Hospitals and Soccer – Madrid 5/29/22

You may have read Yesterday that I had a scare of sorts here in Madrid causing me to visit the emergency room.

Picture This: me as I rode through Madrid streets in a wheelchair, accompanied by doctor because no taxis could get through due to street closures – a parade for soccer. One might suppose it wasn’t so bad, the tour I got, passing sights of interest, sidewalks and cafes filled with tourists. Except I had either thrombosis or a leg injury – even though I joked in Spanglish with my attendants, getting to the hospital to discover what was what, was less than ideal.

I should backtrack. The tour was initiated by the hotel doctor who checked my blood pressure and swollen leg, said in as calm a voice but a face that said otherwise, “I think it’s best you go to the hospital”, to which I agreed, grabbed my backpack full of electronic doodads to occupy myself and proceeded to the lobby. But these things are never simple, are they? Because as I mentioned, no vehicles could get close to where we were until finally my escorts (bellman and doctor) flagged a taxi and sent me to the Hospital Madrid Suchill. Along the way I saw other parts of This beautiful city which was too bad – I was in too much pain to pull out my phone to follow on Apple Maps or enjoy the sights.

After a lengthy (due to aforementioned road closures and detours) drive I arrived at the hospital reception and was directed to the international department where a well suited thirty something, English speaking gent gave me papers to fill out and asked for my credit card as a 350 Euro deposit. Have I mentioned I’m glad I had taken out trip insurance?

It is said that travel opens us up to new experiences and has the capacity to change our lives. Yup. This was new for formerly well seasoned traveler me. I say formerly because apparently I’m somewhat out of practice. The old, younger, pre-Covid me never even considered an injury when traipsing at a brisk pace through hither and yon. “Ah, youth is so wasted on the young, said the crone.” Who? Oh I guess that was me.

Where was I? Ah yes, the hospital. Once I had signed the blank credit card receipt I was directed to the ER waiting room, handed a number, and…Waited for what seemed like an eternity, but was only to be 3 hours. Yes, you read that correctly. You see apparently they did not think I, whose blood pressure had skyrocketed to flashing lights warning lift off and with a very enlarged left leg, needed to be seen before the kids with sprained wrists, the lady with a runny nose, the man who looked like he had an owwy on his finger, I could go on. I began to feel both extremely self conscious, and like I was being overlooked because I was an ugly American from Texas. Should I have explained I didn’t vote for Trump and I have never owned a gun? I was uncomfortable and perturbed but surprisingly quiet. Even others in the room took pity on me, several asking the receptionist when I might be taken. I communicated in Spanglish, French and masked facial expressions my thanks for their efforts.

Finally I was called in to see a doctor who, upon examination of my legs, recommended a blood test to check for thrombosis. Apparently there is an enzyme which shows this called D-Dimer. Something new to research on Google. I agreed to get stuck. The international rep who had accompanied me into the exam room directed me to the magical phlebotomist. I say she was because she stuck a needle in my arm without me feeling it. And then I waited. Ten minutes. Twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Ding.

The doctor and suit called me into the exam room. I braced myself. They spoke Spanish to each other. I caught some words. They smiled. They spoke more. I understood. Then some English. No thrombosis. Yay. Get compression socks. Okay. Did I want pain meds? No. I should ice it. Okay. Take it easy, walk slowly. I agreed. Whew. It’s only exertion. I could deal with that.

They said goodbye and we’ll charge you for the blood test. Ok. I called an Uber, waited fifteen minutes for it to arrive, rode to within a ten minute walk from my hotel (due to road closures) then limped there.

Did I mention I hadn’t eaten all day? Once at the hotel I hit the restaurant post haste, ordered gazpacho, caprese salad and flan. These definitely made up for my lack of food and were delish to boot. Was it that I was just hungry? No, thankfully It was very good food. I waddled to the elevator, to my room and to bed. I ignored the boisterous hordes outside my window by putting earplugs where they should’ve been the night before and slept like a baby.

Today I toured two museums and walked five miles, partly because of even more road closures. My leg is better. We arrived at our hotel to find a huge parade for the winning Spanish soccer team and thousands of cheering fans. The city was packed full of the aficionados who then followed the parade to the next stop. We watched from the comfort of the sidewalk cafe where we ate dinner fashionably late and chatted with fellow travelers. Tomorrow we head to Seville.

I’m going to put my feet up on the train, Onward.

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