It is always good to have good news. I have good news. There is no detached retina in my left eye. I had taken a heavy knock on my left shoulder, jerking my head, and there were ‘things’ floating about in my left eye.
Ignoring the recommendations of family, the entreaties of my daughters, I held off any medical interference with my eye until Monday, after Spanish lesson. My Spanish homework was mostly correct. Bits that I had wrong were correct in Jeanie’s. Bits that she had wrong were correct in mine. I did go to see the doctor immediately after the Spanish lesson. I had prepared a ‘this is what is wrong’ note in Spanish, using Google Translate. I waited a long time in the surgery (no appointment) but eventually I was called in to see Doctor Salek Ali. He has one of the best and largest smiles I’ve ever seen on a man. He quickly scanned my complaints list, wrote out a new prescription and ordered me to report to the local hospital on the next (Tuesday) morning, Then, with his usual ‘Good homework’ - his smiling comment on my work with Google Translate - I was dismissed with a prescription for new diabetic glucose test strips, a new box of insulin ‘one time only’ injection needles and having got rid of the hazardous waste yellow box full of used needles and insulin pens.
That left me free to go to the airport to pick Jeanie up from her visit to the family in the East Midlands. With time to go to the farmacia in the village to pick up new test strips. I was surprised to be given four packets of different medicines, the routine ones I take each day, but no test strips. I asked the assistant (they all have reasonable English), ‘What about test strips?’ ‘Not due.’ So I have no idea what my blood sugar is. Nor will I until test strips are due on 5th December. Doctor Salek clearly thought he’d prescribed them for me but I won’t go back and pester him again.
So it grew close to the time when I needed to drive to the airport to pick Jeanie up. Greatly daring, I took the quickest route, up the AP7 and the A7, the motorway route. It was busy but I was fine, only having a mild heart attack when blue police lights followed me off the motorway, all the way down the airport approach road, onto the airport itself but turned off before I reached the car park. There in plenty of time, plenty of time to indulge myself, have my evening meal, my once on occasion Burger King up on the new mezzanine floor. Jeanie doesn’t like establishments like Burger King but just occasionally, I do. And what I had was good. The burger was juicy and stuffed full with fresh salad and pickles.
Still with plenty of time before Jeanie’s flight arrived, I wandered through the small Smith’s and again wondered about buying the old Attwood, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, which I haven’t read. The trouble is that books in English are so expensive to buy here. The paperback copy I bought cost 12.75€s in Spain. The Spanish price ticket was covering up the £8.50 in England price. However, I did buy it. I was kept entertained until flight arrival time with another cup of coffee and learning the intricacies of Attwood’s dystopian world. Then suddenly, 35 minutes early, Jeanie’s flight had arrived. Sitting in the cafe at arrivals, I had almost missed her. Hastily to the barrier and it wasn’t long before she was there.
At the moment, she is so full of appointments, engagements and ‘gigs’ with various choirs and bands. It was difficult to find the time, an opportunity, to go to the hospital next day. I offered go to hospital very early, leave me there and collect me later. But she had Bible Study to lead and didn’t want me to miss that. In the end it was agreed that we would go to Bible Study, have breakfast at the restaurant where Bible Study meets and then go straight to hospital. Then Jeanie had band practice during the afternoon. So I asked her just to drop me at the hospital, for her to go to band practice and pick me up later when I’d been seen.
Vega Baja hospital does not have a good name. I’ve been there several times, on behalf of other people, or for minor things for myself. I was dreading being dropped. Again, without an appointment and without an interpreter, I had consulted Google Translate again and had a printed ‘This is what I’m concerned about’ piece of paper. Showing that to the man at the reception window, I was immediately despatched to emergency where an auxiliary marched me (he was walking at a pace I found difficult to maintain) to the eye department. A gruff ‘sit’ indicated a chair where I should wait. A lot of people were there, waiting.
I settled down for a long wait but I was surprised to be summoned very quickly. By name. By middle name and surname. That is quite usual in Spain. They have such trouble with my first name in Spain but when I acknowledged my presence, some pronunciation of my first name was attempted. There was a quick check on my eyes. The usual stuff was dropped in to dilate the pupil so a proper inspection of the back of the eye could take place. Then I was returned back to the waiting room until dilation had taken place. It wasn’t long before the real specialist summoned me. She was lovely in nature. Cheerful, smiling, laughing at our mutual attempts to understand each other. My Spanish is still not very good. Her English was better but not good enough. She appeared to be quite happy about what she could see in the back of the eye. But couldn’t explain to me. So she sent for a younger colleague, another specialist, who had almost perfect English. No detached retina. The blow had burst one of the small blood vessels at the back of the eye. The shadow I could see was a very small blood clot which should be absorbed naturally. If there are any further problems, come back immediately. An appointment for 7 to 10 days time was made for a check up. She confirmed with me that I was seeing fine. I was. She then asked if there was any pain. I was delighted to say, in Spanish, ‘Non. Sin dolor.’ Just occasionally the necessary words are there but not yet frequently enough. And apart from the shock of the initial bash on the left shoulder, and the few minutes of feeling stunned afterwards, there has been no pain and my eyes focus normally. The ophthalmologist asked about my cataracts and had a good look at what the surgeon had done in removing them. I had been almost blind before the procedure. Her parting words, in English, ‘good job’. I agree with her. The removal of my cataracts was expensive, as I had the operation done privately, but in this case, a job well done and money well spent, despite my socialist ‘national health services’ principles.
So next Friday, back to the hospital for 11 a.m. I hope it is ophthalmologist Maria Isabel Madrid Saavedra again. Thank you, Spanish public healthcare.