On Tuesday, I was meant to go to Paris. On Monday night, I was all packed and everything was lovely. I was prepared to take the relaxing Eurostar trip from St Pancras International to Gare du Nord. But at around 11pm, I was visited by a horrendous evil that was to prevent me from travelling. Namely, exploding at both ends for six hours, aka acute gastroenteritis. So I ended up in hospital, got rehydrated via a drip, and babbled nonsense caused by some anti-nausea medication to my wonderful boyfriend who accompanied me the whole way (except for the bit where the doctor poked her finger into my bum, when I ordered him outside).
So I spent Tuesday sleeping it off and nibbling dry toast. I had to rebook my transport to Paris, and miss my first night’s accommodation, so now I get the fun part of doing the travel insurance admin. My first thought was “thank goodness for travel insurance”, but now that I consider it a bit more closely – the cost of the insurance is far more than the cost of this mishap. Granted, my insurance covers me till next March and there could be another incident before then, but the chances seem unlikely. I’ve been living away from home over two years now and it’s the first time this has happened. I didn’t have to pay anything for the medical treatment I received because the UK has a sterling public healthcare system (more on that later). Of course, travel insurance is *just in case*, and it could have been a whole lot worse. I suppose you never know what might happen and you do have peace of mind knowing it’s there.
I’d also like to give a massive plug to the NHS, Britain’s public health system. Like Medicare at home in Australia, you can get free healthcare, including GP, ambulance, hospital and any medications you got at the hospital. As an Australian citizen, we have a reciprocal arrangement whereby I can access public healthcare in the UK, and Brits can do the same in Oz. Until now, I’ve never seen it properly in action. I started by calling NHS Direct, the diagnostic helpline. They asked me a series of questions and dispatched an ambulance, which was there within 10 minutes. I was shown to a private room and seen to pretty quicksmart, despite my maladies being relatively minor (I mean, it was AWFUL but I hadn’t lost an eyeball or been shot or anything). I was given as much time as I needed before leaving. Everyone was lovely to me.
I made it to Paris only a day and a half late in the end, still in time for the first night of the three weeks’ accommodation I booked over AirBnb (I have a whole flat to myself for the same price as I would a dorm bed in a hostel in central Paris, it’s AMAZING). Now I just have to wrestle with my insurance company. Wish me luck.