I’ve always had pretty pathetic stories to go along with injuries. Example: in middle school I broke my nose by colliding backstage during a play with the state wrestling champion. I bounced off of him and my nose swelled up so quickly it didn’t even bleed. I remember looking down constantly because I couldn’t believe that it wasn’t protruding off of my face like a balloon. Another example: while the people in my office were shredding their ACL through stories of bombing down a double-black-diamond run on a snowboard, I tore mine by jumping off a swing. Yep, that’s the kind of injuries I get.
This is no different, sadly. I was walking home from a night out in Barcelona, stepped wrong and rolled my ankle, went down in an unceremonious heap (into a puddle of nasty water, no less). I got up, limped for a while, flagged a taxi, and pretty soon collapsed in my bed back at the hostel.
The morning revealed a massively swollen ankle, but of greater concern was the tender and swollen outside / top of my foot. I limped to the pharmacy nearby to buy a compression bandage / wrap thingy, then limped around the hostel and kept my foot elevated all day before finally admitting that something was more wrong than normal (I’ve rolled my ankle plenty of times, not sure why I’m so prone to this).
The people from the hostel called me a taxi and I limped my way into the hospital. Now, having a language barrier is one thing when you are attempting to order, say, some fish and a jar of sangria. It’s another thing entirely when you are trying to explain why you need medical attention.
“Tal vez me rompi el pie” (maybe I broke my foot)
“Como? Que ha pasado?” (how? what happened?)
“err…” <make twisting motion, pantomiming rolling ankle> “torcido… el… errr…” <point to ankle>
“Ah, si. blargetty blarg blarg blaaaaagh?”
“uh. Mas descpacio por favor?” (more slowly please?)
“Neccessito un medico?” (you need a doctor?)
“si, por favor”
“I, er, no comprendo…”
“el pasaporte? Nombre? Licencia?” (passport? Name? License?)
“ah, si, claro. Estoy estadounidense…” (ah yes, of course. I’m from the US…)
I’ll spare you the rest of the details; you get the picture. Now repeat with every person you come in contact with (admitting nurse, orderly, x-ray technician, finally doctor (who spoke decent English, luckily). After the doctor explained that I had a fracture and I would have to have a cast made, she disappeared and a nurse who didn’t speak one bit of English put my foot in a cast and handed me papers explaining (in Spanish) what I should be doing. We went back and forth on each line miming what it meant (keep your leg elevated. No weight bearing on it. Move your toes and leg often. Come back if your toes turn blue. etc).
The cast set properly and they wheeled me out to a taxi. I asked about crutches but the nurse just mimed hopping around and said “Manana, a la farmacia, usted puede conseguir muletas” (tomorrow at the pharmacy you can get crutches).
Things I’ve learned so far:
- Walking in a fully immobilizing cast is quite hard.
- Hopping in flip-flops is tricky, I keep nearly kicking it off when hopping, making for much adjusting before the next hop.
- Jeans don’t fit well over a cast. I guess I’m all shorts now. I have 3 pairs, I think they will get ripe quickly.
- Muletas (crutches)
- Hinchazon (swelling)
- No camine (don’t walk)
- eleve su pie (elevate your foot)
This morning my Aussie friend ventured out and obtained me crutches, so I’m now mobile at least. However, I have no information about when to do a follow-up visit (the doctor said something about a cast for 2-3 weeks, I assume I’ll need a different device after that?) Good thing the internet is full of information. And I got lots of time to read now.
No trip goes as planned. I’m going to see how I get along for the next day or two before deciding where I go next. I’ve always said that life is about having good stories to tell. I think I’ll probably get some good stories out of the next weeks / months.