Living in Spain, warts and all

Posts tagged ‘hospital’

Torn

I’m a little late, but not entirely missing!

I didn’t manage to write last weekend because I was busy trying to sneak in as many cuddles as possible with Oliver before flying back to Spain Sunday evening.

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So shoot me.

I was, if I’m honest, a touch ambivalent about returning to this peninsula. Not only because I was leaving behind my new grandson, but also for the reason that various sun worshippers here in Spain had been sending me boastful messages of temperatures in excess of 30ºC, which didn’t strike me as being conducive to a gentle return to normality after my month-long sojourn.

I had actually been enjoying the soft thrum of rainfall on the roof of my UK abode, in the same way that I was appreciating the easy greenery that it nurtures. Much as I love our river valley spot here in Spain, it is true to say that it is much of the year scorching and dry. The maintenance of any sort of garden becomes a daily chore of watering the delicate plants that are welcome, and the endless war against the hard-as-nails native triffids that can grow vigorously on a dry stone throughout a five-month drought. More than anything, I found I missed grass. While Ben and numerous other UK folk bemoan the need to mow the stuff weekly, it is a great source of disappointment to me that it is almost impossible to grow a lush emerald lawn here.

My place of residence in damp old England is a large static caravan. Cyclic, my life, much? This spacious and downright luxurious two-bed unit is, however, to the Sardine Tin (in which you may remember I spent some eighteen months of my life whilst building the house in Spain) as a prince is to a toad. It is far more civilised, and entirely without pain! It is situated in east Cheshire, alongside the Macclesfield canal that sees the regular passage of colourful narrowboats, walkers, dogs and ducks, and I have loved being there.

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So the thought of melting anew upon homecoming was almost enough to make me tear up my flight tickets and dig in as a permanent satellite of planet Oliver.

The only thing that tipped the balance and persuaded me to drag myself to the airport was my useless upper left appendage, which was continuing to reject the implanted metal bits to the point where it was beginning to resemble a stocking full of marbles.

Back I came obediently, then, as planned, to find that a) the weather in Spain is now every bit as cool and damp as was the UK, and b) I was anyway listed for the second operation on my arm on Wednesday.

I am going to speak now of the arm and its treatment for the very last time ever, and will henceforth summarily excommunicate anyone who mentions it to me again.

The operation on Wednesday morning was in the end far more difficult and traumatic than the original, since it’s obviously easier to insert than to remove. I was conscious throughout the four hour process, having been subjected first to the unconscionable torture inflicted upon me by the anaesthetist as he attempted to numb four major nerves by direct injection into various points on my shoulder and neck. Suffice it to say that success in this matter did not come easily, but when it did, his prize was convulsive, violent and fearsome movement of my arm. Unfortunately, said limb was not in such a position to allow me the satisfaction of accidentally punching him in the nuts, which action may have allowed him suitably painful empathy.

As far as my theatre experience is concerned, I will only say this: the drilling and slurping sounds to which I was subjected first time round paled into insignificance in comparison with the hammering and sawing that I suffered this time…

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I then spent two nights in hospital under observation because my elbow continued to bleed. As therefore did my ears. Rest and recuperation are definitely not a given luxury in a Spanish hospital.

My room-mate, Puri(ficación), was bed-bound following hip replacement surgery, so at least one member of her family stood guard to jump to her every need at all times. This is the norm – everyone, including nurses, looked aghast when John left my side to attend to the kennels, eat (see note below) or sleep. Puri’s night guard slept in a chair in the room, snored like a warthog, loved to watch TV for a solid seventeen hours a day, and objected to open windows. During the day, there were a minimum of six ever-changing visitors around Puri’s bed (and by necessity of space, also around mine), talking at elevated noise levels to combat the sound of the TV which was then turned up by the night guard to exceed the noise of the conversation, which was then raised to drown the TV (and so on and so on).  These visitors also managed between them to maintain full occupation of the loo to the extent that I could barely slip in myself…

My final word on this subject. Spanish hospitals are brilliant – they are spotlessly clean, efficient and well-staffed. There is no hesitation in carrying out necessary tests. Nurses on night duty respond quickly to a summons (I know this because Puri’s carer tested them to destruction). I couldn’t fault the treatment I received.

But the food? Ye gods. Light, easily digestible and healthy are all descriptives to avoid when it comes to hospital food in Spain. My last lunch, which is a pretty good example of the stuff presented generally, involved a plate piled with a random mixture of chick peas, chorizo, rabbit and lumps of luminous yellow potato, heavily laced with garlic. While this works well as a tapas dish in a restaurant, its post-operative effect on me was nothing short of vomit-inducing.

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John ate well in hospital, anyway.

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Shafted, Damaged and Shorn

The kennels are now open for business at last (YAY!!), although I still have some additional papers to submit.

One such piece of paper is a contract for cleaning. I actually have that in my grubby paw now, having exchanged it for four crisp 50€ notes. It was handed to me, along with a thick maintenance book, by a technician who at the same time placed four black mouse traps full of poison at strategic positions in the three barn zones that are not a part of the business, and in the kitchen, which is. Whether or nor I approve.

He also tells me that he has sprayed some sort of insecticide, although where, I didn’t witness.

Further, he has totally disinfected the loo. Which is brand new. And use of which I can count on one finger. He went in with a ghostbusters pack on his back, but no mask, and emerged a few minutes later instructing me to keep out for five minutes, for my own health.

No problem, I hear that from John all the time.

So – good money for extremely old rope? But at least it satisfies yet another requirement of the iltmo ayuntamiento, and leaves me just two itsy bitsy things more to sort: the plan of the fences, and the fianza (deposit). Until they up the ante again, of course.

I did hear mutterings about disabled access when the three wise men of the oficina técnica were here to inspect. They were debating the possibility of giving me grief about the step into our reception area. In this PC world, it wouldn’t surprise me at all – although I am, in all honesty, unsure quite how many people are going to drive their limited mobility vehicle into the campo with dog and wheelchair on board.

Then, of course, we would by extrapolation be asked to fill in all potholes in the camino so that the same wheelchairs can slalem down the camino to the river without upending (or at least, not until they reach the bottom).

I mentioned in passing earlier this year (Three deaths, a murder and a plethora of paper cuts) that I have a mangled thumb. This came about late October last as John and I were insulating and lining the roof of the kennels.

John was perched on a ladder guiding a sheet of plasterboard (2440 x 1220mm, if you’re interested) into place while I was stood below winding the lifter. This particular piece of machinery is one of those simple but indispensable tools without which the job would involve ten times the struggle, twenty times the sweat and a hundred times the swearing, and we were immensely grateful to have it onside.

The job required some fifty sheets of plasterboard in total. We were, typically, within striking distance of the end of it. Then, as I turned the winder for the final push to hold this particular board up to the rafters, the cable broke.

The whole platform, together with its load, came crashing down about my ears. My right hand, which had been on the winding handle, was thrown into the wheel, which spun violently in pace with the descending platform.

It took a mere two seconds, at the end of which I was bent double floundering in a sea of intense pain and nausea. John shouted at me. This, I have to say, is his usual reaction. As a firefighter, he is a qualified trauma technician and is the one who has to deal with some unspeakable injuries in the course of duty. But when it comes to any sort of damage to me, he keeps his distance and yells at me.

Always full of abject apologies after the event, he confesses that he cannot deal with injuries I might sustain and he shouts because he is scared.

That’s OK, then.

Anyhow, the thumb. I went to A&E for x-rays, but was informed that it was just tendonitis – that I had to take anti-inflammatories and wear a thumb support. I did this for several months, but nothing much seemed to be improving. My thumb is still swollen and distorted – I cannot straighten it, I cannot clench it, I cannot open jars, write, or pick anything up without dropping it again. It’s a mess, in a word.

So I then visited the GP, who sent me back to hospital to trauma, who then sent me for an MRI scan this past Tuesday.

Upon being called, I entered an antechamber, to be met by the radiologist who told me to strip off completely and don one of those see-through paper gowns with no back ties. I looked at him askance. I’ve heard bad jokes that start like this. Undress? For a poorly thumb?

Yes indeed. Unaccustomed as I am, I was unaware that my entire body would be thrust inside the huge torpedo of electromagnets and so needed to be, to all intents and purposes, naked. My hand was locked tight in a small box by my side – so small that I emerged with additional bruises, in case it wasn’t already uncomfortable enough. A pair of headphones were stuck unceremoniously on my head and I was instructed in no uncertain terms not to move. Not a muscle. Not a twitch nor a flutter.

No pressure, then. I’m lying there trying my damnedest not to breathe, but in fact I’m almost panting because I’m a tad claustrophobic and I am not enjoying the confines of the tube in the slightest. Then began the immense cacophony of noise.

Zip-zip-zip-zip-zip CRASH! rumblerumblerumble … ye gods, I can see the need now for the headphones. Twenty minutes of this (not long, he’d stated) was going to feel like an eternity.

But then, given my current inability to satisfy my need for nightly rest, I must have drifted into sleep.

Only to be startled back to the present by another sudden particularly loud and intrusive explosion of noise. Now I don’t know about you, but one of the parts most likely to move when I am rudely awoken is my hand. Then the headphones crackled into life. “Deborah!!” I heard his voice, tinny yet undeniably furious, “You must stay completely still. It’s ruined – we’ll have to run it again!”

So my twenty minutes stretched to forty-odd, and I lay there desperately trying to stay alert this time but unable even to pinch myself.

At least I fared a  little better than Marcos, though.

Marcos is our Podenco/Irish Wolfhound/bull mammoth/donkey cross, named for the saint on whose day he came to be mine four years ago. At the outset, he was a large and fluffy puppy. As he’s grown, he has become more and more hirsute, and his shaggy coat has become pretty disreputable with knots and snags and various embedded pieces of tree.

So I decided it was high time for a trim. I have in the past attempted to carry out this operation myself, but after the total ruination of several sets of John’s hair clippers, I have come to the conclusion that they are not man enough for this particular job, so I booked him into the veterinary clinic for professional grooming.

“A good trim,” quoth I, “To remove all the tangles and make him look tidier.”

OMG.

MARCOS BEFORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MARCOS AFTER

Pobrecito!

Thank the gods it’ll grow again …

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