Pickup time for our very first activity in London, the collection of the Mongolian visas is fast approaching and here I am lying on a bed in the busy A & E (Accident and Emergency) department of the Charing Cross hospital with a cannula in my right arm and a nasal tampon that seems about half a metre long up my left nostril! Our first wrinkle in this RTW adventure, so how did we get here?
My wake up call came early this morning, four a.m. to be precise. The feeling of warm blood running down one’s face works as a wake up call for me. Nose bleeds are something I have not experienced for many, many years, so this is a surprise. A little judicious nose squeezing and I was able to stop this one and the three subsequent nosebleeds before we left the hotel room looking like a murder crime scene without the body. I wonder if the cleaners called the police just in case. We travelled to the Mongolian Embassy in Knightsbridge where the day slowly degenerated following another nosebleed outside the visa section and I painted a nice vivid red pattern on the pavement but did stop the bleeding. Time to do something about this so off to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital A&E department, since this was the closest. A nice walk past Earls Court on a sunny London day. We did stop at a GP’s office to be told that a single visit would cost £120, about AUD$200!, keep walking..
As this was likely to be a lengthy process, as all A&E visits are, Anne carried on to her mother’s, and I would stay in London to collect the passports, with visas, at 4pm. An hour or so after seeing the triage nurse, I get to see an A&E registrar (doctor). It turns out that I am at the wrong hospital for my type of problem, not only are there now multiple capability levels of Hospital A&E in the U.K. but hospitals now specialise and ENT (Ear, Nose and Throat) is handled at Charing Cross Hospital, which is nowhere near Charing Cross. The doctor at Chelsea and Westminster tells me they do not even have the equipment, a special camera, to look up my nose. It pays to check in advance, if you can, which hospitals have your injury/illness speciality. I am advised to try a special nasal antiseptic cream, but if the nose bleeds start again, go to Charing Cross A&E.
All is looking Ok, across the road to the pharmacy for the cream and I start to think about lunch, then whoosh….., it’s back on again and does not want to stop . Damm. Into a London black cab and off to Charing Cross A&E. In the cab we discussed the damage Uber is doing to the London transportation system, more on that in an another blog entry.
At Charing Cross A&E, I think I got priority due to dripping blood in various places – note to self, always carry some red cake colouring to get up the queue. Past the triage nurse and I am in the examination cubicle. Blood pressure taken, again, a cannula into the arm, and blood is drawn for testing. All very efficient. I then get introduced to a ‘nasal tampon’, which I had never heard of, advised to close my eyes and on the count of three..Ouch!!! This why, as a child, you should not put pencils up your nose.
Not comfortable, but it does stop the blood flow. It’s now about 2:30pm and I have visas to collect at 4pm, the clock is ticking. By 3:30pm, still waiting, I realise that I will not be collecting the visas today. Here we are on the first day of our journey and we are a heading for a day behind already. No wonder we are called the “2slowspeeds”.
My treatment cubicle in A&E is needed so I am ushered into a new waiting room adjacent to the A&E waiting room to wait for an ENT specialist to see me. I feel like I have come full circle waiting with others and as we swap stories, I find that we have all been taken care of, but there are long waiting periods with no contact or information that people find frustrating. As the hours tick by I hope that I can get out to catch a train to the hotel at a reasonable hour. As no one wants to miss their slot, meals are missed and patients get cranky. How does one bridge the information void between busy staff and waiting patients. If there was an easy answer, a solution would have been developed.
After a couple of hours, I am called in to see the ENT specialist. Now I imagine a quick examination, a possible cauterisation and I will be on my way. Errr NO… I am being admitted to stay overnight as the ‘nasal tampon’ needs to stay in place for 24 hours and it and I need to remain in the hospital! Definitely not what I was expecting. Due to OH&S, I am wheeled in a chair through a labyrinth of corridors to the far side of the hospital. Will I be able find my way back again?
The next morning the nurses draw blood for the third time. I am sure if they see a cannula in the arm, they just draw blood as a matter of course. The ENT specialist too visits, removes the ‘nasal tampon’: it’s as much fun coming out as it was going in. A quick camera scan and some cauterisation and I am on the way to the Russian visa processing centre. My 24 hour detour is over and we are only 2 hours behind schedule, we are back on track. My thanks to all in the NHS that made this possible.