Always know where the nearest emergency room is located [when abroad]

Last night was anything but fun. I got sick so fast that I did not even have time to think where to go or what to do once I had decided I needed help. Ironically, we live right across from a hospital, but when push came to shove not even that seemed to be much of a solution.

I’ll tell you what happened, if you promise to keep the following in mind: when moving to an unknown or foreign city, better make sure you know where the nearest emergency room is located.

Before I worry anyone, let me start off by saying that I am alrightI am feeling better, it was just a fright.
Knowing my dark sense of humor, I will probably be laughing about this in the not so far future. Either way, the whole episode reminded me of an important travel lesson I learned the hard way years ago and it has inspired me to write this post.

So what happened?

The honest truth is that I am not quite sure. Right after dinner, I started feeling a strange discomfort in my chest.  As with all the annoying or nagging pains in my body, I tried to ignore it at first.
In fact, I was happily working on a new blog post [about my road trips through the US] until the discomfort turned to a painful pressure and I had such a hard time breathing that I had to put my computer away and lay down on the bed.

I don’t know whether it was because of lying down, but the fact is that the chest pain only got worse and worse, and I found myself struggling to find a position in which the pain was somewhat bearable.

As the pain intensified, so did the ‘pressure’ I was feeling. It felt like someone had grabbed my organs – Lungs? Liver? Stomach? What else is there in your chest? – and trying desperately to wring the life out of them. I don’t easily panic, those of you who know me will agree that I have been through my fair share of bodily dramas and misfortunes, but by this time I was getting to the point of freaking out.

My lips started shaking, my feet had fallen asleep, I couldn’t catch my breath, and to make matters worse I had started to cry. [I know! Crying only ever makes things worse, I already learned that as a young kid suffering from heavy asthma attacks, yet it seems to be the first thing your body decides to do when faced with functionality failure.]

So I looked over to my boyfriend and mentioned to mumble: “This is not right.
I might have even added: “I think I need help,” – [Duh!] – before he took charge and encouraged me to get off the bed. We were going to the hospital. Right now. Right across the street.

Needless to say, I didn’t quite make it there immediately. It wouldn’t be a real Marly drama if that had been the end of it. 😉

After clumsily crawling off the bed, I went from feeling ice-cold to being insanely hot, and for a moment I don’t know what happened. I am missing a small piece of the film. The next thing I know, I am lying on the ground, I can’t move my legs, and I know that I am about to throw up.

I’ll spare you the details, but it wasn’t pretty.
By now, my boyfriend is trying to keep me conscious, while simultaneously holding my hair back and putting shoes on my feet. I was still incapable of moving, but I knew I had to do something. So as soon as I felt a little bit of life in my arms, I pushed myself off the ground, and onto my knees. I was going to make it outside. Fresh air will do me good.

Half leaning on my boyfriend, half stumbling over my own feet, I made it to a little bench out on the porch. I had just managed to ‘sit down’, as in: my knees had just waited long enough to give in again, when I immediately had to get ready for round II of the stomach emptying process.

When I stopped for a second, I took advantage of this little ‘breather’ to stumble down the stairs and somehow made it all the way across the street (this seemed like an eternity at the time), while literally hanging in my boyfriend’s arms. If you have ever tried to walk while both your legs are asleep, then you know what I am talking about. 😉

It must have been quite an interesting sight, dead weight body mumbling incomprehensible nonsense while being dragged towards what we thought was (one of) the entrance(s) to the Royal Melbourne Hospital. When we finally made it there, not only were the doors locked, but we also found out that the sign out front says “No emergency services”.

Park St Entrance to Royal Melbourne Hospital

Great. Just freaking great.
Luckily, I had slowly but certainly recovered some of my breathing capabilities, and so I decided to sit down on the little wooden bench in front of the closed hospital doors. Breath in, breath out. Don’t panic, the worst seems to be over.

The second wooden bench of the night
Closed hospital doors at the Park St entrance of the Royal Melbourne Hospital

As soon as I felt up for the challenge, we walked all around the gates of the hospital premises following the signs towards the reception. Once we got there, those doors happened to be open, but not a single soul to be found behind the counter or in any of the hallways!

What a progress we made. Not!
I sat down again, this time in a comfortable arm chair, and wondered what would have happened if things had been just a little bit worse.

After a while, we heard a click from the elevator and some nurses walked by… without saying a word!
Not even “Hello”, “Good night” or “Are you alright?” (!!)

Does it happen to be normal in Australia to find someone slouching in a chair of a hospital reception at night, trying to catch her breath, while staring at an empty counter?

To us, this whole situation seemed beyond strange. Luckily, however, I started to feel better after a while. I drank a sip of water from the fountain in the hallway, and we decided to walk back home.

What a night!!

As usual, a long story for a short – and this time, important! – message:
When moving to a new city, foreign or not, always make sure to know where the nearest emergency room is located.

I am happy I didn’t need their services this time, but I’ll be sure to check out whom and where I need to run to the next time I get into trouble!

Hospital sign as seen from across the road
What we thought the hospital sign said… Imagine we thought it was an emergency room. Picture taken from right across the road!


PS: I promise I’ll soon finish the post on US road trips… I just kinda got ‘hung up’ last night! 😉




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