Squid's birthday on Thursday was pretty uneventful to start with - she and SWMBO hung around the house, opening presents and waiting for me to get in around 9pm.
No longer had I kicked the door open and shouted 'Hi Honey, I'm Home!' (Flintstone-esk) they had shoved me back in the car and we drove to the nearest health center. Where we spent 10 minutes wandering around looking for the entrance door. Finally we buzzed the buzzer, told them the patients name and they said:
Yes. That fantastic, wonderful GP-24 service we have in middle-of-nowhereville that means you cant call the doctor to come out, you have to call a call center (in Glasgow, 200 miles away) who then refer you to the nearest appropriate facility depending on symtoms, and forward on your health record - had failed. Well. Gee. Thanks.
They let us in, explained that there were no doctors at that facility, and kindly called ahead to the nearest Big Hospital, where we went in some haste.
Why? Squid's ear was now very sore - and just a few days after a major ear operation (where they literally peeled her ear off and then had a good dig around in there) was not good news. She'd been in increasing pain for 24 hours..
At the Big Hospital, we saw a doctor, who read her notes (and various bits of paperwork) and guessed that there was some sort of infection going on. Not serious - no obvious symtoms of that - but certainly increased pain. He gave her some *really* strong painkillers, advised a nights rest and booked us back to the Ear Ward at the hospital she was operated at, 10:30am next morning.
And so we wended off home for birthday cake.
(I have to point out that within 2.5 hours of calling the service with a non-emergency condition, she saw a doctor, was diagnosed, prescribed and given medicine, and a follow-up check scheduled, all at 9pm at night. And all because we have healthcare for free. The paperwork cockup was caused by the badly-planned introduction of a new service which appears to be ran by baboons. In other words, we here in the UK really appreciate our healthcare system, despite some issues. I heartily recommend that you USA'ians tell your Republican Idiots (And this is a term I don't use loosely) about it so you too - as the last industrialised nation on earth - may enjoy healthcare. I will only take criticism on this point from people who have actually sat and watched 'Sicko'.).
Friday morning, bright and early. I was up at sparrow-fart, taking the rear wheel off my motorcycle (new tyre required) and moving a metric-assload of insulation around my barn (in order to actually see the floor). Tyre on back seat, cleaned up, and onto work, explaining that I cant be around that morning. Thankfully, most of the work-related crisises have already been resolved this week.
And so back to the Really Big Hospital, and the waiting room, where we had wisely prepared with water, chocolate and papers. Some 40 minutes later (and there were a *lot* of folks in there), Squid went in, and exited about 6 minutes later.
'They want me back on the ward for observation'. Cue a frantic 30 minute run to the petrol station (I had limped in on fumes), her flat (no clothes for this unexpected visit) and a supermarket (no clean clothes at her flat - she's a student remember).
And so around 1.15pm, she was back in ward, on a bed, and just been examined by one of the Ear consultants, who gave us two options - infection (in which case antibiotics) or an allergic reaction to the 10 feet of 'packing' that was stuffed in her ear).
I went home to pick up SWMBO and just for fun, burn 2 years of accumulated bits of junk mail and paper. Far more satisfying than shredding I feel, and fitted my state of mind at the time.
And so back to the Really Big Hospital, where we find that diagnosis #2 - allergy - was the case, and her packing has been replaced (quite painfully it would appear). Swelling was down and she was back home by 11pm.
Phew. What a day.
Okay. None of this was *serious* or life threatening. I could have just let her drive down by herself (but some of her pain medication meant that she wouldnt have been able to drive back). The nice thing is that this latest ear operation has restored hearing in her right ear again (no more excuses!) and once the allergy thing was sorted out - very little pain after such a major operation.
There was nothing that the medical staff - and I mean *all* medical staff that we met - would not had done to help. Its an odd thing but folks here tend not to think of the National Heath Service here in the UK till you need it - and thankfully anytime myself or anyone in our family *has* needed it - its never let us down.