The first month of our trip was intended to be a shakedown ride, but it’s sort of devolved into a slowdown instead. We’re currently holed up in Braehead B&B, a quaint olde home just around the corner from Inverness Castle and not far from Raigmore Hospital where Karen is receiving daily treatment for the chemical burn she received as a result of using the chemo cream prescribed in Perth before our trip commenced. Neither of us anticipated that she would have such an adverse reaction to the cream, though subsequent googling suggests that the cream often has this effect on people. After trying to manage ourselves for a while we ended up at A&E in Raigmore Hospital last Sunday morning, and the care and medical assistance that Karen has received has been exceptional. All of the hospital staff – doctors, nurses, admin people, etc have been absolutely fantastic, and have provided one of the few rays of sunshine in an otherwise dim period.
Sunday morning Karen was discharged after being strapped up with a five-layered dressing across the burn, and was wearing a hospital gown to cover the dressing as her t-shirt wouldn’t fit over the bulky padding. In need of accommodation from Monday onwards and appreciating that we needed to relocate closer to the hospital than the Clansman Hotel, 10 miles or so back towards Loch Ness, we walked through the intermittent rain and hail back towards the town centre, looking for a B&B that could take us. Dressed like an escapee from an institution with her long hospital gown flowing around her ankles, Karen turned heads in the posh Kingsmill Hotel, where we had slipped in to so she could use their toilets. She attracted a lot of looks from guests and staff but no one dare question her as she wandered through the lobby, even having a brief rest in the waiting area.
We finally found a B&B that had a ‘vacancy’ sign on display, and someone at home to answer our questions. In retrospect, perhaps the hosts at other B&B’s were too afraid to answer our door knock. Moira certainly had a puzzled look on her face as Karen explained our situation, but when she figured out that Karen wasn’t an escapee she was only too helpful in making arrangements for us for the following week. Accommodation organised, we wandered around the corner and down the short hill into Inverness, stopping at a tapas bar for a late lunch. We caught a taxi back to the Clansman, and had an early evening.
Monday morning we packed up our gear and I reloaded the bike. After a quick breakfast Karen arranged a taxi to take her to Braehead, and I followed behind on the bike. Moira helped me get the bike into the backyard, safely hidden away from inquisitive eyes, and Karen and I caught another taxi to the A&E department at Raigmore Hospital. Another dressing change – a 30 minute challenge involving many dressing packs, bandages and rolls of adhesive tape, and another doctor (the very pleasant Dr Mike Wells – ex-Perth and all!) and we were sent home with instructions to return again on Tuesday morning.
Monday afternoon involved a lunch of cornish pasties and diet coke, a browse through WHSmith to get a couple of books to read (Uneasy Rider and The Tao of Travel), and then purchases for dinner – cheese, a long bread roll, a bottle of cheap Australian red wine, and some M&M’s. Dinner in our room was very enjoyable, but the rerun of ‘Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom’ was a bit long-winded, so it was another early night to bed, made somewhat more exciting when I fell through my bed (twice actually). Mattress placed securely on the floor I slept well that night.
Tuesday as a virtual repeat of Monday, though we now have an appointment to see a burns nurse tomorrow. Coincidentally – the burns nurse is the sister of the taxi driver who took us to hospital this morning (and through a complete fluke I also flagged down when looking for taxi to return to Braehead after our hospital visit today), and Moira from our B&B knows both the doctors at Raigmore that have seen Karen, so Inverness seems to be the place where everyone knows everyone – and it’s lovely.
We stopped in the Nero cafe for a coffee (me) and diet coke (Karen) and watched people walk past outside for a while. A lady came in with a dog (a cockerpoo she told us later when I asked – a cross between a cocker spaniel and a poodle) and she said that Inverness is only just starting to have dog-friendly shops. Archie, Moira’s seven-month old golden retriever is an absolute delight – he was playing with us at breakfast this morning, and again when we were chatting with Moira later in the morning. Gigi – her 12 year old golden retriever is happy just to lay on the floor near the doorway to the front room and raise an eyebrow when people walk past, but Archie follows us everywhere, waiting to be first into our room when we open the door, and jumping onto the bed for a pat when he comes in.
Anyway – that’s about enough from me for the moment. More medical appointments for Karen are scheduled for tomorrow and Thursday, and we’ve made arrangements to stay at Braehead for next week as well, just to give her injury a chance to heal a bit before we restart our ride. She’s just turned to page one of The Tao of Travel, so that’s my cue to do some reading of my own – ciao !!!