This is about Ireland, 1987....
Went there for an entire, glorious month, on a honeymoon no less, both of us sporting Irish roots and me having never traveled even the breadth of this continent much less across the "big pond."
But alas, I came down with bronchitis when we left. Intrepid traveler that I was determined to be, would not let it stand in my way....overnight delay due to plane troubles found me in JFK airport in NYC the next day with one or two bloody marys - spicy enough to clear my beleaguered sinuses and chest while waiting for the plane, looking at people from around the globe coming and going through the airport....
Landed in Dublin with a hell of a cough. Time to do something. Hospitals on strike, but one in a nearby village open and standing in for all who needed it. So, we took the double-decker bus to that same village, and queued in....
It had the mint-green wall color and wooden furniture of this country's public schools. Attached to the catholic church, the nurses all rushed around with their short habits flying behind them. All very surreal, except for the fact that in some way, to the best of their ability, EVERYONE was attended to who needed it.
It was an all day adventure. We were there for hours, but to no one's blame, and what the hell -- we were on vacation, with no immediate time constraints, I was sick but not critical; this could indeed be all a part of the total experience, and it was interesting to watch it all....
I was finally called and was on a curtained bed in a large ward with many others.
The young doctor came in, listened to my gurgle-ly chest and said yes, I had Bronchitis.
Was ready to prescribe an antibiotic. I said, well, I might be pregnant (late period).
And he said, without blinking, "well, let's get you a pregnancy test, then." Turned out
negative, so got the antibiotics. Went up to the window and asked what we owed....the
woman behind the counter stopped moving her pen, looked up at us and said, smiling, with
that most lyrical Irish accent, "you're not from here, are you?" In other words, the entire
day was free, or some small sliding scale fee...what was at that time a third world country
(before the merging of Europe and the capitalization of Ireland), at a moment of economic
uncertainty, still determined to provide education and health care to everyone who needed it,
to the best of their abilities. It was quite the experience. Humbling, actually, since I was
but a visitor, a foreigner. But treated as an equal in a time of need.....
submitted by pmacott