For anybody who knows me personally, you will be well aware of how accident prone I am. Although my clumsiness has not before landed me in hospital, my silly mistake just last week did in fact leave me on the phone to 111 being advised to be checked over by the A & E department. Although I can’t say I found the situation particularly funny at the time, looking back it was such a ridiculous thing to happen that I can’t help but laugh, especially when looking at the photos I had taken of myself with dripping wet cotton wool balls pressed on my eyes and tear stained cheeks.
What was a sunny day at the beach with two of my closest friends resulted in me mistakenly smearing sun cream into my eyes and consequently having a nasty reaction which not only made my eyes particularly swollen and sore but also prevented me seeing virtually anything. I then experienced perhaps the most terrifying twenty minute bike ride of my life as you can imagine (I have been told many times that I should never have cycled in my state and should have called for a lift, but all I was focussed on was getting home) and was then shortly on the way to A&E to check for any permanent damage. I am fine, and well aware that there are much more serious injuries that can be suffered, but for that one evening I struggled to think of much else. It was only when I arrived at the hospital that I realised up until that point how much I had taken the NHS for granted.
Firstly, the 111 call was entirely free, where I received expert advice on what to do and where to go. I was then seated in a comfortable socially distanced waiting room (with surprisingly excellent Wi-Fi which made those two hours bearable) and then seen by a nurse and a doctor who provided me with multiple tests and treatment, all free of charge. It felt wrong, almost like they were doing me a favour and I felt guilty that I could only thank them verbally and not financially. Not only this, but I felt equally embarrassed that I was seeking treatment for something as trivial as an eye problem, when thousands around the world are suffering with the coronavirus, an illness so impactful the world has gone into lockdown.
If I could pinpoint one thing that this pandemic has made me appreciate on a wider scale, I would have to choose our National Health Service. It’s so easy to notice an illness or bug and automatically decide whether to visit the GP surgery, with neither financial loss nor the need to travel particularly far. I am certainly guilty of having taken this for granted, particularly when considering the medical situation in other countries around the world. Although not a frontline worker, my mum’s role in the NHS has been appreciated and commended by shops and businesses all over England, offering free and discounted services. Although it is understandable that this will not last indefinitely, this is a time to honour those who are caring for us, pandemic or not. This recognition, which perhaps we haven’t previously shown as much we should have done, has been incredibly valuable to me, and a lesson I hope to carry with me in the future.
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