A Christmas that had a profound impact on me: I found myself on the floor of the emergency room, having my backside rinsed.

It was simply a mug of hot mint tea – however, when it spilled onto my lap and seat, the inevitable consequence was the formation of massive blisters.
I find myself on a hospital bed, on all fours, as the doctor injects a needle into my buttock. It’s Christmas Eve 2013, and both the doctor and I had different plans. Yet here we are, facing each other in the Accident and Emergency department.
“Could you please close the curtain?” I ask, aware that the lower part of my body is exposed for all to see. However, nobody seems particularly interested in my situation, as they are preoccupied with their own holiday mishaps (“I punched my front door,” etc.). Nevertheless, I am determined to salvage some dignity. I feel like a living art exhibit on the fourth plinth of Trafalgar Square.
The incident, or what I prefer to refer to as such, occurred 24 hours earlier. It was a dark night in the Clacket Lane service station car park, situated on the M25 motorway. My father, who drove a work van frequently used on construction sites, had kindly offered to give me a lift from London to Brighton. The seats in his van were covered in plastic. After purchasing a coffee for him and a mint tea for myself, we returned to the van. As I took a seat, a searing pain shot through my lap. The paper cup of tea, which was filled to the brim with scorching-hot water that I estimated to be around 80 degrees Celsius, had spilled. Reacting to the pain, I jerked, causing more tea to spill. A pool of scalding water had formed between the plastic seat covers and my bottom. I let out a yelp, hastily opened the van door, and dashed to the service station’s restroom. There, I removed my tights and immersedin a sink filled with cool water. “Were you that desperate?” a woman in the toilet queue asked sarcastically.
After approximately five minutes, I convinced myself that I was fine, returned to the van, and resumed our journey to Brighton with my dad. It wasn’t until we reached the M23 motorway that I felt the welts starting to form. By the time we arrived at the pub to meet my friends, the blisters had grown even larger.
At some point after falling asleep that night, the blisters had transformed. They were unlike any blisters I had ever seen before, measuring over an inch in width, filled with liquid on a burn area that was roughly the size of a basketball. Consequently, on Christmas Eve, I found myself in the hospital, having my buttocks cleansed with a syringe and then bandaged, leaving me with a dressing that appeared uncannily similar to a diaper. “Try not to sit down,” the doctor advised. My dad, who had waited by my side at the hospital for approximately eight hours that day, then accompanied me home. Poor Dad.
On Christmas morning, I once again found myself on all fours, only this time, it was my mom tending to my buttocks. Being a healthcare professional, she insisted on taking care of the task – despite my protests that I could do it myself, until the realization sunk in that I absolutely could not. The dressings had to be changed daily until the new year. Poor Mom.
I didn’t need to be reminded not to sit down – the pain was excruciating. I attempted to watch TV while lying sideways or kneeling with a pillow for support. Determined to finally read Jane Eyre that year, I found solace in the novel. However, the truth is, all I truly wished for during Christmas was the ability to sit on my own bottom.
Since then, I have never purchased takeaway tea. I reached out to the coffee shop chain at the service station, informing them of the incident. In response, they sent me a £5 voucher as an apology – a voucher that could only be spent at Clacket Lane services. Reader, I chose not to use it.

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