And then I went to A&E…

So where were we? Crewe station? Oh yes.

While waiting for the train, I finally had something to eat. I hadn’t been able to face the sandwich I’d bought just after falling. I’d asked David to pick me up and he and the boys were waiting for me at Preston. I rolled up my jeans, preparing for their shrieks of horror, only to find the bump had gone down. Almost entirely.

We headed for the hospital, but I dithered. I didn’t really think it was broken. But there was the clicking. And the comment about the blood clot. And we’re going on holiday this week. Did I really want to head off on holiday and then end up in a hospital over there? No, I did not. “It’s just a bruise,” I said. “I probably shouldn’t go.” “I don’t think you need to go to hospital,” Harry said, “There’s nothing there!” “Better safe than sorry,” David said. Yeah, okay.

So they dropped me at A&E at the minor injuries and illnesses bit.

I went to triage. (On the way, I mentioned going to triage and David mocked me: “It’s not M*A*S*H*!” Shows what he knows.) The nurse said, “Oh yes, you’ve got a huge haemotoma.” Now, even I know that’s basically a bruise. (Just looked it up and it’s not quite a bruise. And can present similar symptoms to a fracture. Sort of. Shut up.) And the nurse did seem a little smirky. I told her I wouldn’t have bothered coming if I hadn’t been going away. She said someone would see me in a while. I said, “Do you think I need to be seen?” She said, “Well, you’re here now.” Fair enough.

I read my book. I nosed at other people’s injuries. I stared for slightly too long at a foxy young man and then at his foxier twin brother. And then I went to be examined. This nurse was lovely too. She said she totally understood why I’d want to be reassured it was okay before going on holiday. She didn’t think there was a break in the shin cos that would hurt like hell (I’m paraphrasing), but that there’s another bone in that part of the leg that you can break without realising. She said she was happy to send me for an x-ray for reassurance. And that when I got back she’d clean my gammy fingers and give me a tetanus.

To X-ray!

I felt a bit guilty when I was waiting for my x-ray. There were four people on trolley beds, moaning quietly. One had a dislocated shoulder. They were all, quite clearly, in much more need of an x-ray than I was. I still had one, mind. It was fine. No breaks, no cracks, no chips. (Mmmm… chips…) I tootled back to the nurse and she cleaned my fingers and stabbed me in the arm (tetanus), said the clicking could be fluid, and then David picked me up.

But I can’t stop thinking about how lucky we are that we get to go to A&E and have an x-ray just in case. That the nurses didn’t laugh at me, say, “Pull yourself together, you wuss, it’s just a bruise!” or charge thousands of pounds to treat me. If the sample of the novel Where’d You Go, Bernadette? is correct – and I don’t see why it wouldn’t be – in America the emergency room visit would cost $900 and an elective x-ray almost $500. I spent 60p on a Snickers.

My leg’s fine. Thanks for asking.


14 thoughts on “And then I went to A&E…

  1. This is the BEST book signing story EVER. Also the worst. I’m so glad you’re better. I fall down constantly so believe me when I say I can imagine all of this happening to me. 🙂

    When I lived in the States and my BF was injured at work and had to go to A&E, the hospital MADE ME give them a credit card before they would even look at him (his care cost $250) even while he sat on a chair shaking with pain. On the other hand he had amazing treatment, saw a specialist within an hour and in a few days had an operation in a private hospital entirely paid for by a charity that funds surgery for working people who don’t have health insurance.

    Also, I found out later the credit card thing was illegal.

    Then there’s the fact that the chemo that kept my mother alive and well in the US for more than 5 years isn’t available to cancer patients on the NHS because it’s too pricey so…

    Swings and roundabouts.

    Personally, I want the UK and the US to have French healthcare. Because it’s awesome.

    1. Yes, have heard very good things about French healthcare. Money really shouldn’t be a consideration when you’re hurt or ill or even just scared that you may be hurt or ill. The NHS is certainly far from perfect – my mum and dad were both badly let down by it – but we shouldn’t take it for granted, that’s for sure.

      1. Yep, ditto. And I think the problem is not the NHS itself – which is a wonderful idea and something which we OUGHT to be proud of if only we still could – but successive governments who haven’t valued it, protected it, spent enough on it, seen equality of healthcare as a priority. And this lot we’ve got now couldn’t give a shitake mushroom about anyone who has to use it. I’ll stop now. I need to have my teen writing head on and instead I’ve got all wound up and political. Anyway, again, good post Keris.

  2. Husband has dislocated shoulder in UK, US, Netherlands. Easily the best care in the US, but they pursued him for insurance details as they wheeled him into the treatment room. Huge bills afterwards, luckily all covered by insurance. UK – free but crap treatment. NL, insurance based, medieval due to culture of grin and bear the pain. Otherwise we far preferred the Dutch system to the UK, quicker, cleaner, better. But painful.

    1. Yes, when there was a welovetheNHS hashtag on Twitter, I couldn’t think of a single good experience. Mum wasn’t told she had MS (when she went to doctor for something else, he said “With your condition…” and she said, “What condition?” and then her leukaemia wasn’t diagnosed because they all assumed the symptoms were MS. Dad’s Parkinson’s wasn’t diagnosed for ages and then he had a terrible time in hospital. Harry’s birth was a total nightmare.

      But then Joe’s birth was amazing, my ovarian cysts op was great and yesterday was good too. All depends on the individual hospitals (and, of course, staff), I suppose.

  3. I went to the A&E a couple of years ago after a bad fall. My foot was hurting so badly, couldn’t even walk on it. I was actually about to leave for the U.S (where I live) the next day but wanted to make sure I was good to travel etc,.

    The ‘tech’ wouldn’t even x-ray my foot because it wasn’t hurting enough and wasn’t hurting in the right place to warrant an x-ray. I was given some ibuprofen, crutches and sent home.

    I flew home the next day, went straight to the ER here, given an x-ray where a clean break was clearly visible. Two operations later I’m still in pain and can’t wear heels of any kind.

    So while it may not have cost me anything to go to A&E it overall cost me much more.

    1. Oh, that’s awful! Just shows it can be completely different depending on the hospital, which really shouldn’t be the case.

  4. I am pleased your leg is not borked!

    And that we have an NHS (at least we do at the moment), even if it’s not always perfect. I often have to accompany my students to the hospital with my job, and at some point they always anxiously ask if they need to call their parents to arrange the payments, or how much it will cost; sometimes they ask me not to take them at all despite being in pain because they’re worried they might not be able to pay. 😦

    1. That’s just what I kept thinking about on Saturday, Susie. So grateful that I can just tootle along there without worrying about payment.

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