When plans fail

This is a story of a desire to go to Paris, a string of circumstances that could be a Saturday Night Live skit plot, and Iowa nice classmates and professors. It’s a story of things not going according to my plans. To be specific: it’s the story of how I, by virtue of personal history and twenty-something stubbornness, found myself in a United Kingdom emergency room.

If you or your parents are suddenly pulling all the stops to cancel any desire to travel out of the country, please grab a cup of tea and keep reading what I have to say, because that is not at all what I want your reaction to be. I hope you’ll hear me out.

Last Friday morning, I woke up at 4:00am, locked up my room, and embarked with three other Simpson girls for what was supposed to be a weekend getaway to Paris. We took a bus into Hammersmith station and were then supposed to take the Underground over to the Eurostar train station. For some reason the line was closed, so we had a close few minutes running around trying to figure out what to do. It was at this point that I realized something about my stomach seemed very, very wrong, but I tried to chalk it up to stress. I had a rough night packing (long story), there was a cold going around on my floor, and I wasn’t about to cancel my trip to Paris and lose that money because ‘my tummy hurt’. I could keep going.

I kept going right until we tried to hail a cab, when I slowed down behind the other girls and then fell flat on the pavement. I’m guessing that when your classmate falls to the ground it’s a little unnerving, but the girls picked me up and tried to bring me back inside the station to figure out what our next steps were. I kept trying to insist that they take the cab to Eurostar and I can make my own way back to Roehampton, but when I passed out the second time they realized that A.) I had no idea what I was talking about, and B.) someone needed to call an ambulance. So with NHS on its way, we all learned that no matter how unconscious people think I might be, I can still recite the unlock code to my iPhone, and my parents and Simpson study abroad professor were immediately notified.

The rest of my morning was a long one, with my mood swinging between desperate and beyond fascinated (when I was conscious). I can tell you all medical personnel in the States should be required to call you ‘my love’, ‘love’, ‘darling’, etc. because it’s incredibly soothing to hear when they are trying to stick an IV in you. And I can tell you I am beyond thankful that my professor and his wife found me as fast as they did, and stayed with me, kept my parents updated, called a cab when I was released and fed me real food for lunch instead of the suddenly-unappetizing insta-soup packets I had waiting back at my flat. When you are so far away from Indianola and wired into a hospital bed, it’s the little things- stories, jokes, confirmation that your group finally did get on the train to Paris- that make a bad situation a good deal better.

When you live abroad, life doesn’t just pause. You don’t just stop dealing with things you’ve had to handle in the past. And sometimes new things come up- like severe stomach pain right before your ‘getaway vacation’. Yeah, it’s a bummer it happened, but nobody panicked. Everyone stayed really calm. Simpson staff was prepared to handle it, and my parents and I never felt like I was dealing with foreign healthcare alone. If anything after this experience, I feel much more confident about living out these next few months then I have before this weekend. I’ve faced my first big challenge, and I feel like I came out of it successful. I’m feeling much better, by the way, and looking into my next adventure- either trying Paris again or going to Edinburgh, Scotland. Adventures may not always go as planned, but Iowa nice support from Simpson classmates and faculty is just a phone call away!


When I’m not hooked into foreign emergency rooms (hint: it’s not that common), you can catch me tweeting or Instagramming about #Londonlife at @xkatehayden.