Student Blog: My week with the Chickenpox
'Chickenpox is widely known as a 'classic childhood disease' and having it at around the age of 20 is very rare. Sadly, that is what has happened to me.
On my return from a one month vacation in Indonesia, I became ill, which at first I thought was just a normal 'cold'. For 3 days in a row I would have fevers and headaches come and go during evenings, and eventually the next day my friend asked me about the spots that had appeared on my face which I did now know about. I thought he was joking at first, but as I looked into the mirror, I was surprised to see the number of spots covering my face. They weren't itchy at the time but I definitely felt the heat and the spots consequently became red. Skin allergy, I thought, knowing how UK has just entered spring and the high levels of pollen could have affected my sensitive skin. However, 2-3 hours later I got more confused as the spots turned into red blisters and had spread down to my chest and back. I decided to go home, and what a 'horror' journey! I tried to hide my face as people were looking weirdly. They must have thought I look like a 'pepperoni pizza'! :p
At home, I got frustrated by my condition and decided to call the "GP" (General Practitioner), my local doctor. In the UK, visiting a doctor is free though you may have to pay to fill out a prescription for any non-emergency medicines you need. My doctor's clinic is not far from home, just 2 minutes by car. But what an unlucky afternoon, the clinic has already closed when I called in! My hope at the time was an extra service that could be provided at times of 'emergency'. And in fact, the recorded phone message recommended me to call 'out-of-hours services' (outside office hours). Immediately I contacted the number I've noted, and was very glad to hear the voice of a person on the other side of the phone. She asked me for my personal details to make sure I was registered with a GP. She then told me that there will be a nurse to ask my condition and will then advise the best treatment. "Okay, thank you" I said and hung up. 5 minutes later the nurse called me, I told her how I felt and what I found on my skin, and after 10 minutes of consultation, the nurse told me to immediately go to the hospital that night. Sure enough, it seemed that the spots on my face and body had to be treated right away because they were getting more severe and stinging. My friend took me to the nearest hospital, which was unfortunately too small to have an emergency unit, so we tried their 'walk-in-centre' which was still receiving patients at 8.30 that night. We got out of the hospital around 9:30 PM, and I'm sure I was the last patient as they closed soon after we left.
It is very unlucky to have chickenpox, I cannot attend my classes and not allowed to go outdoors. Despite being ill, the UK's health service is reliable and fast enough to satisfy me as a patient. I was particularly impressed by the free cost of consultation, and the low price of drugs from the doctor. For now, I can only wait at home patiently until I feel better...
If you are planning to live and study in the UK, it is a good idea to register with your local GP when you arrive. This means that if you get ill, you will have quick and easy access to free healthcare.'
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