So this has been my first year of Christmas without my family. Luckily though on of my room mates invited me down to their parents’ for Christmas so I didn’t have to sit alone on Christmas twiddling my thumbs. That may have been a bit more depressing than I could have handled.
It was a really nice Christmas and I got to try foods that I’ve never had before. We had Christmas dinner on Christmas eve and then on Christmas day we just had leftovers. The first new thing I got to eat was tongue which tastes a lot like corn beef actually (or at least how it was cooked them time it tasted like corn beef). I like it a lot which isn’t a huge surprise as I like corn beef. I also go to try creamed brussel sprouts which was nummy. For desert we had apple crunch. The next day my room mates mommy made bubble and squeak. Another thing I’ve never had. It was so nummy. I could eat that ALL THE TIME. And we had apricot mousse and then lemon surprise pudding. Both very nummy desserts.
For Christmas we just did secret santa rather than a whole bunch of gifts. Even I joined in. I got my room mates dad from the hat so I had my grandma bring over a bottle of red wine from California as my gift for him. I got a book (The Eyre Affair) and the game Dead Space for my PC. Awesome.
It was a nice few days. I got to meet some new people (friends and family of my room mates) and all in all had a great time.
Today I spent a majority of my day wandering Lancaster city center. I was going to make black bean soup but by the time I thought to check the hour it was WAY to late for bean soup making. So tomorrow it’ll have to be. My walking trip started off with me dropping some books off at the library. The library here is teeny. So rather than going in sorta knowing what I want I just browse the aisles until something catches my eye. I’m not spoiled for choice at this library because of how small it is but on the other hand I think that will make me more likely to pick up books I normally wouldn’t and try them out. So in a way this might be better.
While I was out today I was passed twice by ambulances with their sirens blaring. This is what made me think of talking about my NHS visits, especially because my grandma wanted me to. Also, the sirens on emergency vehicles here seem so much LOUDER than the ones back home. There has been a number of times where I almost jumped out of my skin when they drove past they are so loud.
My first trip to the Accident and Emergency (A&E) ward here happened after I’d only been here a few weeks. I have had a rather bad gallbladder for a while now and so the attack itself wasn’t a surprise. I was sorta hoping that I would have had the chance to register with the school health center (or I suppose centre since I’m in England) and make an appointment first but such is life, eh?
It was just a normal attack, a bit more painful than normal and I had no more painkillers. I was lucky though as T (he and his wife R are the ones letting me my room here in Lancaster) couldn’t sleep and when he rambled downstairs and saw me in pain, called a taxi. What was even nicer was that he came with me to the A&E and stayed the whole 3-4 hours that I was there. A really nice guy T is.
The nurses, doctors, receptionist, everyone really at the NHS were very nice. I got good care and I didn’t really wait any longer there than I have had to wait at home. I even got some morphine for the pain (my first experience with morphine). I actually wrote a post on facebook about my second visit to the A&E and will copy/paste it here.
From my facebook notes the day I got back from the hospital:
So, I got to go to the A&E (Accident and Emergency) ward last night again. I woke up with a really bad gallbladder attack, again, and took a taxi to A&E. I got in a lot quicker this time though and they ended up giving me 10ml of morphine for the pain. I’ve decided that while morphine is lovely for taking away the pain just about instantaneously, I really really hate how it makes me feel. I get all dzzy and lightheaded, I feel queasy, and it makes my arms feel heavy. Actually it feels like something heavy is pressing down on my whole body. I’m not a fan.
The NHS though? Oh, that’s LOVELY. The doctors and nurses are all extremely nice and helpful. Also, since I’m on an academic program that lasts longer than 6 months I get the NHS for free! Yay!
So, after I got the painkiller the Emergency doctor told me that he would like to admit me to the hospital as this was the second attack in 6 days that has sent me to emergency which is worrying. Also, by admitting me it pushed up the time for me to get an ultrasound. So I stayed in the hospital last night and got an ultrasound this morning. I’ve never been admitted to the hospital before so this was all new for me. The ultrasound showed that I have gallstones (surprise!) and that quite a few of them were rather large apparently. Which may account for why these most recent attacks have been EXTREMELY painful. Like, double me over if I stand up painful. I was in the hospital for a while after the ultrasound because they wanted me to eat lunch and see if the food bothered me at all. I’ve only been back home for about an hour and a half or so.
I’m feeling much better now if a bit exhausted and wrung out. I really miss home and my family and friends. Nothing is worse than sitting in the hospital all by yourself.
In about six weeks I’ll have an outpatient appointment with the hospital again to discuss surgery for my gallbladder. Which is nice because that means that sometime soon I won’t have to worry about or experience these horribly painful attacks ever again.
As an update I have an appointment with the surgeon on Aug. 23 to talk about removing my gallbladder.
So all in all my experience with the NHS here in England has been lovely. It is nice to know that if I get sick I have somewhere I can go and that I won’t have to pay astronomical hospital bills after.
Next Monday I will be getting a haircut. I’ll be sure to post pictures of how it look ^__^.
So of course I’ve already mentioned that I was taking a trip to England to meet with my new Professors and see the school. I’ve been home over a whole week now and I think it’s about time I got my act together and did a post about my trip. I have a feeling this may take me a few hours and I’ll have to try to remember everything I did, pull out some notes and go day by day through my memories. I may even have to separate this into two post, my time in London and my time in Liverpool. Surely there’s a maximum word count for these posts.
I got to the airport with plenty of time to spare having arrived there 2 and a half hours early. I got through security rather quickly and spent about an hour sitting around and reading while I waited for them to start boarding passengers. I added some P.G Wodehouse books to my Kindle while I still could (I’m a sucker for Wodehouse’s Jeeves, partly because my grandma use to watch the show when I was a child and partly because Jeeves strongly reminds me of Ianto Jones from Torchwood. I strongly believe the resemblance to Ianto is what makes me love these stories so much). We got onto the plane really quickly. Somehow the science of the weather and winds was supposedly going to help us on our flight as the projected time of arrival in England was for a whole hour earlier than originally stated. The plane trip wasn’t so bad as I got to watch Julie and Julia and Ellen. We also did land a whole 40 minutes ahead of schedule, which is always a good thing in my book.
I successfully navigated the Underground Tube (known simply as the Tube) from the London Heathrow terminal to Earl’s Court station using directions sent to me from Dr. Rod Dillon (my new major professor). From there I took a taxi to the Norwegian Y.W.C.A, the hostel I planned to stay at during my time in London.
The people were really nice here. Plus, with food included in with the price of the room, really really cheap. They had upgraded me to the 2 bed room from the 4 bed room. I only had to pay the price for a 4 bed room even though I was staying in a 2 bed room, which was awesome. I spent the first 2 nights there and the last night. Just for future reference, my room was up four flights of stairs from the first floor when you walk in. The dining room is a floor below that so it’s 5 flights of stairs to reach my room then. It was a lot of stairs, especially when carrying bags. My roommate while I was there, Cecilia, was really super nice. She was half Norwegian and half English. She actually lived at the Y.W.C.A as she was going to school in London. She spoke both English and Norwegian. Apparently about a week before I was there she was in the hospital because she had had an appendicitis and just recently gotten out. Crazy. But still, she was really sweet, had an adorable fashion since (very British) and was just cute as a button. I wanted to keep her.
I was actually able to drag myself to the Natural History Museum that first day I was there. I landed at 10:45am and was checked in by 2pm at the hostel. My room wasn’t completely clean yet so I wandered over to Holland Park to find a CarPhone Warehouse where I was able to get my new phone. I did buy the Samsung B3310 but I had the choice between a pink or black phone! Huzzah! I chose black. She looks like this:
I took a shower, hopped on the tube and went off to explore the museum. I didn’t do TOO much exploring as I was already exhausted but I was able to see the new Darwin Center which was just amazing.
The Natural History Museum was HUGE and they had a ice skating rink right outside, which was just all kinds of awesome. I really liked the place and I hope to be able to spend more time there someday.
After that I grabbed a sandwich (because by adventure at the museum ran into dinner time at the hostel) headed back to the Y.W.C.A and went to bed. My next huge adventure was the next day where I was going to explore as much of London in that one day as I possible could.
I didn’t have to get up too early as breakfast wasn’t until 9am and I didn’t want to miss my opportunity to get my free breakfast and make my free paper bag lunch. I had toast with jam and tea for breakfast and then made a cucumber and tomato sandwich with cream cheese for lunch. I then set off to the tube where I went to Oxford Circus because I wanted to see all the cool stores. If I had money I would have gone hog-wild in this place ya’ll because it was that amazing. I wanted SO many things and the clothing in the windows was really cute. Why am I so poor? From there I headed to Leicester square. I ambled along for a while until I came across Trafalgar square and the National Gallery. Ya’ll the National Gallery kicks ass. No kidding. Well, if you like art it does and BOY does it have ART. It was SO cool. I saw an actual van Gogh. I saw his sunflowers and his chair. And others. There was also Monet’s water lilies and few other of his paintings. I saw Manet, Toulouse-Lautrec, Degas, Seurat, Renoir, Raphael, Vermeer, etc. It was amazing. I spent over 2 hours there. For your viewing pleasure:
The National Gallery is on the left and the view in front of the gallery on the right (sorry for the not so great pictures but I had to use my crappy lens and it was sprinkling). Very awesome. I didn’t take pictures inside the gallery as I wasn’t sure if I could.
After that I picked up one of those tour buses as I wanted to see has much as possible in the shortest amount of time. While I was waiting to get on the bus it started to rain pretty heavily. One of the guys that sales the tickets for the bus grabbed my hand and took me over to an area that had a little overhanging roof to get out of the rain. he asked if I was French and I said no, that I was American (although being confused for French isn’t so bad as they have good fashion sense. I guess my clothes looked nice that day. Woot!). He then asked if I spoke French and I said only a little. Apparently he was French and I got to practice a little. He also wanted to meet me later for a drink O.o; Which was very flattering but he was much older, not THAT cute and I didn’t feel comfortable meeting up with a guy for drinks in a country I’ve never been to before. Hard to keep yourself safe when you don’t know all the rules or safe bolt holes to go to.
From there I got on the bus and I got to see Buckingham Palace with the statues in front,
And it was absolutely freezing by this point. I hadn’t dressed as warmly as I had been warm the day before in my jacket. But there were 50mph winds on that day so it was much colder. While I was waiting for the bus again at Buckingham Palace I ambled into a little gift shop which is part of the palace. I bought my grandma Jackie a Christmas ornament. There were really cute things inside the story but they were REALLY expensive. The ornament at least was in my price range.
The bus finally came and I went off to see the London Eye,
the house of parliament,
And of course, Westminster Abbey,
although it was closed for sightseeing for the inside that day. BUT! If you’re willing to sit for the hour long service you were able to go into the church. As I didn’t mind going in (especially because at this point I was freezing) to listen to the service and the choir singing so that’s what I did. Since it was a service you weren’t allowed to take pictures but it is absolutely GORGEOUS inside. I really liked it. There were tons of statues and amazing architecture. Really amazing. And the stained glass windows were beautiful. The singing was fun too.
After that I headed back to the Y.W.C.A, called my grandma, had dinner and went to bed. I had a train to catch the next morning to head off to Liverpool. I’ll talk about that in my next post as this post is getting a bit long.