Monday, October 19, 2009

My First Belgian E.R. Experience

Those who know me know I'm an accident looking for a place to happen.  For instance, just minutes before writing this I fell down the stairs for no apparent reason. But this post isn't about me falling down the stairs, it's about the accident that got me admitted to the hospital.

It all happened Thursday evening when I was doing my usual thing, preparing dinner.  It had been a crazy day so I resorted to Ravioli because it's easy.  I used my heaviest, biggest pot and filled it 3/4 full with water and put it on the stove to boil.  In the meantime I sipped a glass of wine and talked to Roel about the day.  When the Ravioli was done, I lifted the pot off the stove and like lots of people I know (including my Mother who taught me the trick in the first place)I  used the lid to hold the pasta back while I let off the water.  Unfortunately, the pot of boiling water didn't end up in the sink, it ended up cascading down the entire front of my body.

Yes, that was me dropping the pot to the ground and hopping from one side of the room to the other screaming "my pants, my pants" trying desperately to get my jeans off my body, taking several layers of boiled leg-skin off with it.  After 10 minutes of in-shower-crying I got out only to be hit square in the nervous system by a kind of pain I wasn't expecting.  I felt like my bones were on fire and my skin was melting off, ok, my skin was indeed melting off...

and now for a little comic relief:

through my tears, moans and groans I heard my 9 year old say to my 7 year old, "worst case scenario, she'll have to have plastic surgery, but that's a 1 in 1,000 chance".  I was then laughing, crying, moaning and groaning.

Roel's parents drove into the city from the burbs to mind the kids while Roel and I got over to the hospital.  It was a balmy 30 F. that night which was why I was less than excited when the nurse ordered me to take all my clothes back off and get into the cold shower for 10 more minutes.  Oh, p.s, there's no such thing as hospital gowns in Belgium, that includes gyno visits where you're expected to sit stark naked...with no gown.  Yeah, I know.  

Anyway, once out of the freezing shower and wrapped in some sort of towel thingy, I got a good view of my room.  I think the most impressive part of the view was the poster being held to the wall by the tip of a hypodermic needle...yeah, classy, the room was also littered with used hypodermic needles, ok, only one but still.  Aside from the lack of robe and the hypodermic needle situation, I have absolutely no complaints.

They informed me that my worst burns, which cover the upper half of my left leg, were second degree burns and that because they are water second degree burns, they are the most painful.  Then the Doctor so kindly dragged a needle up and down my burns to make sure I had no nerve damage, thanks Doc.  Then they gave me some morphine-type-stuff, slathered me in a thick layer of creme containing silver, bandaged me up and sent me home with a prescription for some heavy pain meds.

The next 48 hours were a drug-induced haze...but here I am on Monday with the ugliest leg you've ever seen...alive.  And because this happened in Belgium we won't owe a zillion dollars to the hospital because we're living in a socialist country with socialized medicine...hooray!  My visit to the E.R., medications, bandages etc. will cost us just about...hmmm...nothing!  This kind of socialized medicine comes in handy when you're planning on adding a third (and last) baby to the mix sometime in the not-too-far away future.  Don't get excited people, there's no bun in the oven yet.

Please be careful with boiling water.  It can be nasty stuff.


MaddoxHardcore said...

Isn't free healthcare lovely! I'm so sorry to hear you had to use it, but on the plus side, you can have as many lovely druggie wugs as you want. Also is it possible I might be able to impregnate you? That way you can have a maddox baby for free. Think it over...

yaffle said...

holy christ! that stinkin' ravioli, we were always suspicious of the pillowy stuff weren't we.

I want the technology to hug through the computer even more now, *sqqqqquuuuuuueeezzeee*

Steven said...

Having frequently peeled cold wet pants off my legs (one never thinks of water making things sticky, and does), I shudder at the thought of you trying to remove those scalding wet pants. Agony is bad in itself, but frenzied agony is worse by far.

"Worst case scenario, she'll have to have plastic surgery, but that's a 1 in 1,000 chance" OMG, that's classic. Careful, you might end up as a school project.

Squalor and humiliation are a small price to pay for state-funded health care, especially when opiates are involved. Nevertheless, it doesn't sound like this experience has endeared you to Eurpoean medicine in the least, you ungrateful thing.


I rather like the thought of you and Maddox conceiving, although Roel might not see it in the same rosey light.'s worth a back up...

zzzzzzane said...


it sure is nice that it didn't cost you a thing. but wowza, that sounds uber painful. you strong strong woman.
and! :)

Eddus said...

My dear! Good lord!

I'm sending you non-painful hugglettes.
Hope you're on the mend. And thinking of adding another baby to the clan?! That's wonderful!

ed xxxxxxxx

Ruthie said...

no way. ouch!!!!!!!!!!! and a few more !!!!!!!!!!!!! i miss you!

our national space said...

WOW! I'm feel so sorry for you. What an experience - at least you don't have to pay for it! But still, it's upsetting. What a nice blog entry though - so well written and so many fun, interesting and uplifting details. I hope you get a full recovery pronto!!