Monday, January 12, 2009

Welcome to England - Avoid the Germs

I’m not sure if it is completely fair to blame Air India for this, but being that they charged me 243$ extra for four small suitcases, I think they probably could afford to install some better disinfectant system. I had the feeling that I was travelling on a giant petri dish, and one week later I discover I was right.

So I step off the air india flight to the UK last Monday morning at 6am and by 5 pm Thursday I have strep throat. I don’t think I’ve had strep since I was in high school, so I thought it was the flu at first. In particular, I failed to remember the other main symptom besides the high fever and the wicked sore throat: the rash. Woo boy. I look like I got massively sunburned 360 degrees around from knees to shoulders, like a lobster. And it itches like the bejesus. So this delightful little welcome wagon will give me my first experience with the British health care system. Unfortunately, to complicate my life it turns out that I do not yet have a national insurance number (there was some snafu and the paperwork was delayed). Nonetheless, I now need to convince someone to give me some damn penicillin. Although right now I think I would settle for some hydrocortisone to get rid of this nasty rash. I’ll keep you updated.

First update: Walked into the local health clinic with no identification whatsoever, explained my story and they happily gave me an appointment for later this afternoon.

Second update: The doctor apologized for being 10 minutes late at the end of the day and then spent over half an hour examining me. Not that I was unhappy with my doctor in NY but to get his full attention for half an hour would probably have required four visits. He concluded that it looked like a strep infection of some sort - but not the typical strep throat. More likely scarlet fever. Prescribed penicillin to kill the strep, and zantac zirtek and a large bottle of calamine for the rash. Doctor's visit was free. Drugs totaled something like 15 GBP. So far I'm thrilled with the british health care system.

Third update: After 36 hours on the drugs, the fever is certainly gone and even the persistent painful rash seems to be fading a bit. I can even stand up and sit down without wincing (Note to self: never get a sunburn on rear). Thank god for penicillin. Thank Alexander Fleming.


Doug Natelson said...

Wow. Note to self: never fly Air India to London.... Hope you feel better soon!

sharad said...

good to hear that at least the rash and fever have disappeared.

Steve said...

Thanks for the good wishes from the folks here (and others on facebook etc who sent me good wishes too). I'm glad to say, I'm back to being 100% and now I'm fully occupied with... well... trying to figure out what on earth I'm supposed to be doing in this new job.