It started like any normal day. Jeff and I had appointments with the Podologia. He needed steroid shots in his feet, just like the ones he used to get back in the US. I was ready to admit that maybe it was time for shoe inserts. We walk a lot.
I let Jeff go first. Unlike in the US, here if you have a Dr appt and your spouse has one too, you can both go in together. They’ll freely share your medical info with your spouse. No big deal. You’re married. Jeff needed to go to work, so I figured if my deal took a little longer he could hop the Metro home without me. No problem. I did the interpreting for him. I can do that when I’m not stressed out.
The Dr finished with Jeff, then took a look at my right Achilles. He had me lift my pant leg and did a more thorough exam. His face looked concerned as he went to his desk and began writing furiously on a notepad.
‘You need to immediately go to your Dr next door and get an order for Ecografia (ultra sound). I believe you have a blood clot in your lower leg. Go now and take this paper. Then come back here to have it performed by the radiologist.’
What?!? Jeff and I looked at each other. This was crazy. Jeff’s steroid shots were a distant memory in an instant. We were both in shock. We walked the half block to our general doctor and I handed the receptionist the note. She took me back to see my Doctor ahead of those waiting. This is the Dr who I would normally see for colds or an annual physical. He grew up in Florida and speaks English with a Southern accent, but he’s all Valencian. He did another exam and asked if I had been laying down or sitting for long periods of time.
I told him I had driven from Lugo on Friday and had experienced a fair bit of dizziness at points on the road. I’d had to pull off and I’d called Jeff at one point, a little concerned. People here think driving that far in one day is strange. In the US this isn’t any big deal. Maybe because our country is so big. But even if I had wanted to stop for the night in Madrid or Castilla-La Mancha I couldn’t. They are locked down to outsiders. I’d gone through check points on the Autovia. I couldn’t get off except at service areas that had gas and where I had to get right back on. The Dr got angry with me.
‘You should have been seen days ago. Its crazy you didn’t seek medical attention right away! You need to go to the Emergency right now. I will call the Director of Emergency at the hospital and tell him what is going on. But you have to go now! This s dangerous.’
To be fair, I didn’t have a clue what I was feeling was serious in any way. I just thought.. well, I didn’t know what I thought. Maybe its just that I’m tired of emergency rooms, and Drs in general. I started crying. He seemed to soften. ‘Don’t worry. There will be a solution. We will see it taken care of.’
But I wasn’t just crying just because of this blood clot. I was crying because Fuck 2020!! I was crying cause my Dad died this year. Cause Covid messed with me so hard and keeps hanging around like an ex-boyfriend after a bad break up. I cried for lost houses, and important missed milestones with my kids back in the US. For fucking javalies in the road. None of the people at the Drs office knew all that crap. In Valencia people might shout, wave their arms and raise their voice in anger. But they don’t cry in public, and they don’t cry in waiting rooms or in a taxi. The driver of the taxi they called drove to the hospital faster than an ambulance. Yes, it wasn’t safe but I barely noticed.
I’m much too familiar with hospitals this year. This time I was taken to one I hadnt been to before. The Dr had called, like he said he would. They were waiting for me.
I’m trying to look at this like I’m a tourist at another hotel. What’s different than the others whose doors I’ve darkened in Valencia? How are the staff? Is the signage accurate and readable. Are the porters efficient, and do they take care not to bang you about when wheeling you for a CT scan? You know. Usual stuff you concern yourself with at any Four Seasons. They assigned me my own interpreter. That’s pretty amazing. But this was after they grabbed the young guy in the tie from reception when my stress Spanish hit its limit. My Podologia Spanish is fine. Urgengia Spanish? Yeah, no. Poor guy got to cover his eyes and try to disappear himself into the corner of the triage room as they suddenly they pulled off my pants and opened my shirt to stick heart monitor leads to my chest. I felt sorry for him. He was mortified. Soon my new female interpreter materialized. Voila!
I’m sure it will all be fine. I can definitively inform you the I’m not pregnant and don’t have a brain tumor. Whew! That was close. Not that I woke up thinking about either one of those things as a remote concern. Everyone is very thorough and the facilities at this medical Four Seasons are pretty slick. Jeff is impressed. They let him see me once for a few minutes. Even in Covid times.
I’ve made a big decision laying here. When 2021 rolls around I’m going to wear beige. Just beige. It will be the year of neutrals. No bold moves. No adventures. I’m going to do nothing interesting or unique. I want no surprises. Boring sounds so lovely. Safe. And you, dear readers, can hold me to it. If I do anything outside my beige lane you have my permission to call it out.
‘Now, Kelli, don’t you think you’ve had enough excitement for one day at the Spanish Mattress Museum?’
And I’ll respond in monotone.
‘Perhaps you’re right. Maybe a nice safe nap is in order.’
I close my eyes and imagine it. Sweet, beige 2021. Now I just gotta get from here to there.