NEW YORK! NEW YORK! Bianca’s tips on NOT getting sick.

They say New York is the city that never sleeps. Regrettably for me I AM a person who LOVES to sleep (and slob). Bianca + NY = a whirlwind flurry of activities, sights, snoozes, Broadway Shows, long strolls, food and more snoozes. Apart from 1 day, where I spent an hour blogging in Central Park (which happens to be the highlight of my NY experience), the rest of the time I was too busy to put fingers to keyboard.

We have had a pretty tumultuous week full of extreme highs and lows which included, but is not limited to – vomiting, tantrums, extreme elation, fatigue, sore feet, chronic whinging, dance workshops (not me), singing workshops (also not me), shopping (me), and drinking (me).

Rather than blog day by day I’m going to chunk it up in to pieces and review and discuss different parts of our experience in NYC that I think my dedicated readers might find interesting or useful – all 5 of you.

The first item on the agenda is illness. Unluckily for us Isabelle, Mum and myself were taken out with a horrendous bug during our week in NYC. All at different times. Little Isabelle started off the trend and mum and I followed a few days after.

I am a germ Nazi. Usually I am on high alert because when travelling with Rohan he touches EVERYTHING he possibly can and then puts his grubby little fingers in his mouth, rubs his eyes or “scratches” his nose. Normally I will have a litre of hand sanitiser or wipes on hand to constantly shower him every few minutes. Not having Rohan with us may have made me drop the ball and I think I slipped up in regards to Isabelle’s sanitation. Never fear, I know exactly where I went wrong so you can all learn from my mistakes and will hopefully not suffer the same fate as I did while travelling. Isabelle HATES shoes (Ben’s genes) and whilst I was diligent to the extreme in making sure she didn’t touch handles, rails, doors – anything really, without hand washing straight after, I forgot to enforce hand washing rules after each time she took her shoes on and off. Essentially, she was touching the bottom of her shoes, which had traipsed all over NYC, and then rubbing her eyes, nose, mouth etc. It’s amazing that she ONLY ended up with a bout of gastro.

Dealing with a sick Isabelle was quite easy. I have a former extreme phobia of vomiting people. For your information a fear of vomiting is called emetophobia. I have a lot of former phobias: helminthophobia (fear of parasitic worms – especially those I can view in my offsprings butt whilst changing a nappy), pediculophobia (fear of lice of any kind – sea, head, on animals), textophobia (fear of polyester) and claustrophobia. Apart from the fear of polyester and small spaces, all other phobias have been able to be overcome via education.

I thoroughly educated myself on how to stay safe around vomiting children/people. I figured if Dr’s and nurses can avoid catching gastro on a daily basis then I should employ the same strategies as they do whenever one of my kids are sick. Actually, I probably take it a bit further. Dr’s and nurses don’t usually make patients wipe up their own vomit off the floor if they miss the loo. I do. And as soon as they leave the bathroom I don my gloves (plastic bags work a treat if you don’t have gloves on hand) arm myself with antibacterial wipes and wipe down anything and everything in the bathroom. Then I wash my hands for 15 seconds under hot soapy water, apply 2 different types of hand sanitiser (they are all only 99.9% effective so I hedge my bets) and then allow my hands to air dry.

My diligence to ensuring my own personal comfort did not pay off this time as I too was afflicted with Isabelle’s bug. It is no reflection on my amazingly thorough hygiene routine though. I know the very second I was exposed to her gastro bug and it happened because the layout of our accomodation required me to sleep with the germy little princess. During my slumber I accidentally rolled over to face her side of the bed even though I had gone to sleep with a strong resolve not to roll over in case she breathed on me. Breathing on me would have been a treat compared to what happened. SHE SNEEZED ON ME!!!! I awoke with a jolt to being peppered by droplets of gastro inflicted bodily fluids flying towards my face at 160km per hour (which is 100 miles/hour for my American reader). From that moment onwards I knew I was doomed. I tried to tell myself “it’s not a bug, it’s food poisoning. I should have never fed her mac’n’cheese” or “she’s just sick because she’s tired and run down”. But deep, deep down I knew the truth and there was nothing I could do to prevent it.

My bug came and went without too much drama. My mum however, was terribly afflicted. The night before we were due to fly to LA she came down with it. Right in the middle of the first act of Harry Potter the musical she had paid a fortune to see. What’s worse – it was her birthday!! Her sickness went on and on and on. I spent all night on the phone to her insurance company. Finding a Dr in the middle of the night in Times Square is next to impossible. The concierge at the hotel recommended that I take her to A&E if she needed medical attention.

There are no home call doctors, late night clinics (that I could find nearby) and the A&E from what I’ve heard is not a nice place to visit. Despite my morbid curiosity to compare an actual A&E with tv shows I’ve watched (eg Doogie Howser), my fear of germs outweighed the novelty/devastation of finding out that TV is all LIES. Plus, I could not have gotten mum to a hospital if I tried. She had pretty much moved into the bathroom.

I was on the phone with her insurance company forever and they wanted her to see a Dr. But when??? If I waited till clinics were open then we would miss our flight to LA. So I did the only thing I knew how to do. I told her she needed to stop spewing because there was no way I was leaving her in NYC and if she stayed, the kids would miss Disney Land. Nothing like a bit of guilt to encourage recovery. It worked!! She stopped vomiting and we managed to get her on the flight.

Once in LA we abandoned plans to go on a tour with our group and Uber-ed it to our hotel at Anaheim so mum could rest and see a Dr.

In America Pharmacy’s are not the same as pharmacy’s in Australia. You can pop in to one to see a Dr, buy your groceries, grab a few wafers of fentanyl, a 100 pack of pseudoephedrine, a six pack of beer and a 1 kg bag of hazelnut filled M&M’s. There is nothing they don’t sell. Actually there is something they don’t sell. Vegemite.

If you need to see a Dr in America I recommend googling “Urgent care” clinics. We saw a nurse practitioner at a CVS pharmacy and mum was able to get a doctors note for her insurance (she did miss Harry Potter after all), and a script for Zofran all while I was busy buying fruit and stuff to cook dinner.

Both mum and my insurance company require you to have a doctors certificate if you need to make a medical based claim. Going to an Urgent Care pharmacy seems to be the best way to do it.

In regards to NY, I would recommend you don’t get sick after 18:00. If there is after hours clinics they are certainly hard to find (and almost certainly full of more germs than you can poke a stick at) and doctors don’t do bulk bill house calls. Mums insurance company insisted there are some 24 hour doctors that do house calls in NY but that they cost thousands of dollars. I couldn’t seem to find info on any of them though. On top of that you need to pay the thousands of dollars upfront and then hope they approve your claim. It’s a bit of a risk.

Being in NYC made me realise how lucky we are to have the healthcare system we do. It is unfathomable to me that US citizens don’t have bulk billing house call doctors, which are all the rage in Aus right now. They will turn up at 2am to put a bandaid on a paper cut if that’s what you need. Not sure they’d be to happy about having to do it but do it they would.

I was on the Subway with an American friend (I made a friend!!! Yay me!!!) and we saw a man whose leg was swollen, purple and full of sores. He was crying and asking for money and everyone just ignored him. I was heartbroken. Why isn’t this man in hospital? If I had to hazard a guess I’d say he is less than a week away from becoming septic and dying or at the very least losing his leg. I’m not a doctor, but I do consider myself somewhat of a medical expert on account of all the Dr shows I’ve watched (House, Doogie Howser, first season of Greys Anatomy and A Country Practice) and also the amount of Google doctoring I do. I am intelligent enough to discern quackery from medical research whilst engaging with Dr Google and feel I have learned a lot. I would say that that poor man had untreated diabetes resulting in peripheral edema.

I can’t understand why in a first world country, healthcare is so restricted and reserved mainly for the wealthy. I am more than happy for my taxes to pay for healthcare for other people. In America the gap between the rich and poor is huge and very unsettling. Is it the rich people who are opposed to equitable healthcare? Or everyone? It is beyond my comprehension. Someone did mention something to me about Medicaid for the poor but there were plenty of homeless people I saw in NYC in need of medical treatment who were obviously not benefiting from Medicaid. I will look in to exactly what it is, when I get a second.

Anyway, I’ve deviated from my original post (what else is new???). In summing up Bianca’s tips for getting sick in NYC are as follows:

1. Don’t

2. If you do try to find an Urgent Care clinic somewhere between 10 – 18:00

3. Take a supply of Zofran (Ondansetron) WAFERS with you while you travel. I paid almost $200USD for a script of Zofran wafers today. The Zofran tablets are cheaper but useless because if you have gastro, you’ll just spew them back up.

4. Carry multiple bottles of antibacterial soap on you and ensure your children wash their hands after touching their shoes.

5. Keep your eyes averted on the Subway and whilst traipsing around. Frequent viewing of people in need of medical attention that they cannot get can impact negatively on your mental health and there is nothing you can do about it (short of buying them some sports drinks or food).

That’s all folks!! Will now begin reviewing all the other NYC things I did.

Thanks for reading!!

B xx