We caught a train to Aberdeen in order to explore some of the countryside in greater Aberdeenshire. This would include standing stones, castles, and simply some relaxation time in a smaller city as Edinburgh was a bit overwhelming at times. Everything was going fine until we were rushing to the train station and Ariana fell on her face and cried out.
Her boot lace loop got caught in the boot lace hook on the other shoe and she went down in her knees, hands and face onto the cobblestones. Almost immediately we were surrounded by four people. An older woman who kept repeating we should call and ambulance alternating with the question “Do you want an ambulance”, two young women who were very concerned and a few seconds later the proprietor of the nearby bar, Blackfriars. I identified myself as the husband. I did my best to comfort Ariana while trying to assess if she could be moved. She was bleeding from both nostrils and had blood on her hair and sweater. However there were no gashes and blood was not pouring out just dripping out her nose. I was most concerned about how hard she had hit her head. She was talking and moving slowly so we helped her into a chair the bar owner had brought out. Towels were produced and the woman who kept asking about the ambulance finally got a no from Ariana. The two young ladies and the older woman left after I thanked them.
The bar was quiet. The bar owner, Michael, was very kind. He brought out bandages, alcohol swabs, and a plastic bag to dispose of medical waste. I realized that he was probably highly experienced with people falling in the bar and so was loaded with supplies. After a half hour of calming Ariana decided she wanted to go to the hospital to check things out as her head and knee had begun to hurt.
I inwardly groaned because I knew the long waits people endured in emergency rooms or urgent care centers. However I was mostly concerned about the possibility of a head injury.
We went by cab to the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. I told the driver we really didn’t need the “Royal” Infirmary as we were commoners and a regular infirmary would work just fine. My attempt at humor. He politely replied that the royals had actually been to this infirmary and “here we are all treated the same.” I was soon to find out this was absolutely true.
We were among the first to check in before it got very busy. It was a Saturday so that may have been partly why it became crowded. Basic information was taken and we made it clear we were US citizens and not eligible for UK health care. I was fully prepared to pay with my Visa Card and didn’t give this another thought. We waited only about an hour before being moved to a second location. Less than an hour later Ariana was seen again. She was gone for at least an hour for what I later learned was an assessment by a PA, a neurological test by a neurologist, a scan that was either a CAT scan or an MRI of the head area. We got the results almost right away. The next day Ariana felt some knee pain so she went back on her own by cab and got some more tests. The bill? No charge even though we were clear with each provider that we were US citizens etc.
Ariana had also broken her one temporary false/removeable tooth in the fall and roughed up the teeth on either side which were crowns. The hospital said we would need to go to a private company nearby to have this fixed. They arranged an appointment for the next day. “But tomorrow is Sunday, are you sure they are open?” No problem they replied. It was no problem. The private company was open on Sunday! What kind of a country is this – medical care when people need it! They smoothed her teeth on each side and fixed the false tooth in three hours. They even improved the tooth by adding an extra support to make it stronger. They charged us $75 for an office visit and tooth repair. Another bargain.
The next day, Monday Ariana had some knee pain so she went back to the hospital where they did an exam and xrayed the knee. Again no charge.
I told several cab drivers this story to and from the hospital. None of them were surprised. “I guess we take it for granted here” one commented.
It made us realize how important prompt, compassionate health care is and how sad it is that we in the US don’t have it.
I told several cab drivers that, in the US, unless you are unconscious, or in immediate danger, you are always asked “how are you paying for this?” Before you can see a doctor. In the UK the commoners and the royals go to the same hospital.