Another detour. Emergency surgery! What a way to experience another culture. I can’t recommend this method enough. Really, I … can’t … recommend … it.
We had a beautiful trip to Scotland over Easter. Like our trip two years ago, we found sunshine and magic everywhere we looked. (Want to see? Start here and move forward.) I can’t wait to share those moments with you.
But I was sidetracked on our return. Waking up one morning in pain which quickly turned me useless and nearly senseless, we rushed to A&E (the UK version of the ER). The difference in culture is obvious from the first: no one cared about my insurance. Name, date of birth, address, and the consultant will see you now. Health care is a HUMAN RIGHT in the UK and I LOVE THAT.
I had the misfortune to be ill on a three day weekend — a Bank Holiday Monday, the day after Easter. This was very silly of me, as anyone on staff with any sense or seniority had the day off. But the bare-bones holiday shift did their best for me.
And you should have seen their faces when I asked how soon after emergency hernia surgery I could get back to CrossFit. I may have managed to recruit both surgical consultants to my warmly-loved box.
An overnight on the surgical ward in a large shared room was another example of the differences in UK and US health care culture. I had the brief thought that being in a large shared space would feel industrial. Like I was a chicken in a large coop. (I was on significant pain medication, I was not thinking clearly. I definitely pictured us all on roosts, clucking away.) Instead I found the presence of others in recovery comforting. The nurses were kind and seemed to care about the individual dignity of all us chickens. The quiet susurration of daily life in my ears kept me from isolation and depression. And honestly, there was always the reminder that while I might feel wretched or sad, I was surrounded by women who had already experienced worse and were still making do and mending themselves.
And did I mention the tea? Nothing cures like a warm cuppa. Apparently. I was offered tea at regular points throughout my stay, and the tea lady was so upset when I declined. Who doesn’t need a nice cup of tea, I could see her thinking. I couldn’t stop thinking of that M*A*S*H episode with the recuperating British soldiers who want their tea even when it’s making them more ill:
Hawkeye: Jolly good, Major, but not all your traditions work out quite so well.
Maj. Ross: For instance?
Hawkeye: For instance, giving your lads tea when they’ve been hit in the belly. That leads to another tradition. Peritonitis.
Maj. Ross: You’re sure about that?
Maj. Ross: Well, that does a make a bit of sense. I’ll take it up to higher authorities. But I don’t know…if it was anything but tea.
The tea lady and I finally settled on my having a nice warm cup of beef broth. She clearly felt that the balance of the universe had been restored when she could bring me a warm cup of liquid. I said a silent thanks to Hawkeye.
So home I came, about 36 hours after first tottering into A&E, wheeled out on a chair straight out of 1950, by a friendly nurse who had been inconsequentially and cheerfully gossiping away with me about kids and schools during my whole stay — the medicine of sociability must never be discounted.
It would be nice to think that I’ll catch up on all sorts of blog posts while I’m recovering. I’ll keep thinking that, as I dose off in front of the fire while the rain pours down and I drink my not-tea. Catch up with y’all later.