Double Flu

I've been sick for 11 days. 

I don't mean that I've had a lingering cough that hasn't gone away for 11 days. I mean that, for 11 days, I've barely been able to leave my house or walk to the bathroom without keeling over from coughing. I'm over it. Spencer is really over it.

Five days into this ordeal, I schlepped to Urgent Care where I tested positive for strep. When antibiotics didn't help after five more days, I went back for another visit. I almost cried talking to the nurse. "I'm just not getting any better," I told her. "And I'm so, so tired." As I get older and the nurses get younger, it becomes more humiliating to be vulnerable in front of them. Maybe I was extra sensitive due to "my situation"? Living alone. A single dog parent (yes, this is thing for me). Accountable to essentially no one but my employer. And now, sick as hell. Woe, woe is me.

In the exam room, the same nurse told me she was going to take some samples for flu and mono tests. Apparently there's an option where they prick your finger repeatedly and try to squeeze out enough blood? If that doesn't work, they go for the arm anyway. The finger pricking sounded horrific, so I opted to just go for the vein. Not pleasant, but manageable. After that, I suffered the indignity of her sticking a Q-tip up my nose. (Did I mention she was a cute nurse my age?) "Is your nose wet or dry?" she asked. "Um, I think it's pretty dry." "Yup! Pretty dry. Oh... oh. Wet!" Ugh.

I ended up testing positive for two different strains of flu. At least some justification for feeling like death! They opted to hydrate me with fluids via an IV drip and went into my other arm. So, I got pricked again, sat there for 40 minutes, and watched Ellen on TV -- perfect timing! -- as the clear stuff magically entered my bloodstream. For the first time in ten days, I actually felt better.

Sadly, the best part of my visit was not the IV drip but the nurse cleaning all the blood off my hand and arm. I'm apparently a bleeder, so there was a fair amount. She took those little alcohol swabs and spent time cleaning all the red off my skin. She'd take my hand and gently twist to get to all the spots. A five-year relationship recently up in smoke and, I admit, it was just nice to be touched again, even by a latex-gloved hand. 


The Georgetown invasion of London is over and I'm recooping before the craziness of my 6-week Easter Break. That's not a type-o. 6 weeks. I'll be traveling for approximately 4.5 of those weeks, not quite consecutively (thank god).

So as usual, in anticipation of all the excitement of visitors, I got sick. After a trip to the local clinic doctor and several days of feeling worse, I headed to the hospital. I've got to hand it to the NHS. I was only in the waiting room for 1.5-2 hours. Then I was in my own little room for 45 minutes. And then I felt pretty taken care of by doctors and nurses. Also, lucky for me, Kate and Andrea were there for essential moral support.

I've seen many sides of the NHS and I'm really fortunate that all of its services are free. But if you dare to open a little pamphlet about how it is funded, you'll notice that the NHS consumes roughly 1/3 of the entire budget for England. With VAT and high income taxes, is it worth it? I'm going to say... overall, no. Had the doctor at the clinic been more thorough and less efficient with my initial visit, I feel like I wouldn't have had to go to the hospital. Or if I had more faith that a GP could do something for me if I went back, I wouldn't have bothered to go to the hospital. But because efficiency is the main goal of the GPs, I knew it was a dead-end and hence diverted to the hospital. Still, care at the hospital was top notch. They took an X-Ray of my stomach/intestines, a urine sample, and two blood tests all without the hassle of me worrying how much it would cost.

Maybe a smidge of social medicine mixed with private care? That'd be a happy blend. Easier said than done. I'm more than rusty with my knowledge of health care issues in the U.S. so I will stop here. When all is said and done, I'm doing well now. I'm eating normally and am back to attending class. Some class teachers were a bit more understanding than others . You drop the word "hospital" in an email and expect a little sympathy. Unfortunately, only human beings can exhibit such emotion.

I'm glad to be back in good health, because trips are rapidly approaching. Hopefully my body will hold up for me, although I'm confident it will since only 2 of the weeks will be tiring movement from place to place. The rest will be relaxing in what I hope is Italian paradise. Sardinia, however, is not the island I thought it would be unfortunately. I think "island" and I think warm and sunny, but Sardinia's high looks to be in the low 60s this time of year. Yet my the climbing club email for the packing list included both down jacket AND bikini. Hmm. So do I wear my bikini underneath my thermals to go for a "refreshing" swim after climbing? Interesting.

Starting Sunday, March 16th, I will be out of contact until the following Sunday (Easter). Then I am back for two days before having limited email access for the next week and half, but hopefully, I'll be checking in. Hope everyone is doing well.