Trip to the doctor, everything for the most part is okay

I had my check up today as part of my continuing management of chronic illness.  All in all, everything is okay.  He said it’s fine that I went off my medicines, but likes that I am staying on a low dose of Sertraline.  He wants to do blood work on my inflammatory markers, and wants me to see my rheumatologist again then we can reconvene.  Nothing overly concerning, my health continues to hang in there (!!).  He was willing to do more to address the chronic pain but honestly, I’d rather live with some pain then take more meds and go through more tests.  🙂

My blood pressure was high when I arrived, so they re-checked it at the end of the appointment and it had calmed down.  PRobably the stress of the mornign commute and climbing the 3 floors (albiet slowly) to his office 😉

When the lady at the front desk asked if I’d traveled internationally, turns out she went to school at the University of Edinburgh. She said Edinburgh was her favorite city in Europe, and she’d traveled a lot through Europe.

Trip to the doctor, everything for the most part is okay

Edinburgh Plague Doctor story…

My parents attended a lecture on the history of Edinburgh (Scotland), and learned that (like many European cities) plague ravaged Edinburgh in the 16th and 17th centuries.  At one point, Edinburgh asked people to stay inside and to hang a sheet on the door if they had the plague, so the plague doctor would know to visit their house.  But the doctor died of (what else?) plague.  So the city advertised for a replacement plague doctor, offering a lot of money for anyone willing to accept the role.  One man did, and before stepping into homes designed a special leather suit with a breathing mask (a long beak stuffed with cotton with air holes at the end) to wear while treating patients.  The doctor survived, and eventuallly the plague abated.  But the city of Edinburgh was unable to pay, since they had expected the doctor to die of the plague so had not set money aside.  The doctor never did receive his money. 

Source: Lisa Didier, History of Edinburgh Scotland (lecture), 2016

Edinburgh Plague Doctor story…

Edinburgh (Scotland) Ghost Tour

We were riding on the shuttle boat with the guest lecturer when someone asked her what we she recommended seeing this day.  She said the ghost tour, since so many thousands and thousands of people had died by the plague and there were so many stories McKenzie’s tomb (Black Mausoleum).  So the first thing we did was sign up for a ghost tour that had been recommended to us.

The tour started out with a stroll through Old Town Edinburgh, where we heard some ghastly tales at various locations.  We learned that next to the old Parliament building right in old town there had been a graveyard, but it was relocated for a small parking lot, with one exception: John Knox, who had hated women and whose remains and small tombstone were left behind.

We learned that tortuer in Scotlannd was not only legal for longer than most other local companies, but encouraged and welcomed, and that 90,000 people died of the plague in Edinburgh.  That it was legal to keep one “lunatic” chained in your basement following a violent episode where a kitchen boy was murdered by a lunatic; that a clan of cannibals had lived just beyond Edinburgh and feasted on hapless travelers, and that witch hunting was a common (and largely unmonitoried) activity.  All this leads to misery and death.

We were led into the cellars of the city, which were created — and forgotten about — over the centuries due to building upward and the fates of time.  We were taken into a cellar beneath the city streets and accessed only by a former recording studio that had been built above the forgotten tomes and discovered only by accident.  In the early 19th centry, a canal was built through Edinburgh, which attracted many lowly-paid Irish immigrants, plus there was a lot of poverty in The Old Town after the wealthier classes were relocated to New Town.  The result was there were many impovershed and homeless people who took to living in the city’s understreets, leading to disease and dens of vice, which created a spooky underworld setting.

There were two interesting stories we found in the vaults: one is of a female ghost that is occassionally scene by the tours.  She often carries the scent of singed hair, and one time a guest who was not aware of the legend asked how much they paid the woman actress to lurk in the corner – except there was not an actress. 

But the most terrifying — and disturbing — room on our tour was the final cellar, where they’d once tortured and killed a family of immigrants accused of witchcraft.  In this room, they’d systematically tortured and killed a woman, her husband, their young son and their young daughter who did not speak the same language so could not even understand the questions their inquisitors asked them. The room has had several reports of ghosts, and my wife and daughter both felt an overwhelming flee instinct in that room, even before hearing the story.  For me, I continue to have goosebumps about that story, not over the rumored ghosts, but for that poor youjng family who were brutally murdered by unsupervised zealots.  Even though centuries have passed, I can still see their despair and suffering by the hands of brutes and honestly it breaks my heart.  I will never forget that story.

Finally, we had heard about the Black Mausoleum, but no mention was made of it by anyone and heard nthing of it in the actual city, so I conducted some research on it. According to an article in the Edinburgh news, the Black Mausoleum was uneventful until nearly 20 years ago, when a homeless man seeking shelter inadvertantly desecreated McKenzie’s grave as well as the bones of some plague victimes.  ALmost immediately, there were reports of poltergeists, not just in that particular tomb, but in the entire graveyard plus neighboring street.  There were reports of faintings, unseen fores pounding on people, and even the work of an exorcist a few years later had no effect.  After more than 500 separate complaints, the city closed and locked the grave yard, and no one is allowed in anymore.  

The ghosts are scary.  But honestly more scary than ghosts are actual human beings, and the few crazy human beings in authority who are allowed to torture and kill countless people.  Where do these people come from?  ANd how is it a few people can terrorize an entire population?  Humans and human nature is far scarier than supposed ghosts…


Edinburgh (Scotland) Ghost Tour

Edinburgh (Scotland) Day 1

We took a boat into the port, and I was surprised to see mountains (or tall hills) flanking the city.  In the sea behind us was a small island with a stucture built into its side.  We took a bus into the city, and stepped out into Old Town, near the Waverly train station.  The view was breathtaking.  Rows of ancient buildings rose out of the ground all around us, and were separated by a row of rail tracks.  The stone was old, gray but beautiful.  It almost seemed like it was a modern city built between the spires of a sprawling castle. Far beyond the city were tall, precipitous hills.

The fringe festibal – a big Scotish festival in the a month of festivials – was taking place, and the city was teeming with mostly young people.  We walked along ancient streets to The Doric Tavern, where we climbed to the second floor and partook an a fish-and-chips and cheeseburger lunch that were the tenderest and tastiest burger and fish I’ve ever tasted (I said a word of thanks to the fish and cattle that gave their lives for our meal).  We also asked the server for ale recommendations, and she suggested Coast to Coast and Ederburgh Castle ales, which were deliciious (I preferred the Coast to Coast, myself).  

The server was friendly.  She was from Paris originally, but moved to Edenburgh a few years ago and loves it.  She was not a big fan of Paris, but did also spend time in Southern France, which she liked.  She looked very French.

We walked thorugh a park filled with people enjoying the sunny day, and stepped inside the National Gallery, where there were many rooms of paintings for a suggested 5 dollar/pound/Euro donation.  I enjoyed the 16th century portaits and scenes, but especially loved the Monets and other impressionist paintings upstairs.  

It was a hot day, and more than one Scot mentioned how lucky we were to be experiencing Edinburgh in the sun, which is not so common.  We spent the remainder of the time we had strolling in and out of shops and cafes buefor returning to our Shuttle for the Tattoo reservations we have tonight.  We still have tonight and all day tomorrow!

PS Saw a few homeless people asking for money, something we have not seen a lot of in Northern Europe.  I wanted to give them something but was not sure if it was legal to do that here, did not have cash handy and didn’t have any food to give them 😦

Edinburgh (Scotland) Day 1