So we had an interesting couple of nights this last weekend. I think the story needs to be prefaced by stating that Erik had not been feeling well since the end of last week. A kind of swollen gland and aching body. With that in mind...
On Saturday night the two American-lovers-in-Ireland went out with Alyssa's housemates for the first time. One of her housemates, Enda, is to be moving to Australia for employment this week, so it was a send-off party. They left Alyssa's abode around 9ish with her other housemate, Dave, who was still there; Martin and Enda had already left. They went to a pub where the other two said they were but by the time the trio arrived they had left. They went out in search again and eventually found them at a pub, A Bunch of Grapes. There was a group there with the housemates and when Alyssa, Dave, and Erik got there everyone left to go to a different pub, pseudo-nightclub, called the Living Room. It was an okay place, very trendy with terrible music (thus the pseudo-nightclub), but the group was fun.
The funniest part about the night is everyone's reaction to Alyssa's surname--Hoppe (pronounced Hop-pee). A couple girls in the group thought it was hilarious, they didn't see she was with Erik and asked if her and Dave were going to go home together. Dave and Alyssa looked at eachother, laughed, and said 'no.' The girls laughed hysterically, saying, "Oh, that's too bad--because ye could go home 'Hoppe'!!! Hahaha" One of the girl's names was Emma, the name of Alyssa's bunny at home. Alyssa found the coincidence in this talk of her surname, Hoppe, by a girl with the same name of her bunny (bunnies 'hop'). Later, Erik was outside with Martin and Dave and the two girls smoking when the last name was brought up again, by the girls, laughing. They asked if it was a common last name; he said, "No, not very common, but not unusual. People certainly don't laugh about it. It's funny though because she has a bunny...isn't that fitting for Hoppe?" Martin laughed, smiling and making a little bunny face with his hands up near his face, "Oh I'm a little bunny, I'm so Hoppe!!! Hahaha!"
That is when it dawned on Erik why they found it so amusing...with their accents all the Irish people thought the last name was Happy. They were talking to Dave the next morning and again it was brought up. He asked how to spell it. H-o-p-p-e. "What? Really?" "Yeah, if it were Happy," Erik said with his long, slow Midwestern accent, "we would have said Happy!" And that was that...
So then it was Sunday. Alyssa and Erik were planning on going to a concert that night at the Roisin Dubh (pronounced Rohsheen Dove: Irish for the Black Rose), a pub that has a stage and showcases a lot of alternative-types of music. The band they were going to see is called the Crystal Antlers; they're from California and have been described as a soul-infused, psychadelic-blues rock. Damn, if that didn't sound like music they would be into, nothing would. They were told it was free but it was 5 quid. That's fine. The night was awesome. It must be stated that the Crystal Antlers did not have any soul or psychadelia and hardly any blues, just a lot of rock. Very Sonic Youth, At-the-Drive-In sounding: noisy. It wasn't bad, just not what they were expecting at all and had it not been for the second act they probably would have been disappointed with the entry fee. The set was 30 minutes maximum.
The opening act was this little man singing and whistling about 5 songs that all sounded the same about a girl who had left him...it was understandable why she left if he was so whiny all the time! The second guy, however, was awesome. His name was Robert Sarazin Blake (check him out online, seriously!!). He had this beautifully deep voice and this extremely fast, flamenco-like, style strum of his guitar. He had excellent skill of narration and was quite entertaining. He would stand up there and basically tell stories, morphing in and out of song. When he was playing he would just close his eyes and move his body and his hands and this beautiful music came out. 'We would listen to this all the time," they thought. Others didn't seem as fascinated; in fact, this one boy Erik knows from school, Daniel, said it sounded too much like Dylan. What? Dylan? Him? Obviously these Irish folk don't have an ear for folk. Because he sounded absolutely nothing like Dylan--I mean, really, he didn't. Not just saying that because we are huge Dylan fans and like folk in general; his voice and guitar were a completely different style. That's what was so great, however, was that this was a folk-singer living in post-Dylan world that actually had his own style; he was doing his own thing, not just the pre-disposed idea of folk that everyone thinks it should be (you know, Dylan). It was great. They bought two of his albums and talked to him for awhile. He is from Seattle and tours kind of all over, doing a short tour in Ireland and England and then heading back to the states. He said to write him an email and he'll come play at our colleges. They are definitely taking him up on this offer because he would fit right in at Ed's No Name Bar in Winona, MN.
They left right after the Crystal Antlers because Erik still wasn't feeling well. They went back to his house and went to sleep. Erik didn't sleep well at all, sweating oceans out of his body, feeling a thousand degrees, getting up to go to the bathroom all night. He decided to get checked out the next day. He usually doesn't get sick and could tell something was wrong. He went to the health services on campus, where the receptionist woman was nothing short of a bitch to him, while being nice to everyone else. Probably because he said, "Hi, I haven't made an appointment but I was wondering if I could see a doctor today." "No it's been busy all day with queues out the door. We're only accepting emergencies." After just seeing some boys come in claiming they had a sore throat and getting and appointment later that day he said, "Well, what's an emergency?" She looked annoyed by this question, but it wasn't meant to be smart-allecky. It was an honest question! Obviously those people weren't dying or anything, but apparently their sore throats were emergencies. He described the nature of his ailment and was given an appointment for later in the day. So he killed some time on campus. He wasn't expecting such a long wait and didn't bring a book or anything (the one time he doesn't... Murphy's Law is amidst). He went to the computer lab, actually looked up the results for the Superbowl (just to know whether he could give mom or dad crap at home), looked up forecasts for the Oscars (Slumdog Millionaire it looks like, unfortunately, but Mickey Rourke should get one for the Wrestler! Phenomenal film and phenomenal performance. Almost as phenemonal as Phenemenon and John Travolta [just kidding, way more phenomenal]), read some random news. Finally he had to go back to health services at 4:20.
He went back and met with the nurse. She took his temperature, it was high, about 100 F. Blood pressure was normal. He described his symptoms and she made an appointment for him to come back at 6 to meet with the doctor. So he killed some more time, pretty much doing the same thing. Only the Superbowl and Oscars were out of the way, and so was random news. So it was down to really random news...did you know that in Japan the new fad is categorizing personality type by blood type? It's true, even their politicians are using them in campaigns. "I'm an O, he's an AB, vote for me." Oh those Japanese and their Hello Kitties and Pokemon and Blood Types...
He finally went back to health services at 6ish and checked in. All of the sudden, however, a bunch of people were getting to see the doctor before him. The receptionist noticed and told one girl to stop, went back to the doctor, and finally his name was called (it wasn't in a rude manner to the girl, and she was understanding about it. She was only there for a mumps vaccination). He went back to the doctor, told her the symptoms, she examined him and a look of thorough concern crossed her face. She kept ending every sentence with Love. Like, "So what's the problem, love? This isn't good, love. Oh we need to get you to the hospital, love. Let me get a note of referral, love, so you don't have to pay when you get over there. Sit tight, love."
She went and got a letter printed out for him and handed it to him sealed, explaining directions to the hospital and to go there immediately, to the Emergency and Accidents area. Quite obviously Erik was a little concerned now. She hadn't detailed the problem too much for him; the details were all in this sealed note. He tried calling Alyssa to see if she could come with but she didn't answer. Her phone was forgotten at his house, which was locked and uninhabited at the moment...
He got to the hospital and with only a little difficulty (it is huge) found the A&E center. He checked in at the reception area handing the woman behind the glass the note. She opened it and he tried reading its contents; it was difficult as it was upside-down and behind glass. All he could make out was "patient needs urgent attention" "surgery" and "amarous this could be (insert huge medical term here)". Then, the woman behind the glass asked him what religion he was. He was unsure whether to go with struggling Christian, atheist, agnostic, or not-specific. Under the pressure though Atheist was all that came out. This was horrible, as, because of the puzzling words he found on the letter, if he died all he could think was, "Non-believer--you're going to Hell!!!" Then she asked the home address and phone number along with his next-of-kin's names. What the 'ell? he thought. Do they need to know this stuff for what exactly? So a priest can read me my last rites and an address to send my DC to? He was remaining calm but his head was frantically nervous. He still didn't really know what was wrong with him and now he is in a huge hospital being asked these questions. It was quite scary, and he again tried calling Alyssa. This was far too scary to be alone. The waiting area was packed with people, some crying, some coughing, some young parents with babies. Struggling to hold back tears he sent her a text to please meet him if she could.
His name was called very quickly and saw the triast nurse. Because of how busy the Irish hospitals are, there is a nurse that assesses patients' conditions to see how quickly they need attention. After seeing him, taking his temperature, and reading the note, she left to find a room for his immediate occupancy. As the nurse was gone Alyssa finally called. She couldn't wait around thinking about him any longer at her house, unable to do anything, and walked to his house to see if any of his housemates were home. Carly was luckily there and let Alyssa in. She got her phone from Erik's room and saw the missed calls, didn't bother looking at the texts, and called him immediately. It was perfect timing, as he was becoming quite scared and her voice lifted his spirits. She was just as scared, as the last time they had spoken he was only leaving to go to the campus. She had no idea anything that had happened in the meantime. She said she would be right over. Alyssa didn't know how to get to the hospital, though, and Carly walked with her, keeping her company. During this time, Erik was brought back to a room.
Alyssa finally arrived at the hospital and was looking everywhere for Erik. Everyone she asked assured her he was certainly in the waiting room if he had only just arrived. She knew he wasn't, however, because of what he told her while they were on the phone. Asserting herself, 'no, I know he is back here,' a doctor finally asked what the patient's name was. 'Erik Kline.' A passing nurse said, "Oh I heard that name; I think he is back here." She then saw Erik sitting alone in a room waiting to be seen by a second doctor. One had already seen him and was going to bring in his superior to check it out.
Alyssa came in and gave him a hug. He had been waiting in quite a dismal condition; being examined, blood being drawn, giving a urine test, sitting with a needle in his arm, still unsure what's going on. They waited together and just talked about nothing, which was all that needed to be talked about. Neitherwanted anything serious--they just wanted to occupy the time and keep eachother company and in good spirits. Finally the first doctor came back with his supervisor. Alyssa was asked to leave and Erik was examined again. The doctor told Erik that he didn't think this was as serious as previously thought. He thought it was only an infection of the gland. Even so, he said, if Erik were to experience these symptoms again he shouldn't wait "one minute" to seek attention, because the results could be very bad. The two doctors left and allowed Alyssa back in. The original doctor brought in some painkillers and antibiotics and told him to wait a little bit because they were calling a specialist in to come and confirm what they thought.
So they were brought out into the hall and waited. It was packed. Patients sitting on chairs along one wall while more patients were in bed-trolleys along the other wall . People everywhere. Eventually, after an hour or so, the specialist came. She brought him back to another room and everything sort of started all over. He described his symptoms and was examined (more thoroughly this time). She asked a little more questions--do you smoke (a little) do you drink (yes) anything else? (well...I do a lot of heroine). She looked immediately concerned, and upon seeing his smiling face, gave him a friendly tap on the arm, realizing his jocularity. After her exam, she came to the same conclusion, but wanted to be sure, so she asked if it was okay to call her colleague over to also examine him. He said of course that was okay, rather be safe than sorry.
So Alyssa came back in the room and the waited again together, killing time with idle talk. The other specialist came and they both examined Erik one more time. He was convinced of the same thing...so it was a pretty confident conclusion now. An infection. That's all. Erik was given some prescriptions, told he would be called for a follow-up, and the needle was finally taken out of his arm ("Wouldn't want you going home and shooting up," the doctor said with a smile). Albeit still sore, he left the hospital very relieved. Erik and Alyssa walked home in very lifted spirits singing Disney songs. Both were very happy with the results; although it was Erik's body, Alyssa seemed to be the most concerned. That's one of the many ways he knows he loves her--her honest and selfless concern for others (including him, but not limited to-).
Erik is on the mend now. He is taking his prescriptions regularly and is starting to feel better. He is still a little sore but everything is going to be okay. All the Irish talk about how horrible their health care system is. It's so packed and inefficient and busy. Erik and Alyssa got a first-hand account of it, an addition making their perspective of Ireland truer than what it would have been without this experience. And in reality, it's pretty good. Sure it is busy, but no one is dying as a result of an inability to pay for it. Everyone is taken care of, and beyon that, thoroughly taken care of. Including the on-campus doctor, Erik was seen by five doctors that night, including two specialists. By the second doctor they were pretty sure what was going on but wanted to be positively sure. So they kept having others look. Yes, it took longer, but they are happy it did, as they can be confident in the doctors' conclusion. The doctors were all very friendly, optimistic, and helpful. Despite the original fear the evening began with, each doctor slowly eased their minds; with each succeeding doctor, a little nerve was lifted. By the end of the night, they were walking home smiling, singing Disney songs!!!
A scary experience, surely, but an unforgettable one as well. We definitely wouldn't take it back.