Thursday, September 23, 2010

A Pop, a Stop and a Wee Drop...

05-05-09 Tuesday

Right on time for our full Scottish breakfast, we are again greeted by FI (Good Morning, dearies! Oh! What did you do to your arm?), and are seated at a table in the dining room. This time the food is warm and we are able to eat our meal leisurely. After grabbing our jackets from our room, we journey outside to find that the left front tire (or tyre) of the Volvo has lost at least half the air it had the day before. Finding a petrol station in the middle of Perth seems a bit too daunting so early in the morning, so we head out again across the River Tay to find a more manageable station, and then to our morning’s destination – The Scottish Crannog Centre on the Loch Tay.

The centre is a recreation of one of the ancient crannogs which were found on the loch, and we spend the morning with two groups of school children on a field trip (I wish I had been able to go on trips like this when I was in school). After getting back to the car CG and I agree, however, that the visit probably was the least favorite of our journey thus far (if we had to choose) but still rather interesting.

On our way out of town we dine at the Killen Golf Club restaurant which overlooks the loch, and then are off again. The road seems to be narrower than the ones we have already travelled on, if that is possible, but I am nonplussed this time. I happily hide behind my tour notes as CG navigates the winding road, smiling because I had had a stroke of brilliance that morning and had taken an anti-anxiety pill. However, my reverie is suddenly broken with the POP-POP-POP in front of me and I look up to see the side mirror of the car striking a slatted-wooden fence as CG swerves back onto the pavement.

Surprisingly, we are both calm (well, I know why I am…) and CG tells me that he had jerked the car over to avoid another car that had wandered across the line coming towards him, and the left tire had caught the soft mud at the edge of the road.

The mirror is hanging out of its casing and the reflector is gone and CG quickly finds a pull-off to review the damage and have a much-needed cigarette. He is able to pop the mirror back into its casing but, other than the broken reflector, the car seems to be undamaged (whew).

Rob Roy MacGregor’s grave is off the main road in the wee town of Balquhidder but certainly worth the trip. It is sprinkling (again) as we exit the car and walk up the hill to the kirkyard where the MacGregor clan is interred, After taking a few pictures (yes, I had had the foresight to charge the camera battery overnight), we are in the car again as it starts to pour rain (again) and we backtrack down the same narrow road but turn off before we pass “the” spot and proceed back to Perth for our next stop.

Since it is on our way, at P’s suggestion, we stop in at “the Monty Python and the Holy Grail castle” i.e. Doune Castle, and park the car near the entrance. Deciding not to go in, I snap a few photos of the place where the infamous wooden bunny was lobbed, and, get back in the car. The fine Scottish mist is still dampening the roads as CG drives back towards Perth.

The Scone Palace (pronounced “Scoon”) is a beautiful two story red-brick building set in acres of woods and lawn very near Perth. I take a quick picture of some highland cattle for AS and we purchase our tickets for the tour inside. We are joined by two other couples (one we can tell is French) as we are guided around the opulent rooms.

I am again pleased to notice a painting in one expansive bedroom and the story behind it regarding another Lindsay in history - Sir John Lindsay. While a captain in the Royal Navy, he met and fell in love with an enslaved woman in the West Indies. They had a daughter together (Dido), and then Sir Lindsay brought Dido back to Scotland with him. However, in order to head off the apparent scandel, the Lord and Lady Mansfield brought her up alongside their niece as a companion.

As we are leaving one of the rooms, the tour guide asks where we are from. We tell her we are from the United States, and the Frenchman rudely bursts out “we owned you!” – we chuckle awkwardly while privately thinking the guy is a complete idiot (and fairly rude, to boot)!

After the tour ends, we end up outside next to what the site is actually known for – the Stone of Destiny – where the coronations of several Scottish kings took place until 1651 (Robert the Bruce was crowned here in 1306). Since the British spirited the original stone away, a copy of the stone sits austerely in front of the kirk (the original Stone of Destiny was recently returned and is now housed alongside the Scottish Crown Jewels in Edinburgh Castle).

We are looking forward to getting out of the dampness in the air and my arm is starting to hurt again so we decide to try to track down where the hospital is. It seems to be fairly easy to get turned around and lost in the traffic, even following the signs to the Perth Royal Infirmary, and we end up driving in circles before we turn back towards the hotel (perhaps it is because we realized we were in familiar territory?) to rest before we meet with P again at the pub on our last night in Perth.

We decide to go early to the Foundry so we so we can get a bite to eat before we meet P. Just as we finish up, he arrives and we grab seats at the bar again to have a few more drams of scotch/pints of beer. He again asks how my arm is and we tell him we are planning to head to the infirmary that evening but first wanted to say thank you. We have brought our small gifts (a book on making a “haggis” a pet authored by his surname, and a magnet from our home state) and we hand them to P as we hug and say goodbye.

doctor_who_lego_k9.jpgWe decide to flag a taxi (CG had considered walking but I quickly talked him out of it) and we travel up the hill completely away from where we had been looking earlier. After depositing us on the steps of the Emergency Room, the taxi driver takes off and we go in through the doors. The room is dim and there are only a few injured/sick patients waiting. I give my information to the woman behind a glass window and CG and I take a seat to watch TV.

Shortly, I am called into a private room where a nurse can ascertain my injuries and then I am seated again back in the waiting room. I am impressed at this time with the ease of socialized medicine and think we can still catch P back at the Foundry before calling it a night.

Keeping watch on both the TV and the digital readout of the wait time on another wall occupies my time for awhile as more people come in and take a seat. I soon notice that they are being called through the double doors before me and I start to get a bit antsy that I have been forgotten since the hour wait (pursuant to the digital screen) has now stretched to two.

Finally my name is called and I head back to a bed amongst the typical ER curtains. A nice blonde Scottish nurse tends to me and hands me a gown and, since the injury is to my elbow, I only have to shed my blouse. Eventually, a young female doctor from a different country enters and starts quizzing me (I must admit it is difficult to discern what she is saying through her accent). “Where did you do this?” “Dunnottar Castle” “Oh, you should stay away from that castle” “Yes, but we already went and it was our favorite” “Do you smoke?” “No” “Do you drink?” “A little” “Were you drunk when you fell?” “Um, no!” I think for a moment I heard her wrong and a jumble of thoughts run through my head. I am perplexed as to what difference it would make anyway (an injury is an injury), as well as the fact that it had happened yesterday morning, as she heads out through the curtain.

I am handed a white slip of paper and then directed to go down the hall. I gather up my things in my arm (s) and, gown strings flapping and blouse arm dragging the floor, I find the X-Ray room and ring the bell. My alert is answered and I take a seat on a row of chairs against a wall painted with Harry Potter characters (I notice Hedwig over my left shoulder). The X-ray technician calls me in after the woman who had been wheeled in while I was waiting was finished, and I was asked to stand and bend my arm (try to bend my arm) at odd angles in front of a screen, then once again while seated next to a gurney with my arm on a pillow.

Finally done, a yellow slip is placed between my thumb and the fingers of my right hand, and I am directed to go back to the ER to await the results. I am again seated in the same partition I had started in and hear the foreign doctor trying to find my X-Rays on the other side of the curtain.

After a bit, both she and the blonde nurse come in and tell me that the elbow is broken and will need to be set. However, they are concerned about what type of cast should be used since I will be travelling back to the States on Friday and the pressure would be painful and may hamper my circulation. After deciding that a half-cast is what is necessary, the doctor asks if I want to see my X-Rays.

Curious, I follow her to the screen outside the curtain and I notice an open book on the desk below it. The doctor points to a line on the X-Ray and then to an X-Ray of an elbow on the page in the book and says, “That’s not right. You need to get that fixed. That’s not right. See?” I take a seat again and they let CG back where I tell them what is going on. We overhear the doctor talking on the phone about my case and, after hanging up, she comes in to tell me that the orthopedic surgeon will call me in the morning and I am to go back to the hotel room after I get a cuff and collar.

After she leaves (I believe her shift is over as I see her pass by in street clothes), the very kind nurse comes in and puts a “cuff and collar” on me (i.e. a foam strip cut from a large roll, tied at the wrist with twist ties and an adhesive bandage), gives me a bottle of codeine (which I ended up not using), and offers to call a taxi for us. So, nearly three hours later, with hospital gown flapping below my jacket and outfitted with a foam cuff and collar, we arrive back at the hotel. I feel awkward as I get out of the taxi because I can see a large group of men at a table through the window in the pub and I make a quick getaway to our hall. What a day!

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