We´re deep in the third wave in Valencia. Its twice as bad as it was last March and April. The medical system is near collapse as they´re opening field hospitals and reactivating old hospitals that had been closed down. The buildings are old and dilapidated but they need places to put people. In the paper they said they have beds in break rooms, gift shops and lobbies. We predicted this when we came back in September from Portugal for supplies and saw the entire city in packed cafes on the street without masks because ´they were eating and drinking.´ People say it´s not the cafes where the spread occurs but I don´t think anyone knows that. Talking, laughing and sharing a meal are all risky activities when you´re maskless. Its simple math.
I will say that my second stay in the hospital this last time was very different than the one just a couple weeks before. Less trained staff and less staff in general. It was hard to get a nurse to come when you hit the buzzer. Or should I say a nursing assistant. It seemed that’s all that were available when someone did come. I knew this when I would ask a question and they would say `I´ll ask the nurse.´ It was more than a little disconcerting that the person handing me meds had no idea what they were for or how or if I had taken the dose before. At one point, I woke up – luckily Jeff was in the room – and I had a pile of pills the person had just stuck on my tray. There were duplicate pills I had no idea if I should take one or two or how long they had been there.
Getting water was a challenge. Jeff finally went to the store to get a couple of cases of water for my room as it was up to 5 hours between when they would respond to me buzzing asking for water. Often, they would drop off pills to take and I would have nothing to take them with. But they would never return with the water. It wasn´t like this in December. Something has gone horribly wrong. My regular Dr looked through all the blood work they took after I got released. He said it was clear I was dehydrated almost the entire time. He was appalled.
Yesterday was another round of appointments. More tests scheduled. But that´s not news. What struck me is on the way to the Dr. so many people without masks on the street. And when I say this I don´t mean they were pulled down to their chins. I mean NO mask in sight. Talking and laughing on the sidewalk. We had to walk by them. On our block alone it was about 50% of the people we passed. Shocking in this environment. Valencia is the worst province in Spain for COVID right now. over 1,400 cases per 100k people. Yesterday the regional health minister finally admitted its completely out of control and ravaging the population unchecked. Duh. Horrifying. And yet there are still people flouting the measure to stem the tide. Acting like they´re getting away with something. And it wasn´t teenagers.
Valencia has restrictions on everything now – except this time we are not locked in our homes. There is a curfew from 10pm to 6am nightly. Jeff says they´re queueing at the grocery store again after a harrowing Saturday when he ventured out for food. He says there were so many people in the Mercadona you could barely move. I have no idea why they stopped doing this in Spain. In Portugal we had to queue in September and October. Masks are mandatory and they´re discussing banning cloth masks. France and Germany have already made N95´s mandatory. Spain seems reticent to implement this. I´m not sure why except fear of supply issues but we got more from our local farmacia before they run out. Yes, they´re expensive but who cares. We know the value of our health.
On weekends, starting on Fridays at 3pm and ending on Mondays at 6am, Valencia City is closed. You can not leave. Planes, trains or automobiles. All larger municipalities are the same throughout Spain. They don´t want people leaving to their second homes spreading contagion. The border of the entire community is closed unless you meet strict guidelines to come or go.
All non-essential businesses are closed. As are restaurants, bars and hotels. They can only serve take out meals or drinks. Our local coffee place has a socially distanced line snaking around the block in the mornings. We can see it from our window.
No one can come to your house except a workman. But you can´t have people over for any reason that do no reside in your home. They´re evicting people who are turned in by neighbours. I read in the paper that one guy they arrested for throwing a party said he `had never heard of Covid´. Is it a crime to be that stupid? It should be. No more than two people can gather on the street or walk down a street. And yet we saw this flouted yesterday like nothing was happening to kill so many. Fools.
After being in the hospital and speaking to the nurses we wear two masks. An N95 first and another over the top. We have cloth masks or 3 ply surgical masks that we use in combination. The nurses told me in the ER it´s the only thing that stops it. That and hand washing/sanitizer. They wear goggles too. It can enter through the eyes. I wear my glasses now religiously and wash the lenses when I´m coming home. Every little bit helps. The new variants from the UK, South Africa, and Brazil are here and spreading like a forest fire. We can´t risk getting it again from a strain more virulent and deadly than the last.
But there is a bright spot
Yesterday, they announced that Spanish researchers have found a drug that reduces the viral load of Covid by 99% in lab animals. They are entering human trials now and hope to have an effective treatment, not just a vaccine, very soon. So while so many are saying they won´t take the vaccine, if they do get it we might just be able to ensure the virus won´t reap long term damage to their health. Imagine. What a wonderful break through that will be.
I think we´re all fatigued from nearly a year of this. It hardly seems possible. Sadly, I think it will be our reality for the rest of 2021, too. But I´m going to approach 2021 differently than last year. I´ve started using Rosetta Stone again in the hospital and I think my Spanish is improving. I´m going to get healthy and come out of this with some new skill. Perhaps that with be better Spanish and newfound patience. It´s a steep learning curve. For now it´s just one day at a time.