When you’re on vacation, traveling, or studying abroad, the last thing on your mind is any type of sickness or injury. But as we all know, things happen! Well, this “thing” happened to me a few days back and its proved to be an interesting journey! It all started a night out in London. While reminiscing of the 1990’s and the fabulous “Skip-It” toy that many of us loved, I managed to break a bone in my foot, mid skip! Being the soldier that I am, I carried on dancing and enjoying the night, convinced that the shooting pain in my foot was just a sprain. When I was unable to put any weight on my foot the next morning, I realized that it may be more than a sprain. This landed me in the Emergency Room of Chelsea and Westminster Hospital operated by the National Health Service. When I arrived, I was greeted by an overly friendly receptionist who asked the standard questions and had me fill out a form consisting of my name, phone number, and address in the UK. From this point, I waited about 2 hours to be called back, by what I assume, was a nurse or doctors aid. He asked me a few more questions and told me to wait for a doctor to call me back for the second time. An hour or so passed, and my name was called again. I hobbled into a curtained room where a doctor proceeded to examine my foot and order x-rays. From here, another hour was spent waiting for the five x-rays to be taken, and yet another hour to be seen by the doctor once more. This time, she entered the room with a walking, boot-like cast. Sure enough, I had managed to break my foot! She advised me to wear the cast while walking and to keep it elevated when not in use. This clunky boot has become a staple accessory in my wardrobe and I am stuck with it for another three weeks! When looking back at this experience in the ER, I wondered why so many people in the US are frightened by the idea of national healthcare? Besides my excruciatingly long wait, my service and level of care was no different than what I would have received in the US. All the doctors, nurses, and receptionists were extremely friendly and happy to assist me. I had a total of five x-rays and left the hospital with a beautiful walking cast, all without paying a single dime. In my opinion, the five-hour wait trumps an outrageous hospital bill! Because of this experience, I can now say that I have survived the NHS, and actually recommend it.
KJ Scribner is studying abroad in London, England, with the Foundation for International Education (FIE).