ER

The last time I ended up in A&E or ER it was the fault of Steven McMaster, a 'friend', that I was playing football with.  This time, readers, I would like to explain that the circumstances were mildly different, but were still involving Messer Steven McMaster and the awkward game of football; this time I ended up in a much worse condition even though the event much more innocuous.

I fell from the kerbside pavement backwards onto my right hand side, extending my right arm out and impacting with the concrete at a silly angle with Gravity once again being victorious.  I was instantly sore.  "Leave me, leave me a minute, and I'll get up" I said to Jonathan, who asked if I was okay.  I wasn't, but it didn't feel as bad as it actually was.  I convinced my self that the pain was from a sprain, and thought nothing more of it other than taking Advil and popping some ice on it.  The pain of the arm only took away from the pain of going and seeing Scream 4 at the cinema that night.

It wasn't until the weekend (the event taking place on the Wednesday) that I had managed to get any movement back into my arm with great difficulty.  Sleeping on my back instead of my side like normal was not only stopping me from getting to sleep, it was disrupting my loyal bed-sharer Connie who had to put up with chainsaw-esque snoring.  I decided to go to work on the Monday shielding the arm with every moment and movement, even deflecting to shaking a new colleague with my left hand (as is the Scouting way).

It was the Wednesday following the event that I finally gave in and mad my way to a practitioner of the Medical profession.  The delay was caused by my reticence to go to a Doctor that might touch my sore arm, but also that I had no idea how to even go about a hospital visit in this land of non-universal healthcare.  After poring over my insurance documents to check what I was covered for (everything, as it turned out, barring abortions and warfare induced injuries) and also how to make sure I didn't have to pay anything.  After chosing my location, I ended up in the waiting room of an Urgent Care Center.  Within 15 minutes of waiting I was already being seen to by a nurse who asked me my weight (I have no idea what it is on Earth but I think it's 94lbs on Mars, thanks Space Center Houston) and within an hour I am sitting being plaster up with the "possibility of an elbow fracture" after six X Rays had been taken.

I was referred to a proper bone and joint clinic to be checked out and the very next day I had my splint removed, examined, and told the bad news.
"Mr Shields, you've fractured your elbow, slightly, and if you gave me enough time I could possibly convince myself that you hadn't.  But, it looks likely seeing that bruise on your arm"
"So what you are saying is that I had a slight fracture that might not be one?"
"Yes, likely"
"Which option gives me the most points to obtain sympathy from my friends and family?"
"The fracture.  So yes, you have broken your elbow into five peices"
"Oh I see"

Anyway, they let me leave happily, content in the knowledge that my pain, which was not inconsiderable, was actually bad news, and I should've gone to see them a week ago instead of trying to grin and bear it.  But the good news was that it is such a minor fracture that all I get is some pain, lack of grip and strength in my right arm, and a MANLY BRUISE.

The most interesting thing about this whole event is that the healthcare system in the US is pretty good.  It's actually miles ahead of the UK (they had an Airline style computer checkin for the Doctors surgery and online 'appointment progress' system) but it comes at a price - one that I will eventually find out once the bills come in and the insurance company starts asking me questions.  So yes, the US healthcare system is strange, different, and pretty good, but only if you can afford it and have insurance.  If you don't have any of the above, you are shit out of luck, and that is why I love the NHS - no barrier to healthcare is the true right of a citizen in a developed country.