  2. Valentijn

    Valentijn WE ARE KINA

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    I haven't seen any indication that there's any real treatment for ME/CFS in New Zealand. And there might a push for CBT/GET there now ... one of the hospitals was opening a clinic focusing on that sort of crap.

    But you have to basically have a job already lined up to get the visa, so it doesn't seem likely to happen. You also have to be in good health to get the visa.
     
    minkeygirl likes this.
  3. Gecko

    Gecko

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    Thanks for the reply!

    It's called a temporary working holiday visa which apparently is different. After speaking to the embassy I don't think I'll have much trouble obtaining the temporary visa but it's all down to if I should go or not based on personal circumstances.

    That does worry me that it is seemingly behind on it all.....
     
  4. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    You could see Dr Rosemary Vallings who is just out of Auckland. She's been involved with CFS for a long time now.

    I saw a Youtube video rec ently where she describes her treatment approach



    You would need to pay a fee to see her and for private prescriptions. This puts treatment out of the reach of many NZ ME patients. Hopefully someone who actually see Dr Vallings can tell you the actual costs. Maybe she provides a prescription that can be used to buy drugs abroad more cheaply.

    Friends in NZ tell me that things are very bad with their medical treatment with access to doctors (like GPs) and hospital treatments becoming very expensive with long waiting lists.

    Another problem which was be bad for me is that some internet companies will not post supplements and generic drugs to NZ. Melatonin etc are banned and ME patients find it hard to get the drugs they want into the country.

    NZ ME patients I know often go to Australia for treatment.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015
    justy likes this.
  5. Valentijn

    Valentijn WE ARE KINA

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    That does make the work aspect technically doable, but they still have a pretty rigorous medical screening required. And I doubt they're going to want to give a permit to someone who might or might not be able to work, and might or might suddenly get sicker, and might or might not require a lot of health care while in the country.

    It also seems like a risky thing for you to be doing, when your health is already tenuous. While exploring New Zealand does sound like a fun thing to do some day, maybe it should wait until your health and financial situation are more stable ... and go visit for a couple weeks in the winter from time to time instead.

    Dreams are great, but reality has to rule in the short term at least.
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  6. minkeygirl

    minkeygirl But I Look So Good.

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    Lacey and Woolie like this.
  7. SickOfSickness

    SickOfSickness Senior Member

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    The flight and packing would cause most of us to crash. My friend crashed for weeks after packing and traveling. You're healthy enough it won't cause a crash? Also I don't do well in a new town or city, having to learn new roads, new stores. In another country they have different road signs and traffic rules, different slang, different brands, etc.
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  8. ukxmrv

    ukxmrv Senior Member

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    He doesn't seem to offer much in the way of actual medical treatment. On his website it seems to be mainly supplements, avoid food allergies and investigate heavy metals.
     
    Valentijn likes this.
  9. Gingergrrl

    Gingergrrl Senior Member

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    @Gecko

    I am tagging @rosie26 in case she has any feedback for you re: NZ. Best wishes whatever you decide but I can't imagine packing and moving to a new country while so ill!
     
    rosie26 likes this.
  10. rosie26

    rosie26 Senior Member

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    I don't think it would be a good idea to be moving to a new country with this illness myself. You could deteriorate severely while here. I very rarely go to the doctor, there doesn't seem to be much on offer that helps me. So, you probably are better off where you are with the facilities you have. I am not aware of 'facilities' here. But then I forget, I might need reminding :D!

    I wish you well.
     
    Sidereal, justy, Valentijn and 2 others like this.
  11. daisybell

    daisybell Senior Member

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    I see Dr Vallings, who is based in Auckland. I am able to get prescriptions for LDN and for melatonin, but that is all... Most of the doctors here in my experience have either no interest or think that CFS is psychological...i have been offered graded exercise, which I refused.
    So my feeling is that whilst I am not being pushed into inappropriate treatment, there is not much on offer. I asked for the LDN myself, after reading about it on here.
     
  12. OverTheHills

    OverTheHills

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    I moved from UK to NZ with ME so I am in a position to compare and contrast, based entirely on my personal experience.

    I think on average healthcare for PWME is better in NZ, but don't get too excited, I would describe the approach as benign neglect in NZ rather than active opposition in UK. And of course it varies between individual GPs/specialists, many of them have been trained in the UK and so exposed to the psychobabble party line.

    I believe Dr Vallings will prescribe LDN & immunovir for example. My local hospital fatigue specialist knows something about POTS but believes that paper which claims exercise will sort it (for everyone), has mentioned GET but will prescribe LDN for me now that I have found it helpful. He trusts his local immunologists word over Prof Klimas when it comes to the immune system though.

    My GP is happy to prescribe aciclovir beta blockers and B& D vitamins on an ongoing basis. (You have to pay for GP visits here). In the UK all I could get was aciclovir & after a huge battle syringes for B12 injections. Even doctors who were quite sympathetic wouldn't go against the NICE rules for something as cheap and harmless as B12 injections.

    The trend may be worsening/ about to worsen here (a GET/CBT type service starting up) but I am involved in local advocacy and we hope to limit any moves in that direction.

    Iwould not underestimate the amount of work required to move countries.I don't know how functional you are Gecko, I have a partner to help with physical stuff. I can certainly understand a desire to move on with life despite the disease, if one is well enough.

    Hope this helps
    OTH
     
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  13. Woolie

    Woolie Gone now, hope to see you all again soon somewhere

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    I second @daisybell. Having lived previously in Australia, the US and the UK before coming here to New Zealand, my impression has been that in NZ medicine, the UK is very influential. So if you pick a random doctor and tell them you have ME, they'll suggest GET or CBT.

    But on the other hand, there's no pressure to submit. And much less bureacracy. My local doc has been supporting a trial of Valtrex - been on it for 9 months now. I fund it myself - import it (its not on sale here in NZ) - and he gives me permission and monitors it.

    Many GPs here have heard of Rosamund Vallings, so that's a help. Daisybell tells me Dr Vallings is not seeing patients as often now, though, so it might not be possible to get on her list. Plus she's in Auckland, which is a plane ride for many.

    Hospitals are public (free), and referrals to specialists inside the regulations are covered by public funding (free). But your family doctor is pay-as-you-go (around $NZ50 a visit), unless you have private health cover, which most of us don't (it won't be part of your employment package). Prescriptions are subsidised ($5 each), but some expensive meds are only subsided for certain conditions, and of course ME is never one of them.

    If you like the idea of the healthy air down here, then think again. Lots of regions have a heavy rainfall, and mould is a constant problem where I live (Wellington). NZ also has one of the highest rates of allergies in the world, I believe. Something to do with the pollens.
     
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  14. Woolie

    Woolie Gone now, hope to see you all again soon somewhere

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    Can you tell me more, @OverTheHills? Where are you based?
     
  15. OverTheHills

    OverTheHills

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    I'm on the kapiti coast. I'll PM you.
    OTH
     
  16. Mogwai

    Mogwai

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    He was very handy for me.

    I got thorough blood and stool work from him - including a CSA/Parasitology from Doctor's Data.

    He Rx me B12 shots and magnesium shots. We also tried Natural desiccated thyroid.

    He treats high nagalase with GcMAF, and is willing to Rx immunovir.

    From my experience with specialists here, I think he, and Dr. Vallings, do all in their power to help. The latter actually practices just up the road from me and her knowledge is second to none in the country... However, they are very limited in what they can do because of our isolation.

    @Gecko - I'll be blunt - If you come here you'll be taking a step backwards in your treatment.

    @Mogwai - You'll never work for Tourism New Zealand.
     
    Lacey, Sidereal, ukxmrv and 3 others like this.
  17. green_monster

    green_monster

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    Hi Gecko

    Hope you are feeling as well as you can be today.

    I've had ME in both UK and NZ, and in my personal experience NZ is the place to be if you are going to be ill. Nobody wants this illness but if you are going to be lumbered with it then I think it's better to have it here. I really, really didn't benefit from the UK psychobabble anyway. At least here in NZ I can see a real doctor.

    So what about NZ? Rosamund Vallings is an excellent doctor. She's in Auckland. I doubt there are many doctors around who have more knowledge about ME than she does. If you wanted to see Ros I think it's around NZ$250 for the first appointment, might be a bit more now. Budget 150 quid and you'll be ok. Not cheap but it's worth every single cent. Further appointments after that first one are cheaper. I think you will need a referral from another doctor if you want to see her. You can't just walk in off the street. Perhaps your UK doctor could write the referral? You could always email Rosamund's surgery to check if this would be an acceptable referral. As of last year she was accepting new patients, I know that much. I don't know if she is accepting new patients right now. I presume she is, as I haven't heard anything different.

    For GP's in general, I've found it much easier here to find a GP or change to another one. If your GP is rubbish, just give them the sack and find a better one.

    If you do come to NZ, do your homework regarding what health care will cost, and do your homework to see what a travelers health insurance policy will cover. Look into the reciprocal health care agreement between UK and NZ. You'll need to check up on this, but I don't think you will be entitled to the full public health service if you are on a working holiday visa. The NZ/UK reciprocal agreement doesn't cover every single kind of treatment either. Just make sure you have appropriate health cover in some shape or form. NZ is not like the UK where you can go to hospital and get free treatment and nobody bothers to ask if you are an illegal immigrant or not. The public hospitals here check, and if you are not entitled to treatment they don't let you in unless you cough up your credit card.

    If it turns out you are not entitled to the full public health service this might have an effect on prescription costs as well. I really don't know the answer, but I would try to find out if I were you. Subsidised prescriptions might be $5 whereas the actual full cost might be $500 or whatever. Some drugs aren't cheap and you obviously don't want to be paying like $500 or something for a prescription. It's possible the NZ/UK reciprocal agreement will cover some prescriptions, but I doubt they will cover the more weird and wonderful ME drugs.

    As to the question of "should you move to NZ for a bit", I guess only you can make the decision. Can your body handle it? Are you going to crash and end up in bits? Can you hold down a job so that you can pay the rent and buy food? If you run out of money the Dole won't be very sympathetic. You won't be entitled to unemployment or disability benefits.

    Can you handle the long flight here? It's 24 hours on the plane. You could break your journey into 2 or 3 legs, have overnight stopovers in New York and Los Angeles, or somewhere like Dubai and Singapore, depending on which route you fly.

    Have you looked into what kinds of jobs are available? A lot of temporary jobs that working holidaymakers typically do might not be ideal for someone with ME. Things like working in a pub during the ski season. Noisy as hell, midnight, full of drunks being happy. In summer you can get farm work. Hot and physical, long days in the sunshine. Another thing to consider is where to live. For example, there are more jobs in Auckland, big city, but property rental is relatively expensive. Out in the sticks rent is cheap, but less jobs. To get an idea of rental costs, check out the Trade Me website. Trade Me is the NZ equivalent of EBay. Nobody really uses EBay here.

    I'm not trying to put you off or be negative. I'm just trying to be realistic and mention some potential downsides. NZ is a wonderful country. It's not perfect, nowhere is perfect, but it's pretty good here and I hope you are well enough to get here one day. Take it easy. Good luck.
     
    M Paine, Sidereal, Woolie and 2 others like this.

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