Doing the Macarena

I am not one to seek conventional medical care lightly. If my home made herbal remedy has not worked in a year and a half I will meditate on which might be the appropriate Bach flower essence.  If another four months has gone by and I am still suffering, I will consider acupuncture or perhaps a Shamanic journey.  Caleb's recent wrist surgery where it had to be re-broken and set after a year and a half got me to wondering whether I would be clenching my teeth with every step over the next three months as my crushed toe bones pinched raw nerve endings.  I have been doing a lot of walking, maybe twelve miles a day.  So when I arrived in Seville on Sunday, my first order of business after dropping my filled-with-rocks knapsack off at the hostel, its merciless weight grinding my purple, crumbling toe, my first order of business was to find an urgent care facility. This turned out to be the emergency ward at the Hospital of the Virgen Macarena.


Don't let the photo fool you.  Those boot heels are hard.

Oddly, in retrospect, I am somewhat grateful to the drunk young man, stumbling backward in the thick festival crowd, his traditional caballero boot heels smashing both of my sandaled feet. Now I can speak with firsthand knowledge of the socialized medicine experience, and I am impressed.  The whole process took no longer than it would in the United States, about three hours, although the facility had about sixty patients through much of the time I was there.  First of course was the admission, which only took a matter of minutes, even for me who did not have a citizen medical card and knew very little Spanish. The second admission again was brief. It was an explanation of the injury.  This was where I impressed myself with my Spanish speaking skills.  It may be the first and last time as since then I seem to be at quite a loss in an ordinary conversation not dealing with festivals and drunkenness. Then I waited, along with the others before me, to be called in to a consulting room with two doctors. They took my relevant medical history, inquiring of course about allergies and medications. It is here that they would determine if additional testing was necessary.  In my case, it was not clear whether my toe was broken, so x-rays were ordered.  I watched a dancer evidently diagnosed with a sprained ankle sent directly to the salon for cures, but I waited to be called into the radiography room, which did not take long.  Then it was back to wait to be called to one of four consulting rooms.  I was called in to see the same doctor I saw at first (her colleague had evidently gone off shift and she had another, who she had already caught up to speed on my case).  They did not see a break.  They recommended staying off it for three days, doing the hot/cold thing, taking ibuprofen and wrapping it to the adjacent toe, which either they could do, or if I wished to leave, I could do it myself, no problem.  They gave me a prescription for a potent ibuprofen to pick up at any farmacia and also told me what I needed for the cold sores creeping down my face.  

I digress for a moment: naturally, traveling nonstop racks up some physical irritations:

Not surprisingly, my heels are dried and cracked. This three day respite will help.  I will lather my feet and experience Sevilla simply by eating and drinking it. 

I have an irritating eye infection, which could be from passing out with a ton of mascara on my lashes - the clubs don't start revving up until around midnight and sixty-thirty a.m. still sees revelers on the street, though not nearly as sharp-looking as when they started out. In fact, the early morning hours are not a pretty site in front of a discotech.  Not pretty at all I noted one morning on my way to the train station when I thought I would step out into empty streets but instead opened the hostel door to a veritable roar and crashing of bottles as drunk twenty-somethings huddled about on the sidewalk. So yes, I may well have fallen into a deep somber without carefully removing my eye make-up.  Those of you who have known my "au natural" style for many years will not recognize this habit at all. It was in Istanbul that I first started wanting to look as beautiful as the other women. Eye beauty is pretty big there as the face and hands are all a lot of women expose.  The ones who just wear head scarves have the gorgeous shades of lipstick too, so I couldn't resist buying a raspberry-watermelon shade which doesn't look that great against my skin tone, but gosh, it's a pretty color.  The desire to feel chic reached its peak in France, where every one looks fabulous.  There I had my hair cut fashionably, started walking very erect... and actually contemplating mascara.  By Barcelona, where the Spanish women all bat long, thick dark lashes, I had to buy it. 

Or the eyeinfection could have come from putting in my contacts at one of the many hostels that have only cold water coming from them, no soap, and sopping faucets that have been touched by the hands of at last forty travelers since the last disinfection, if there ever was one.

The cold sores: God knows.  I have not been in one hostel kitchen with a dishwasher.  Travelers are expected to wash their own dishes and don't have much of an incentive to hang around searching for dish soap and clean towels.  And again, the lack of hot water is pretty common, as it seems to be in many public bathrooms as in America, where it is most needed.  I am not complaining; I just presently feel like the tableau of a microbial feast.

Back to the hospital scene.  Waiting to be called was a bit difficult for me as I could not understand one word over the speaker system, not even the numbers of the consulting rooms and l am not bragging, but I can count to twenty in Spanish. I did not once make out my name and hung rather close to the fellow who injured his wrist playing soccer because he recognized my name and pointed me in the right direction.  Everyone kept an eye on each other's progress and helped them along the way any way they could. The mood was gentle, sympathetic, cooperative. There was not one self- important scene or someone trying to jump the line (as an obnoxious American man in the post office tried to do today, with a certain smugness along with loud complaints to his wife about the inefficiency of the system, which was in fact, quite efficient and people were behaving calmly and respectfully as in the hospital, as though we are all in this together and there is no need for impatience or one-upping; the American man will have his heart attack for his inability to recognize that the journey is the destination). Sitting in the waiting room with the others, as I could not pick out particular words, the conversations all melded together... and became like a lullaby with the comforting consonants rolling in and out like an ocean tide so that I almost fell into a deep! comforting sleep a couple times.

Gracias, Virgen Macarena for showing me the compassion humans can have for each other.