Lynette Hinings-Marshall

Author and Travel Writer

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HOW I LOST MY BALANCE IN A CITY FAMOUS FOR ITS WORK/LIFE BALANCE

Posted by Lynette Hinings-Marshall on April 11, 2020 at 9:55 PM

Actually, I lost more than my balance; I lost the ability to walk.

But I had better start at the beginning; in April; in Copenhagen.

Check-in when you arrive my husband emailed and make yourself comfortable until I get home from the office.

Don’t be upset by the size of our hotel apartment, he warned— but I was upset. Our apartment was one small room.

Excuse my bluntness, I said to the hotel manager, but you surely can’t expect us to live for two months in a room so small I’d have to physically climb over my husband to get out of bed.

Forgive my tone, I am tired after flying today from Australia but if you can move us to an apartment with a separate living room and a proper kitchen I’ll take responsibility for the extra cost.

Good news, we’re moving to a larger apartment this evening, I announced to my husband.

Hello to you too, and how’d you manage that on your first day here?

I’m sure the company will pay.

Justifying it to them will presumably be my job then?

Kind of. I have to find a doctor in the morning for my bronchitis.

Lucky you’re a European Union (EU) citizen, you can be registered on the spot to see a doctor.

May I ask if you could make an appointment for me, I asked after she handed me details of my doctor on a scrap of paper.

Not necessary you can walk down there now and see if she can fit you in today.

On arrival I requested the antibiotic I take regularly for bronchitis but my doctor insisted I have an x-ray before she would give me the script, even though I protested I was too ill to wait for an x-ray.

Perhaps you can help me make an appointment for an x-ray as I don’t speak Danish, I asked the receptionist on my way out.

Quietly and icily she responded, we do not do that, take a taxi to the clinic.

Rasping and hacking at the door to the x-ray clinic I rattled the doorknob, until I noticed the small sign saying, ‘Lukket I en uge,’ and my phrasebook in my handbag helped with only the first word, ‘Closed.’

Struggling to hold back tears, I swivelled from side to side searching for somebody, anybody, to help me, as fear flooded through me, and then I started to cough uncontrollably, but that was nothing compared to how I felt when I returned the following week after they reopened, and they refused to see me without an appointment, so that I had to come back two days later, which meant that it was eleven days before I could take any antibiotics, by which time I was incredibly ill and had damaged my back from coughing harder every day and all night.

The vertebrae is pinching a nerve, my doctor announced after I hobbled into her surgery on a stick my husband had fashioned for me.

Unkempt and swaying from exhaustion I debated telling her that I had coughed so hard while waiting for the antibiotics I couldn’t stand, sit, or lie down without excruciating pain, and spent my nights kneeling on all fours, crying with alternating pain and frustration; but decided she wasn’t interested.

Visibly upset by my ordeal a new friend said you have a right to be angry, and I’m so sorry this has happened to you, but I’m not surprised. I’ve lived here for 38 years and when I speak Danish to a Dane they respond in English to remind me that I am not, and never will be one of them.

Why would you refuse me anti-biotics when you saw how sick I was and then not feel responsible for my back injury, I accused my doctor on my next visit, to which she replied, you Americans are so spoilt and think you don’t have to follow our rules.

Xanex and oxycodone provided only marginal relief along with twice-weekly private chiropractic treatments costing US$6000 for the next six months. It was almost a year before I could walk —balanced, and upright again.

You would’ve been better staying in Australia, my husband said on our first Danish Christmas. No I replied. I fell in love with this gentle country babies lie snuggled and safe inside carriages outside cafes while inside mothers socialize with friends.

Zealots Danes may be about government regulations, but I think they may be onto something. Their distinctive meaning for the mood of cosiness, conviviality and contentment with friends and family; or as they call it—hygge.

 

 

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