First days, and broken toes

The following a second posting resulting from some of the events of my time working out in the UAE.   It is not the normal fare for this blog however I thought I would share:


id-100414457Having arrived as a family in Abu Dhabi in the early hours of the morning, the first thing which we had to deal with was the two hour bus ride to our eventual home in Al Ain.     The four of us, being myself, my wife and our two children, were joined by a number of other families all coming to work with the same company as we boarded a bus, and I hasten to point out that it was a bus, and not a coach.

The conclusion to this journey was our arrival at what was to be our home for almost the next two months.    The Hilton hotel in Al Ain.    Checking in we met with our first significant problem of the trip being that only a double room had been booked for us however as I mentioned a moment ago we were four individuals.    This meant that a single hotel bedroom was a little on the small side.   Sadly given we had arrived on the weekend meant that there was no-one available from the company I had came to work with, who could resolve this issue with the hotel.

This eventually meant that we, and all of our luggage, were helped up to a single bedroom which if memory serves me correctly was on the fourth floor of the hotel.    The bell boy helped us get the luggage into the room as we supervised the children.   Limited in space he made the inappropriate decision to place one of the suitcases on a table.

It wasn’t long before, given the limited space, the table was bumped and the suitcase came crashing down, landing on my wife’s foot.    I can remember thinking to myself, “what a great start this is, only been in the country for less than 24hours and we already have an injury!”

Now at first we didn’t take the injury to be that serious, or at least I didn’t take it to be that serious.     As a result I thought walking it off would be the best course of action, thereby setting us all off in a mission to walk to the local mall.   Now sadly I had misjudged this as the local mall was not as local as I had thought, plus there was the added issue of the change in temperature as only hours earlier we had been in the winter of the UK whereas now we were in the winter of the Middle East, some 15 to 20 degrees warmer.   All of this did nothing to help the now throbbing foot injury which was visibly causing my wife to limp and grimace in pain.

Upon finally getting back to the hotel it was clear that medical attention was required however we knew little of our options in this regards.    As such we spoke to the Hiltons manager who was all to obliging although thinking back this may have been the result of concerns he held with regards potential liability or injury claims.    He pointed us in the direction of a local hospital which we duly got a taxi to transport us to.

Arriving at the hospital our next hurdle was the fact that hospitals here in the UAE expected you to have medical insurance from local companies.    The travel insurance we had did not appear to be something they had to deal with very often and as such the easiest option was to pay “privately” meaning that each doctor we say and each X-Ray, etc had to be independently paid for.   Thankfully at this point I had a reasonable level of cash with me given we had no long arrived in the UAE so this did not pose much of a problem.    Some hours later the diagnosis was provided, that my wife had a broken small toe.

Now the key messages from this are to make sure you know about accessing medical services, etc when going abroad; something I didn’t do.  The second message is to take injuries which occur to your wife seriously no matter how minor you think they are, or otherwise you might still be living to regret it as I do, some seven years later!      And thirdly, “walking it off” is never a good idea either!!

Photo: “Film X-ray Both Foot ( Front View )” by stockdevil from


Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the UK and Middle East.

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