Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 5: The ER

There's something I've failed to mention. For the first few days, David's and my post-reunion bliss was frequently interrupted by a major pain in the ass. Literally.

Two days prior to my departure, I noticed something awry in my rear. I immediately had flashbacks of the operation I'd undergone a year ago in which a cyst was removed from my tailbone. This new anomaly was remarkably similar, only quite a bit lower, in a much more delicate and inconvenient area. Understandably, I began to freak out. I no longer had health insurance, as I was now unemployed, and I certainly wouldn't be covered in my new host country.

The cyst removal and the many months following will forever haunt me. The recovery process was brutal. And then there was the infection. The recovery from that, again, brutal. I couldn't bear to even think about going through that again. It was too late to do anything about it in America, so I tried my best to just push the concerns to the back of my mind. I did, after all, have equally captivating positive events to focus on.

On day one, I informed David of the dilemma. For the next couple days, he consistently assured me not to worry and promised that everything would get resolved soon. Yet, the issue remained a trending topic in our conversation. I was constantly stressing about either the painful recovery, or the enormous debt the ordeal would cause us, or both.

My anxiety didn't even dull until a particularly revealing conversation I had with my mother a couple days later. It dawned on her that the condition I was describing was strikingly similar to a hemorrhoid. I finally eased up a little knowing that it was possible that what I had was much easier to cure than I'd initially conceived.

David, clueless as to how to go about seeking medical advice for a foreigner, made several phone calls to various friends in the field. It was finally decided that I'd go to an emergency room in a public hospital. So on monday, David, Elena (David's friend who's in medical school), and I went to Hospital del Mar.

We approached the receptionist. David and Elena explained the situation: that I was a tourist (as I technically am) and had no insurance, and that I needed to see a doctor about what was likely a hemorrhoid. Somehow, the woman ended up asking the right questions. She asked us if I intended to stay in Spain and become a resident. David explained that we were already in the process of getting married. She responded with a miraculous solution. She set me up with partial social security. When my status was complete, we'd submit my paperwork to the hospital. The service I received on that day would be free. Hurray!

We were ushered into a little office, where again, Elena professionally relayed the facts. I'll be forever grateful for her putting away her studies for a day to come help and support me. The amount of friends who, without ever having met me before, show such concern and care for me, is not only testament to David's character, but also to the good nature of this culture.

Within five minutes, I was wearing a hospital bracelet and being told that my friends could not come with me. A not particularly friendly doctor directed me to a small, cramped waiting area. I sat there contemplating what was to come for over an hour. To say that I was uncomfortable would be the understatement of the year. I don't think I have ever felt so ill at ease in my life.

FInally, an attractive, young, female doctor came for me, botching the pronunciation of my name entirely. She guided me to a room and had me confirm what we'd already informed the first doctor. Her English was shaky. The majority of the rest of the already terrifying experience would be a true test of my underdeveloped Spanish proficiency.

I was laying on my side, pants down, partially covered with one of those paper blankets. Four or five doctors were huddled around me at all times. She told me she'd be administering anesthesia, and that after that I should feel no pain. Well I would hope not! I now know for certain that the anus and needles do not get along. Luckily, I'd had to pee since arriving to the ER, so at least there was that to distract me.

After what felt like hours, all but the original doctor left. I twisted my torso to see her as she explained the procedure they'd just done. Her hands were covered in blood. She dressed the wound, then I dressed myself, and in a daze I wondered back to the waiting room to wait for her to bring my prescriptions and instructions. I tried to pay attention, but failed to grasp every detail, knowing that most of the information was probably on the sheet of paper she handed me, and that David could decipher it later.

Elena and David were sitting on some steps outside the ER entrance. Elena pointed when she saw me. I can't imagine what it was like for David, sitting there waiting for so many hours, with no clue even as to what the definitive diagnosis had been. I explained in few words what had occurred. The three of us made our way along the beach to a restaurant for lunch. I was in a strange, apathetic mood for hours.

David went to the pharmacy for my prescriptions leaving Elena and I to converse. She is really nice, and put me more at ease. We had not yet eaten and it was already late in the afternoon, so the food did me some good as well.

Finally, David and I made our way home. We took it easy, obviously, for the rest of the evening. This huge problem that I'd anticipated being the worst of the worst was resolved. And, apart from the few euros David had spent on the medication, it hadn't cost us. David always lives up to his promises.

As I write this, over a week later, I can say that I've healed %100. I'm in awe at how accommodating Spain has been to me!


  1. Seriously... that had me laughing out loud :)

  2. Geeeeeeeeez. That is crazy!!! I am so glad that they fixed you though. It brought back flashbacks of bringing Renee to the yucky Italian hospital. Nervewracking.

    My favorite thing you've ever said:

    "I noticed something awry in my rear. " - Peter Brewster