My overriding goal during the trip to Scotland was to do everything in my power to keep Sara Jean’s catheter from causing her problems. I knew that if things went badly, it would mean a trip to the hospital.
The catheter worked fine, but we had not one but three trips to medical facilities in Scotland. Only one involved Sara Jean, the others were for Dale.
Dale wounded his shin at some time on the trip. When Sara Jean and I first saw the wound, we told him he had better clean it up and bandage it. Dale was unaware he had even hurt himself, and he did clean and dress the wound.Mull Pottery, where Sara Jean hoped to find a tea pot. Dale went into the store first to see if it was wheelchair accessible. In the meantime, I worked on unfastening the wheelchair. After readying the lift, I looked on the ground and saw a fairly large puddle of blood. Oh, crud. What did I do to Sara Jean? The stitches weren’t even out yet on her leg wound – did I injure her again? Frantic, I examined her and myself for signs of bleeding. Nothing. Dale emerged from the store, and I called him over to help me find the wound on Sara Jean.
That’s when I saw the blood on his leg. It was dripping. He propped his leg on the van step to take a closer look, and the blood began to spray. Dale is on Plavix, and he was gushing. I ran into the store to find out the location of the nearest clinic. I knew exactly where Dale had been in the store from the trail of blood on the tile floor. The owner seemed unperturbed and informed me that the nearest clinic was in Salen. Salen? We just came from Salen.
A kind woman who did first-response work was in the store. She came out to the van and found me holding gauze pads against the wound to try to stop the bleeding. She went to her car and returned with a pressure bandage. She got the bleeding under control. Dale sat in the van with his leg propped up. He informed Sara Jean that the shop was accessible and did have tea pots. Well, we all have priorities. Sara Jean and I headed into the shop to buy a teapot. We came out about an hour later. It was a really terrific shop. In our defense, I did check on Dale a couple of times to make sure he had not lost consciousness.
Dale insisted on driving to Salen, so after we had finished shopping, we headed to the clinic. We met a very kind woman with the title Sister on her name tag. We thought she was a nun, but she explained that she was what we might call a Charge Nurse. We didn’t have to wait to be seen. She cleaned and bound Dale’s wound, told him to have it checked in three days, and sent us on our way. No bills. No insurance information. Dale had to twist her arm to take a donation for their emergency fund.
Dale didn’t visit the clinic in three days. He said it would put a wrench in our schedule. He did visit one a week later, this time in Kirkwall in Orkney, when blood started pouring from underneath his bandage. Again, there was no wait, and the people were very nice. A handsome young doctor helped treat the wound, and they gave us a bag with extra bandages and dressings and some little green bed pads for Sara Jean. (I have become a bit of a bed pad hoarder.) Dale pressed them to take some money for their nurse’s fund.
Our third visit was to the hospital in Banff, when Sara Jean split her toe. Sara Jean is on Coumadin, and the toe bled profusely. We waited only a few minutes before being shown to a treatment room. Sara Jean was seen both by a nurse and a very nice doctor. The wound was ragged and unable to be stitched, but they cleaned and bound it, gave her a prescription for an antibiotic, and gave us the supplies for changing the dressing. Once again, Dale had to force them to take some money for a Christmas party. No claim forms. No lines. No hassle.
The Scots and English we met are very proud of their healthcare system, and I can see why. It serves their needs. I did overhear one woman on the Isle of Mull say that she was not getting surgery done because she would have to go to Glasgow for the procedure, and she didn’t want to do that. That was the closest I heard to a negative comment regarding healthcare. Our experience, though limited, was very positive.
Our healthcare debate is big news in the U.K. and Canada. The people I have talked with like their system, and they don’t understand why so many Americans resist it. Americans like me. So why aren’t I sold on nationalized health care? I don’t believe that healthcare is the business of the Federal government. You know, the “establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense” stuff. I suppose it could come under the broad heading of “promote the general welfare,” but I believe that less government intrusion in our lives is best. I am skeptical that the government can manage the healthcare system fairly and efficiently. I am not paranoid. I am not a conspiracy theorist. I just look at other government programs (can you say Fannie Mae?) and am uneasy with the thought of a government-run healthcare system.
Still, I must admit, it seems to work in the U.K. If you have to bleed overseas, Scotland is a pretty terrific place to be.