I’m sure my 2nd blog, with its stories of medical madness have given you, dear reader, a sense of my luck with my own health. It appears my many medical misfortunes are a trend of life that determined to follow me across countries.
On Monday the 2nd of November I found myself in need of a trip to the hospital because of a searing pain in my right lung, which made it pretty difficult to breath. The pain had started 24 hours before this point, but much like the UTI I had before coming to England, I had chosen to ignore the pain and the accompanying cough until it got bad.
In a matter of hours I had gone from on and off discomfort to gasping and sweating with pain. So here is a chance, dear reader, to learn about the British Health Care system.
I know that house calls are an available service here and I was tempted to set one up, if purely for the kind of romantic experience that would provide (and I mean romantic in the traditional sense here, not the current use which would imply romance). However, the nurse I spoke to strongly recommended I go to a hospital. Luckily I have made a dear friend here who has a car. Together we googled the address of the nearest emerge and off we went.
Once in the emergency room I got to experience meeting a triage of what English people call ‘Chavs’. A Chav being a young lower-class person typified by brash and loutish behavior who wears (real, or imitation) designer clothes. The girls were lovely, and certainly dressed to impress; one sported a red onsie and superman socks. The other wore cashmere pajamas.
After putting bodily fluids in flasks, cracking bad jokes and waiting for a few hours I was at last seen by a doctor. There is something about the massively imposing figure, charming accent and twinkling eyes of a Swedish doctor that just suggests nothing could possibly go wrong.
After poking and prodding, and running a few tests of his own he discovered that I had trapped a nerve between two of my ribs. This was causing the extreme pain, but wasn’t at all serious long term. His actual advice was to take some anti-inflammatories and a hot bath.
So disaster averted!
On November 20th, several days before, I ventured to the Darwin House, home of the famous Charles Darwin! The friend I was going with remained skeptically nervous our whole journey because after he accidentally demagnetized his train ticket (making it useless and forcing him to explain this strange occurrence to the gate guards at every station we needed to transfer at) he and I then had to take 2 long train rides, 1 bus journey and then a long walk up hill on a very narrow, very poorly monitored road down which several retired and well off old people sped in really nice cars. He remained skeptical because he did not I think, actually think we, would make it to the Darwin House.
His suspicions were somewhat justified though, as when we got there, the house was closed for cleaning. The house is only open to the public on the weekend.
But that didn’t matter, because between our charm and good old British hospitality we managed to sweet talk our way into a tour. The tour was reduced, as we weren’t allowed to be in the rooms that were being cleaned, nor were we allowed to go in the rooms that were locked to the cleaning staff. The staff there felt so bad about this reduction that they didn’t charge us entree!
As a Bio student the Darwin House was super cool, but even if you aren’t a total nerd like me it is still well worth the trip. Just seeing the preservations, the details of his family life and their profound similarity to the family standards of today, and the ways in which he was mocked while making advances in Biology, I certainly can’t imagine the world without it. Making the house a note worthy point to stop at.
The weekend of the 23rd November. In an attempt to avoid copious amounts of school work I took a journey to the beautiful city of Bath (a short train ride from Chippenham, which is a long train ride from Egham, Surrey, which is a 40 minute train ride from London) where I encountered a wonderful man taming pigeons for the joy of the public. A strange but 100% accurate sentence.
Bath is an amazing city; filled with cute shops, an amazing Christmas market (though it was closed when I arrived there) and beautiful buildings surrounding loads of bustling people, stopping to shop, eat or watch the street performers. I saw some really cool stuff in the shops and was able to get awesome Christmas presents for my house mates and family.
I’m sorry to report that I haven’t really done much these last few weeks as exams draw closer; though it is important to balance the academics of exchange with the fun. I highly recommend joining some clubs at your school abroad if you can; you will meet cool people and learn cool things. I personally have a flare for the dramatic and so I joined an improv comedy club which has put on several amazing shows and provided a really supportive group to blow off some steam with.
The shows and rehearsals are a great way to break up the monotony of schoolwork and they really have enhanced my experience as a student; laughing until your sides hurt is always an excellent use of a Sunday.
3rd December 2013. I have been to London many times since my arrival here but I had yet to see the changing of the guard, a rather spectacular and quintessentially British event.
The changing of the guard happens every other day and, unfortunately, I had gotten the days mixed up. So I didn’t get to see the guards change, which was somewhat disappointing, but because I have a life history of plans not coming together I have learned to roll with these kinds of punches pretty well. The building is still beautiful and I did get to see the guards in their giant fuzzy caps and a few police officers were walking around with semi automatics to blast to bits any one who got too near the Queen.
So all in all; fun.
I visited the Buckingham Palace shop where I could afford nothing; royals only it seems, and then made my way to the park outside Buckingham. The park has an amazing collection of birds (and many friendly squires with no concept of personal space) including swans, which all belong, by law, to the Queen, making them illegal to eat in the UK.
After the palace I went to Covent Garden which much like Bath is awash with amazing little shops; some large darpartment stores, others holes in the wall, and street performers. In fact, while there I was walking down some stairs only to be swept up into the arms of an opera singer who then danced with me as he continued to sing. I know most people would be mortified by being so spontaneously dragged into a show, but this is exactly the kind of silly-center-of-attention-but-not-really- action that I thrive on as a Drama student.
On my way back to the train station I happened to pass a film crew at work. Now I can’t say where it was, or what film it was or who is in it. But I can say that I got to meet, talk to, hug, and watch work on the monitor behind an equally note worthy director, a very famous person. And his name may or may not rhyme with Dohhny Jepp.
I kissed his cheek. Had a real conversation with him and hugged him. Multiple times.
I’m not saying anything more about who it was. But I will say this; he is as kind and lovely in person as I always expected. And I can die happy.