expat disaster #274

Expat Disasters #274. Grandma vs. the Pool Drain

expat disasters; nanny's applesacks

It’s the summer, bringing along sunshine (sometimes), barbecues(weather permitting) bored children (by day 3) packing boxes (for serial expats) and/or visitors. Happily for us, there is no impending move to throw us into relocation frenzy; instead we are anticipating a steady stream of visitors, guests and adventures. Bliss.

Or at least it would be, if we weren’t so disaster prone. We are currently running at a 100% visitor : urgent care ratio; a record, even for us.

[Tweet “We are currently running at a 100% visitor-to-urgent care ratio; a record, even for us.”]


Which brings me to my mother’s visit, and the day she fell down the pool drain.


Having recently backpacked her way around Turkey, she has discovered the joy of traveling light. One of her strategies involves bringing limited pairs of underwear, which she washes nightly. Bearing in mind her undergarments are built for coverage and comfort rather than allure and aesthetics, there is considerable weight saving involved.

It also means that any hosts are treated to the daily lineup of apple sacks billowing in the afternoon breeze.

Sadly for all of us, the direct path between the back door and the washing line takes you along the edge of the pool. Now, my mother is terrified of the water and with four overly affectionate dogs lying in wait in the garden, our ears were constantly tuned for the loud splash.


Instead, we got a confusingly metallic clang.


In an attempt to steer clear of the pool, she had tottered directly across the lid of the pool drain and inexplicably, managed to lose one leg down it. Suffice to say, she has very thin skin and we will be needing to drain the pool before this summer’s aquatics. I could include photos, but it’s early and you need to enjoy your coffee.

expat disaster #274
It’s never official until you have the wristband to prove it..

With the benefit of hindsight, I have added 3 more Noble truths to the expat bible.

  1. Excellent local medical care is all well and good, but when someone’s bleeding copiously on the upholstery and hyperventilating, it really helps to know the most direct route.
  2. Most visitors take absolutely no notice of their health and travel insurance. Nor, for that matter, do expats – until you actually need medical care.
  3. When people come to stay, there is the unspoken assumption that you are their health care advocate.

So, if you don’t want my next post to include gruesome photos of my mother grinning merrily from her gurney (she had a very charming doctor.), listen carefully. You have three tasks..

  • Find out which is your best local Accident and Emergency / Urgent Care center. Plot the best route there (and by best, I mean smoothest, least traffic etc.) Now, go inside, and figure out how long the wait is, what paperwork you need, how much the copay is and who you need to be nice to. And if you are feeling reluctant and shy, just imagine how awkward it’s going to get when you have a bleeding senior in tow.
  • Brief all visitors about location, systems, emergency numbers, fees and paperwork required. If you are feeling particularly assertive (or if they have a reputation for calamity), ask where they keep their health insurance documents. That way, you are not left red-faced in the ER, or forced to rifle through dirty laundry to find that elusive 10 digit number that every form seems to require.
  • Keep the details of the emergency systems and services  next to the Wifi password. Funnily enough, no-one ever remembers the emergency briefing, but Wifi passwords? Off by heart.

[Tweet “Excellent local medical care is great, but when someone’s bleeding copiously on the upholstery, it helps to know the most direct route. #expat”]

3 thoughts on “Expat Disasters #274. Grandma vs. the Pool Drain”

  1. Oh no – poor you, and of course your Mum and ABSOLUTELY great to remind us to sort it all out ahead of impending disasters.

    We’ve been there with a whole uninsured family, my brothers – who he had neglected to insure. He got seriously ill and my Dad could not pack them off on a flight quick enough just in case it was contagious… Fortunately all ended happily BUT as a result I now vet medical insurance forms before letting guests in – well not quite but perhaps I should…..

  2. I had the pleasure of seeing the gruesome pictures. Thank God i stored up my dirty laundry and brought it back with me.

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