Ok, so I’ve had a rough few days. I hurt my back on Friday night and have been in increasing pain since along with difficulty walking. Off work the last couple of days and loopy with pills. It’s got me thinking about the pros and particularly the cons of a summer camp experience in America. Here are the things that they don’t really talk about in the brochure that have been the things that I’ve not liked about my experience so far.
- Absolutely top of my list. One of the best things about staying in the infirmary the last few days has been that I’ve not got any more bug bites. Of course, I stuck my head out last night for a few hours and normal service was quickly resumed. Basically, I am unable to leave my cabin when it’s not raining if every single part of my body is not liberally doused in bug spray. Even then, a few will sneak through. I must have had at least a hundred bites in the four weeks I’ve been here, and in the most irritating of places. Scottish midges are bad enough, but they’ve never bitten the sole of my foot, the palm of my hand or my forehead. I’m going through hydrocortisone cream like water and there’s still three months of it to go. Bites aside, ticks are an ever present danger and I’ve heard some real horror stories. At least when a mosquito bites you the itch will make sure you know it’s there! Ants are like part of the family, crawling all over the cabins and spiders are so common I’m having to deal with my arachnaphobia on a daily basis.
- I would give anything for a bath right now. ANYTHING! I’ve been lucky in that my showers haven’t been bad (one cabin only has cold water) and all the cabins I’ve stayed in have had attached bathrooms. Even so, the facilities aren’t amazing and one ply toilet paper is never going to cheer me up. You get used to it after a while I guess, but I find myself visiting restrooms whenever we’re out somewhere just to remember what a real one is like. Sand gets absolutely everywhere too. A day after changing my sheets, my bed is covered in the stuff. It’ll be interesting to go back to my life of hygiene and antibacterial handgel and not sitting in the dirt after this summer.
- Mostly in relation to my work. This is my seventh visit to the US so I’m used to a lot of things, but sometimes it’s the little things that catch you out. It’s interesting seeing the different attitudes to children in comparison to the way I’ve worked with kids before. Basic manners are unfortunately not a common thing among the affluent youth of America. I spend far more time on basic discipline in activity lessons than I ever had before, and the youth theatres I’ve worked with are certainly by no means bastions of good behaviour. I also probably praise kids less than is expected. I guess I just have a higher baseline for these things, but praising for getting basic civility and the like correct and generally being good isn’t something that has crossed my radar so much. Normally, when working on a show, I like to give notes and make sure that I give a positive note to all the kids involved. Now, I don’t have time to do that because I’m so busy dealing with the behaviour issues during a rehearsal. Argh!
So I went to the doctor’s a couple of days ago and my was it an interesting experience. So much for being told I was going to experience “the best healthcare in the world” ha ha ha. 4 hours sitting in a waiting room isn’t really any sort of improvement on back home, I can assure you of that. The first time I was called through, they weren’t bothered about why I was there, just how I would be paying. Eventually, after a couple more hours I got to see a nurse who took my pulse, temperature and blood pressure. All of which are clearly essential when dealing with a back injury! Then I was left in a hellishly uncomfortable chair for my back and told the doctor would be in to see me in “a couple of minutes”. Maybe it’s another translation error but I didn’t think “a couple” was equal to over 50! So, almost an hour later, I’m finally seen by, not a doctor, but a nurse practitioner, whatever one of those is. An injection in the back and some pills, wham bam thank you mam. Also rather put off by how loudly nurses talk about patients in the corner. I probably wouldn’t want the whole building knowing about my UTI if I was the lady three rooms over from me. Luckily they only bitched about me because they thought I’d been discharged and then changed my mind about wanting a shot, rather than the person treating me forgetting, discharging and then coming back to give it. Aside from that, being hurt here sucks. I don’t understand my insurance – that alone is worth my taxes back home – you’re left to your own devices mostly and there isn’t a teddy bear to cuddle or a mum to dote on you.
But, you know one of the nicest things? After being out of commission and out of sight for a few days, so many people are coming up to me, telling me they’re sorry to hear I’m not well, asking if there’s anything they can do and generally being sympathetic. The staff here are really awesome and it really is one thing that makes a big difference.