I was making small talk for a very good reason. The phlebotomy tray contained not just the usual, if overly large collection of neatly labelled vials, but an IV cannula and a couple of rather-larger-than-I-liked bottles too. The bottles were half filled with what he assured me was not the whisky it looked like (and for which I would have been grateful about then) but the stuff to prepare all the blood he was after for cultures.
He inserted the cannula and began drawing blood, swiftly filling the receptacles.
“It’s more like wine than whisky,” he said, watching the crimson stream. His speech was lightly accented… I asked where he was from. He deftly changed from vial to bottle and the blood flowed…
“Transylvania,” said the man with the firm grip on my flowing arm.
I bit my tongue. There was nothing I could say…
The foot had been getting worse all morning and, by the time I arrived at the village surgery-cum-pharmacy, the top of it was scarlet and covered in blisters, the joints all swollen and walking increasingly difficult. I asked the pharmacist’s advice on how to stop the itching. She cringed asked the receptionist what she thought… who sent me in to the nurse… who took advice from higher up and packed me off to Accident and Emergency.
“Take a seat over there,” said the receptionist who had taken my name and address, asked me what the problem was, cringed and packed me off to wait outside the Minor Injuries unit with the nosebleeds and splinters. I took a seat, waiting an uncomfortable two hours to be called while the swelling moved up the foot.
“Never mind,” texted my friend by way of comfort. “If it was an Australian spider, you’d already be dead.”
“Oh, thank you,” said the charge nurse, calling in his Transylvanian colleague to have a look. “This will be much more interesting than the usual Minors…” I was glad to be of service.
Now, I have to say that both Dracula and the Charge Nurse were absolutely excellent, both professionally and personally. They even attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to find me somewhere more comfortable than Minors, a unit designed for a quick turnover, even though the staffing levels and funding prevent any such thing. Considering their evident relish of the challenge my foot was presenting, I cannot but be grateful for their efforts to dispose of me more suitably. “This isn’t a Minors. Fascinating…”
Four consultants, an uneccessarily large amount of blood, super-rapid (and red-flagged) bloodwork results and an interesting phone call with the Edinburgh Poisons Unit all the way up in Scotland… and they eventually let me go home, armed with strict instructions on how to treat the foot, enough pills to make me rattle, ominous instructions on what should make me come straight back to A&E… and a reminder that it would get worse before it got better. Nice.
After a 3 am waking and a dry day in hospital, I was dying for a coffee as I collected my prescription and headed for the car, realising as I did so, that with all the pills and the parking, the £50 I’d had with me was now all gone and coffee would have to wait.
At a tenner a bite, that bloody spider had expensive taste…
Thank you to everyone who has messaged me good wishes! Normal service will be resumed after sufficient sleep and/or lots of coffee.