Saturday, December 4, 2010

Sat 4 Dec - Urgences!

Less than 24 hours after getting back from Cuba, and we found ourselves in A&E, or 'Urgences,' as they brilliantly call it here. That's the name they give "ER" when it's on TV too. C's sore throat, which had been developing over the last 2 days of the honeymoon, got even worse in the night. It was revealed by the doctor to be an abcess on the tonsils, combined with a throat infection. Ouch. So bad, that eating or drinking anything was extremely painful.

Now, normally, you'd expect to see a doctor, get a prescription for some antibiotics, and be on your way. But, this is Belgium. They like to control everything centrally. And it seems, your health too is government property. C was told to expect to spend the next 3-4 days in hospital. They clearly don't have a bed shortage in Mons. In England they can't get rid of you quick enough. You have to be dying in order to get a bed. In fact, when C protested, the answer was a simple: 'either stay in hospital and have your antibiotics intravenously, or go home where'll you get no antibiotics and be in pain.' Nice bunch.

So, back to reality with a bang. Cold and snowing outside, wife in hospital bed with a drip coming out of to her hand, back to speaking incomprehensible pigeon French with strangers, and crazy of all, painful red-raw sunburn on my right shoulder.

Listening to C's account of her time in hospital, it seems that there's little difference between the quality of care between the two countries: unsympathetic/cold nurses, (all nurses and doctors really need to regularly attend 'human empathy courses.' You would have thought this would be a basic requirement if you worked in the medical profession. Clearly not), mixed wards, inedible food making aeroplane food look like fine dining, woken up every few hours in the night by nurses wandering in and out and turning the lights on, and a lack of doctors around on the weekend.

At least C got some free French practice. Can't imagine what it would have been like being there this time last year, considering our level of French then.

A surreal few days. All the street Christmas lights were now on but I couldn't have felt less Christmassy.


  1. Oh man, what a bumpy landing back for you guys, that really sucks! I hope C is on the mend, and hopefully things take a turn for the more festive for you two in the coming days.

  2. Yeah she's fine now, thanks Jessica. Luckily it all happened right at the very end of the holiday. Not much fun staying in a hospital though where you're never entirely sure you've understood everything that has been said.