An evening in the ER...

If you follow me on FB, you may have already heard about our medical adventure the other evening. Here is the full story...
     My husband Stan is a wonderful cook. (I am a very lucky woman, I know.) Recently, he made us lamb chop (lollipops) marinated in cumin and served with a mint tzatziki sauce and mixed green vegetables sautéed in garlic and cherry tomatoes. It was sublime - one of the best meals he's ever made for us. We sat enjoying the meal, and the view out our big windows which framed a lovely sunset. Great music was playing and when Donna Summer's "Dim All the Lights" came on, we had to dance!
     My husband is a wonderful cook. He is not a wonderful dancer. But we tried anyway and we laughed...until Stan stumbled just so and landed with a spectacular and cinematic crash into the glass top coffee table shattering it completely. (This is the remains after I got the glass off the floor.)
His rear end landed right on our copy of CLEOPATRA'S MOON (sorry, Vicky Alvear Shecter, the author!), which seemed laughingly appropriate - moon, meet Moon.
     Of course, he tried to catch himself on the way down, slicing open the ring finger of his right hand. It wasn't terribly deep, but it was full of glass and bled like crazy. Later, we discovered he had injuries elsewhere as well — a badly bruised ankle and several other cuts, but the finger stole the show. All said, it could have been much worse — he was lucky.
     Along with 999 (the equivalent of 911 in the US) the UK has a fantastic helpline you can call 24/7 - 111. We spoke with the folks there and they suggested we get him to the ER, except that's not what they call it here. They call it A&E (accident and emergency) and we hadn't dealt with it before—didn't even know where it was. What do you do for a semi-ish emergency? You call a cab. Turns out they know how to get to the A&E asap.
     The emergency room seemed like any other in the world, although they saw us rather quickly to assess Stan's condition. They sent him in for X-rays to see how much glass was in the wound.
     After that we waited. And waited. I worried that we had finally hit that problem people say you have with socialized medicine. But y'know what? I've been to ER rooms in the US, and you wait there too. What's different about it in the UK is the priorities - and they really do feel different. (Click the sign to read it larger in a new window.)
     The core belief here is that everybody has a right to good health and happiness. It seems so subtle, but it changes everything.
      Finally, Stan was called and a doctor gave him a local so that he could dig the glass out of his finger. He wrapped him up tight with a butterfly and sent us home...without charging us a dime. We even asked. "Do we owe you anything?" "No, you're good."
     So, now we know how to deal with medical emergencies. Hopefully, it won't come up again, but considering this is the second time I've been to the ER over one of Stan's digits, I'm not holding my breath. (He tried to cut off his pinky finger one Thanksgiving - but that's a story for another day - and a good one!) Stan is healing well, doing fine —thanks so much for all the well wishes. And I'm doing the cooking for now.


Lisa Jacobi said...

Elizabeth - As team leader of the U.S. Olympic Team and various American athletic teams traveling throughout Europe for competitions, I have taken more athletes and team staff to emergency rooms or to see a doctor than I would care to remember.

Not once did we pay for medical service that far surpassed what was available to us in the United States.

For almost all my life I was told that we had the best system in the world that served its population better than any other place. Then I experienced the truth. So, despite our family carrying required medical insurance - our medical plan, should we ever face an extreme health situation? Use a small percentage of the bankrupting-money we would pay to the U.S. medical industry monster and instead... fly to Europe, live and be a contributing member of the community there, and take advantage of the dignity and excellent care provided to all.

Oh, and tell Stan we love him. (<-- knowing how we joke back and forth, that was not easy to type without inserting a little humorous jab -- did I say jab?)


Vicky Alvear Shecter said...

Wow, what a story! Glad you're okay, Stan! We would've loved to have seen that "Dancing with the Shards" event! ;-)

I waited several house in the ER once when I cut my arm. It was a very cold and uncaring experience. When the hospital later contacted me to get feedback about "serving us" better, I didn't complain about the wait because, duh, my cut was not life-threatening, etc. Instead, I complained about the fact that they had ZERO reading materials available to those waiting. Just one large droning television. I ended up walking around the place just to find a newspaper machine and paid for a newspaper. Other people waiting shyly asked to read the parts I wasn't reading at the time. It absolutely floored me that it never occurred to them that people might want to READ something while they waited. I know this has nothing to do with quality of care and all but it did strike me as making those of us waiting as feeling uncared for. Granted, this was not one of the "richer" hospitals around, but that made it seem even worse. Sorry to go off on a tangent. Just glad Stan is A-ok!

Robyn Hood Black said...

Oh my goodness - so glad Stan is on the mend, and interesting peek into a different way of handling emergencies. Sigh. I confess great amusement at the whole Cleopatra's Moon/moon dynamic; Vicky, now THAT's a story! ;0) XO

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

I hear you guys. It was an eye-opening experience! e

laurasalas said...

Holy, schmoly. Glad Stan is OK--what a stressful night. Maddie has not had as great of experience with the socialized medicine there. For emergency care, it can be great, but for ongoing chronic situations or things tricky to diagnose, not so much. That has been her experience so far, anyway (and it's troubling for her, since she paid several hundred pounds out of pocket for her medical coverage with her visa--the first time she's ever paid for her own medical care). Hopefully, though, y'all will have no need of more medical care. Keep dancing (just maybe not near glass tables!) :>)

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

Laura, I'm sorry your daughter hasn't had as good an experience as we have. Truly, I'm not sure there's such a thing as perfect healthcare in the world anywhere, but so far, we've been very happy. And yeah - there may be some dance lessons in our future. :)

Elisabeth said...

So glad he's ok and that you had a good experience with the A&E. Mine was a horror that I wouldn't wish on anyone. Keep dancing - just mind those coffee tables!