Who friggin stabs themselves on Christmas Day?

“Apparantly I do”, she answered as she typed her blog post with one hand, the other heavily wrapped in many layers of gauze. This was of course not at all the way she had expected the long awaited holiday reunion in London with her daughter to play out. It had started out wonderfully…a luxurious lie in..then surprise presents for her Spawn followed by a delicious homemade Carlton version of the English fry up. The rest of the days plans included a trip to the local pub for a pint or two, watching the Doctor Who Christmas special, then off to a friends for holiday drinks before ending the day with the 8:30 showing of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”. A damn fine day in anyones book…that went spectacularly tits up 10 minutes before “The Doctor” appeared on the screen. Irony?

They had had grand time at the pub! She had taken Hannah to “The Clock House”, where the bookclub she had joined met once a month, and her daughter was charmed (as she knew she would be) by the “secret” door in the bookcase upstairs that led to a small cozy room perfect for a meeting of bibliophiles. Downstairs they joined in the general merriment…she had a glass of mulled wine followed by a gin and tonic, and her beloved Spawn had a pint of local brew and then her own mulled wine as she had tasted her mums and liked it very much. The pub was warm and cozy, the patrons friendly and even the whinging of the bar staff for having to work on Christmas Day was tempered by the general air of festivity. There had been a moment when she had looked at her daughter, leaned forward to plant a kiss on her cheek, and sighed with absolute contentment. The Universe saw, smiled, and promptly positioned itself to drop a giant steaming deuce into the middle of the Carlton Christmas.

Outside “The Clock House” pub on Christmas Day, pre-incident. She is actually much shorter than me, I don’t know why she looks 6′ tall in this photo.

Yes. I stabbed myself in the hand on Christmas day while slicing an avocado. Note I said “stabbed”, not “sliced”. I was trying to remove the stone, and when it wouldn’t come out the safe way, in my brilliance I decided to stab the stone and wiggle it out. The knife slid over the top of the pit and into my hand between the index and middle finger. I have no idea what I said when it happened, you would have to ask Hannah. All I remember is feeling a sharp pain and noticing that that I could see the inside of my hand. And then it got messy.

Luckily I am not squeamish and immediately recalled my first aid training. I ran to the sink….rinsed the wound…screamed in agony (why does water hurt SO MUCH?)…then raised my hand above my head and put pressure on the wound. Naturally by this point Hannah had run into the kitchen to see WTF. She saw WTF, and asked what the number was for 911. I said 999…which we discovered is not dial-able from an American mobile. (at least we couldn’t figure it out) I remembered that there was a ‘house phone’, so she used that and got them on the line. After a brief rundown of the situation, they suggested that since I was conscious and had controlled the bleeding…I was probably fine to get to the hospital without needing an ambulance. Honestly, by that point I felt we had the situation under control…and not only did we not need an ambulance… I thought we could wait till Doctor Who was over before getting an Uber. (As it was Christmas Day, there was no public transportation option.) Luckily my daughter realized that that was an extraordinarily stupid idea and immediately booked us an Uber to Kings College Hospital. I have no memory of the ride.

We arrived at A&E (Accident and Emergency…not the American cable channel), and approached the only person we saw who looked like an employee…a man sitting behind a desk marked ‘reception’. After filling him in on the situation and giving him my name and address (for these purposes, I use my daughters home address) , he told us to take a seat and someone would be with us. We took seats in the waiting room, and in about 5 minutes a young woman who was wearing scrubs escorted us to the ‘triage’ area and wrapped my hand in gauze. The wound was no longer bleeding by this point, (I had kept my hand raised the entire time )and she informed us of an approximate one to two hour wait before being taken back. No different really than the average wait in an E.R in the states for a non-life threatening situation. So we settled back in our seats in the waiting room. By this point we were both relatively calm, and began to find humor in the situation. For about 40 minutes we were almost festive…until I had to use the ladies. I managed to get my trousers down easily enough using only one hand, but pulling them back up proved a challenge. I must mention that the zipper was broken on this particular pair of jeans, so I had sewn them shut. With a bit of wiggle I could get them on and off no problem. Using two hands that is…

This next bit is graphic-please skip to the paragraph titled “safe” if you are sensitive.

I had gotten them almost all the way up…but they were stuck a bit around my ample hips…and without thinking I instinctively lowered my injured arm to assist. Immediately blood began pouring from the wound. I assure you I am not exaggerating by using the word ‘pouring’. Within seconds there was a puddle on the floor. I raised my arm back up, but it didn’t stop. I grabbed hold of my trousers, wiggled and jived until I deemed myself decent enough, and exited the restroom. I walked toward Hannah with my arm raised and she said many, many swear words, as by this time the gauze was soaked and blood was beginning to run down my arm. I approached the triage nurse…showed her my bloody hand, and informed her that the restroom was in need of a bit of cleaning. I shit you not…her reply was ” Oh, yes? Right then…We’ll get someone on that”…and she strolled away…not the least bit concerned about the woman hemorrhaging in front of her. Fine then…I did what anyone would do in this situation…I sat back down in my seat in the waiting room. Of course, by now I was the center of attention…if not to the staff at least to the others in the waiting room. For some reason this embarrassed me…and I found myself apologizing…APOLOGIZING!!…for so rudely bleeding everywhere. And I was…bleeding everywhere. Hannah ran off to try to get someone to help, but meanwhile a woman who had been waiting with her husband/partner decided to take action. She acquired a roll of toilet paper from somewhere and began to wrap it around my hand. (I must mention…both Hannah and I got the impression that this woman had seen some shit. I mean hardcore shit…like a warzone or something like it. She had an unidentifiable foreign accent, and a tough as nails no-nonsense demeanor. She was awesome.) Unfortunately by this time, the bandages were soaked through and the toilet tissue was useless…so she just used it to wipe up the blood that was running in rivulets down my arm. It is so funny what the brain focuses on when it goes into shock…my main concern at this point was in not getting blood on my sweater, or green leather thrift store coat. I was also continually apologizing for the mess and all the drama. I do remember hearing the announcement over the intercom “We need clean-up in the A&E toilets.”  Hannah returned with the triage nurse, and she took my by the arm and began to lead me off…with me tossing back one final ‘I’m so sorry!’ over my shoulder. (I’m becoming a little bit too English, methinks)

I was led through the automatic double doors into the promised land.

YOU ARE NOW SAFE. For about 20 seconds, because if you scroll down I’ve added a few gruesome pictures. But don’t worry, you won’t see them accidentally…I’ve put some pics of our holiday adventures ‘pre-stabbing’ before you get to the gruesome ones…so you have to intentionally scroll way down to get to them, you pansy.

And here ends part 1 of the continuing drama- “A Silly Christmas Stabbing..my adventures with the NHS.” This will be a three part series. I apologize, but I’m typing with one hand because I had (spoiler alert!) surgery yesterday, and my bad hand is starting to be a bit throbby. This has literally taken me all day to type. Don’t worry though, it will be only a day or two at most between posts. (I’m very well aware of the fact that I owe you the rest of Florence…but get off my back! Man, you are such a nag. ) Hannah is in Scotland (I made her go on our planned excursion on the 27th so at least one of us could make use of our non- refundable train tickets) and will be back to London tomorrow. I’m in a nice hostel by Elephant and Castle.

I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, frivolity and yummy things to eat!!! I still have one mince pie left, so I am going to take my fussy little butt up to my bed here at the hostel and savour my last remaining pie. No sharesies…

 

Rebecca

Picking Hannah up at Gatwick!
Visiting the National Gallery
Celebratory pints at the ‘Sherlock Holmes’ pub
Our hostel the night of the 23rd
Outside “The Clock House” pub on Christmas Day
My Christmas cracker crown!

The photo above was taken 5 minutes before the stabbing. Sigh…

Ok, now it gets gross…

At the A&E…I had just begun re-bleeding, and Hannah was off trying to find someone. Within one minute, that entire bandage was red and soaked through.

My baby girl is on her way!

Mince Pies!! I may have a problem…

Hello everyone! It’s almost Christmas! And my daughter is on her way to the airport to join me here in London. I am so excited I almost can’t stand myself. It has been a little over six months since I have seen her…it is the longest we have ever been apart. So many times on this adventure I have had experiences that I wish I could have shared with her, and for the next two weeks I will finally have that opportunity.

Her first night here we will be staying in a hostel near Waterloo Station, a new one I’ve not stayed in before called “The Walrus”. I’m here tonight as well, as I didn’t want to have to drag my luggage to Gatwick with me. It has a totally different vibe from the Safestay in Kensington. “The Walrus” is actually the name of the bar downstairs, which is a very lively joint full of people of all ages drinking, socializing and playing Settlers of Cataan. (I my go down and see if I can join after I finish this)Tonight I am in an all female room with two bunk beds, but tomorrow things get ramped up a bit, and Hannah and I will be in a coed room with 11 bunks. At least these are only double bunks, unlike the Safestay where they were triple!

On Christmas Eve, we move to a flat in East Dulwich, the same one I pet sit in August. Carol is going out of town for a few days, so we are taking care of Ollie. I asked my Spawn what she wanted to do for Christmas Dinner and she was adamant that I cook instead of us going out. Sainsbury’s (think Publix) on Christmas Eve? What we do for our children…

That evening we are heading to Westminster Abbey to attend Midnight Mass. I did not know when I booked the tickets (free…won in a lottery) that the busses and Tube stop at midnight on Christmas. Oops.  And of course, at 5:45 on Christmas Day we will turn on BBC 1 to watch the Doctor Who Christmas special. And you can damn well be sure there will be an abundance of Mince pies as I have developed a wicked addiction to them.

On the 27th we are boarding a train at Kings Cross and heading to Scotland till the 31st…hitting Glasgow and Edinburgh. And then we are back in London and staying with my friends Clive and Haven till Hannah flies back to Orlando on the 7th. I am going to have to plan something amazingly wonderful to do after I drop her off at Gatwick otherwise I will just be a sad puddle of salty tears and mince pie crumbs.

I am almost finished the post I owe you detailing my last week in Florence.  There is quite a bit of information packed into it! I was hoping to finish it tonight but I’m too excited about my Spawn’s imminent arrival to be able to accomplish much more than this rambling post. By the way, I am feeling much better. British cough medicine- for “Chesty Coughs” did the trick, however it tasted like aviation fuel.

Sending you all much love from London and wishing a very Happy Hanukkah to all of my Jewish friends!

Rebecca

The South Bank
German Christmas Market by the Tate Modern
Dude on the #12 bus. Don’t let anyone tell you how to do you…rock on buddy.
Carolers in Waterloo Station
Somerset House Ice Skating rink

P.S. A few of you have asked what I might need for Christmas, and I thank you for your care and concern. Right now, the only thing I need is to be able to keep traveling and writing…so I added a small donation button to the page. Thank you all so much for the support you have given me this past six months, it has been a real treat being able to share my adventures with you! Here’s hoping we can continue to travel together well into the New Year!

It’s XXXMAS in London!

My book club buddies!

Ugh. I’m sick. I have the glurgh. Achy, snotty…with one of those wet coughs that sounds like a vacuum when you have accidentally sucked up a bunch of Lego’s.  I’m sitting in the National trying not to gross everyone out. Next to me are three men apparently working on a set design for an upcoming production. I haven’t sorted out what show yet…but it involves a giant peacock on hydraulics and a life sized Mercedes. They are moaning about the fact that they only have a budget of £26,000 for the set. I hate them.

Good news though! I have sorted out my next adventure- two months in Romania!  Mid January I will be flying to Bucharest…which…believe it or not is actually cheaper than taking the train from London to York.  The town I will be staying in is called ‘Bod’, and is in the part of Romania made famous by Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’. In fact, Bran Castle, (the only castle in Transylvania that actually fits Stoker’s description of Dracula’s lair) is only an hour away by car from my soon to be borrowed abode.

There is a great amount of irony to this, as I used to be terrified of vampires when I was a child…a situation I blame entirely upon my Aunt who used to keep her issues of the National Enquirer and Weekly World News laying about. Combine a precocious and overly imaginative child with the lurid and irresistible articles in your average shock tabloid…and you and up with a 7 year old who sleeps with a squirt bottle of holy water by the bed.

I am very much looking forward to my trip to Romania, in spite of the fact that I will have to deal with snow. Much snow. Heaps of snow. But in terms of getting a whack of writing done and getting the book sorted, its brilliant! And of course I am sure I will brave the elements at least a time or two to go exploring. Brasov, the seventh most populous city in Romania is only a short bus ride away. I’ve switched my Google Translate from Italian to Romanian so I will hopefully have a few useful phrases learned before I head over.

Before I got the glurgh….I spent much time traipsing about London and taking in all of the Christmas festivities. It seems as if each tourist area is home to a version of a “Christmas Market” selling all sorts of things from stuffed animals that you can heat up by putting in the microwave to winter headgear, ornaments, mulled wines and ciders… not to mention my all time new favorite- mince pies. I have eaten at least 10 of them so far. I have since been told that they are even better with a phat dollop of warm brandy butter on top. I will let you know.

I love all the little bits of a British Christmas…mince pies, Christmas pudding, Brussel sprouts, Christmas crackers (the kind that make a loud ‘pop” and contain a bad joke and a paper crown). And I have definitely been drinking more than my fair share of mulled wine.  I have added some pics below that I have taken on my traipsings and I’m sure I will be adding more. There is so much to see…and as soon as I “kick the glurgh” I will be back out there and soaking it up. And in only one week my daughter Hannah will be here to share the holidays with me!

With much love and holiday cheer,

Rebecca

P.S So, I decided to combine the traditional abbreviation for Christmas with the British propensity for ending messages with many kisses. Think it will catch on? 😉

 

St James Square
Regent Street
Opera Singer street performer in Covent Garden
The Ritz Carlton. I can stay here for free?
Trafalgar Square nativity scene
Trafalgar Square- the National Gallery
Levitating Santa in Trafalgar Square