3 out of 5 hotmesstinis
If you're a tourist in Belfast and need a doctor, scroll to the bottom for some clutch advice.
The Necessary Background
The minute my plane touched down on my trip it started burning when I peed and I had to pee all the time, which was perfect for all of the long road trips we had planned. I hoped it was a UTI (urinary tract infection) because according to WebMD it was that or gonorrhea.
The big problem was this math equation that you probably learned in high school pre-calc: UTI + time = kidney infection.
I figured it was best to keep time out of the equation therefore I needed antibiotics ASAP.
I started at the pharmacy, but they couldn’t help me without a physical script so I doused my innards in cranberry juice and regrouped.
The next step was to figure out how to get antibiotics. I did a lot of searching. There were GPs and after-hours GPs. Since everyone there has a doctor it was hard to find where to go if you didn’t have a doctor. Emergency room? That seemed dramatic. Where was the “Urgent Care?” I googled until I found a prospect, which - crazy enough - was also a random building that I stopped in to pee stealthily the day before.
I waited until they opened at 9 a.m. while my family sat at the AirBnb waiting to start our day trip to Giant’s Causeway. I fakely told them to go without me but they stayed (thanks guys I really didn’t mean it when I said go ahead).
Stop One: Hopeful
I walked to “Bradbury Center” and had a conversation with a woman at a desk. What’s fun is explaining that your vag is burning to a stranger. She told me to come back at 5 PM, when their sexual and reproductive health clinic opened. It was 9 AM.
Um, no! I just waited for you to open so I’m not going to wait for you to close, I thought in a mean tone that I'm way too much of a coward to use in actual speech.
What I actually said was, “my problem isn’t sexual or reproductive. It’s an infection. I need antibiotics,” in a pleasant tone. I don’t even know if that’s accurate but I wanted to see a doctor so I tried to sound like I knew what I was talking about.
She sent me to a GP across the street who she advised could help me if I registered as a temporary resident. Three days is very temporary and that sounded like it would take a while, but I guess I was technically residing in Belfast - it was worth a shot.
Stop Two: Losing Hope
Literally right across the street was the GPs office. I walked inside and - once again - explained that I’m a foreigner, I needed antibiotics, when I peed the gates of hell open in my urethra, etc.
The lady at the counter shook her head. She said “right up the street is a place that is much bigger. We have just one GP here and you’ll be waiting all day.”
I looked around - there was nobody else there.
"I don't like this lady," I thought to myself. (I didn't like anyone that day.)
Stop Three: So Much Rejection, It Was Reaching Middle School Levels
My tour de “tell everyone in Belfast that this vag is on fire” continued. I walked up the street about ten minutes and found the my next stop - Dunluce Health Centre. I entered and they didn’t have a receptionist at reception, so I rang a bell. A young man in scrubs walked out and I - once again - explained that it was burning when I peed and, as one might expect, I’d like that to stop.
He told me that there were GPs on the second and third floors, so that I could try any of them.
I was getting reallllll frustrated and I didn’t want to have to explain my business to yet another stranger, but I had the determination of a Season 4 Walking Dead character to find some damn antibiotics.
Stop Four: Again
On floor two, it happened again. I told the receptionist about my boiling miso soup fire and she sent me up to floor three.
I was being forwarded faster than a grandma chain email with subject line “FWD:FWD: Jesus’s love”.
Stop Five: Finding Drugs in a Hopeful Place
I walked one floor up and suddenly I was in the land of misfit toys. There were people pouring into this office it was so busy.
I knew in my heart this is where they would accept me.
But also probably not.
I walked up to the desk after waiting in a quick line of about five people. Finally, it was my turn so I walked up and the receptionist ready to recount the story that I’d had a lot of practice telling that morning.
But when I approached, she wasn’t looking up -- she continued not acknowledge me for minutes, shuffling papers and such. I understand making a note really quick of something so you don’t forget, but I cannot emphasize what a long, uncomfortable amount of time was passing to the point where I wondered if I literally had died and come back as an invisible ghost and this Tour de UTI was my personal manifestation of hell.
Finally, I said “Are you available to help me orrr….?” She looked up finally and was like “oh yeah, OK.”
I'm not dead then - that's a good start.
I explained one last time - feeling at this point like there was no room at the inn (casually comparing myself to biblical figures again - this blog got away from me).
I could feel that there was 100% chance of tears if she sent me somewhere else. I decided to make my description more graphic so it seemed more urgent. I explained that my urine was boiling in my bladder and when it was exiting my body every five minutes via a hole in my "lady," it felt like a cat was clawing its way out. (I actually didn't say it like that, that description was more for you guys.)
She said they had no appointments that day.
And this is where the story ends. I got a kidney infection.
When she said they had no appointments and I said “please - I only need like one minute” and she laughed (but not in a genuine way - it was because she hated me).
She said “I don’t have one minute!” (No judgment - girlfriend was having a stressful day - I could tell by how many people were in her office.)
I just waited there - I tried to look sadder. I made my eyes all big. I made myself small. But inside I wanted to scream “GIVE ME THE JUICE!”
Finally, she squeezed me in for an 11:10 a.m. appointment.
The last thing she did was give me a cup. “A lovely souvenir,” I thought.
Refrigerated Purse Urine
So sorry that I forgot to take a photo for this headline.
I ran home and I peed in my souvenir cup but I didn’t have a discrete urine sample-sized bag (another classic example of my underpacking) so I put the pee and its respective cup in my purse and put the whole bundle in the fridge before it was time to head back.
I asked my mom to come with me so that if I got a $12,000 bill I could be like “put that on my tab, Mama.” because my credit limit is not that high y’all.
I checked in for my appointment exactly on time and waited for a big sign to flash my name, signaling I could walk back and visit with the doctor (yes, they have a giant sign to call people back - not conducive to my HIPPA training but I’m relieved it was just my name and not my symptoms).
My mom asked if I wanted her to come back to see the doctor with me. I imagined the doctor asking me all about my sexual history and thought, “I can’t have my mom knowing how awesome I am today.”
I gave a hard pass to her offer and 50 minutes later, it happened. They called me back.
I walked into the office of a young doctor. I told her “I’d like one broad spectrum antibiotic please.” In Belfast getting antibiotics is a lot like placing an order at McDonalds only you pay with urine you brought from home.
She took the sample. While she was gone I sat there thinking “I’m sure it’s not gonorrhea, but how will I most effectively destroy my boyfriend’s future to get revenge if, in fact, it is.”
One minute later she came back in. She said “Congratulations, it’s a raging UTI.”
(I mean, she didn’t phrase it like that, but congratulations were in order.)
That Beautiful, Beautiful script
The doctor gave me a paper script per pharmacy requirements. I walked down to a pharmacy within the building and went from purse urine to pills-in-hand in a matter of minutes.
While I was waiting for my prescription a man there waiting for his prescription was called his name was “Muhammad Ali.” Just a fun tid-bit for you readers because you earned it you sexy bastards.
Also, I didn’t pay for anything! Thanks UK healthcare system! (Also if you see this don’t retroactively bill me - no take backs.)
Hot Mess Lessons
- If you need a doctor's visit in Belfast, Dunluce Health Clinic (3rd floor) is the place I went that helped.
- Nobody wants to deal with your minor medical issue in Belfast.
- Stand your ground a little bit. The Northern Irish are nice but they don’t have time for your shit so if they say no to you, push back a bit. They want to make sure you’re not a lil’ bitch before they help you (or I don't know maybe not). #Culture
- Don’t get a UTI as you’re leaving for a long trip.
- If you do get sick as a foreign national traveling in Northern Ireland, nobody will know how to charge you for anything and there lies the silver lining.