Safety First

An American visits the UK. She knows what to expect. She knows the climate, the humour, the political coalition mish-mash. She knows we drive on the wrong side of the road and our cars are tiny. She knows we like our beer warm, our chips are her fries, and that Mountain Dew is something we get in the Lake District or Scottish Highlands, but not in aluminium cans. She knows her pants are my knickers ,and that her fanny-pack is what we call a bum-bag. For an American she has a very British sense of humour, or maybe it’s a rugby-girl or gallows sense of humour. Either way, it works.

So, on arrival, after big over-due bone-crunching hugs and kisses, and exchanging the expected excitement of seeing each other (brain cancer does have a silver lining), I move on to serious business. Time for a safety briefing, to ensure that, in the event of (a) a fire, (b) lost keys, and (c) me having a seizure, then my American guest would know (a) how to get out of the flat, (b) how to get in the flat, and (c) how to be a responsible adult in the presence of me. I explain the need to call 999 and not 911 here, probably a call best made from my phone so that we could be located if she were unable to say our specific location.

“So what does a seizure look like?” she asks excitedly, her eyes twinkling and imagination in over- drive picturing me break-dancing naked. I explain that I only have mild ones, which basically feels like I’m chewing on a bag of nails – a persistent metallic taste. She looks less interested. However,I explain, if I get too tired, or raise my core temperature too much, my risk of more severe ones increases, they may be blank-zone-out ones, or “more active” seizures, I don’t know myself. Her eyes light up again. “Can I film it?” she says excitedly, with thoughts of YouTube in mind. I explain, dial 999 first.

Safety Briefing Vicky Galbraith March 2011

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