The English Patient

And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; And patience, experience; and experience, hope. Romans 5:3,4

So this morning I awoke and NOTHING had changed from last night. My head still hurt like crazy, I was hacking like an old smoker from Woodridge, and I couldn’t breathe through my nose. And my bones were BRITTLE dry. Nothing was looking like a “Hallelujah, schöner Morgen” to me!

I put my contacts in and went downstairs. What was I gonna do? This could NOT go on like this. I looked into the fridge but saw nothing that appealed to me in there. My goodness, what did I buy all those beers for anyway? Haven’t had one since Saturday night! A bit of yogurt and a quarter of a banana and that was breakfast. No enthusiasm to make my first cup of coffee here.

I stepped outside. I was determined to do something about it now. Across the street the neighbour was polishing his car like he does every morning. I walked across to say hello. He looked at me all friendly, but couldn’t understand a word I said. I tried a bit of Spanish. Doktor? (see how I spelled that?) Hos-pee-TAL? Mi infirme. Mi cabeza no gusto. Ayuda mi? He motions for me to wait, says he will get Anglais person.

A moment later out comes the younger man who lives here. I explain the problem without my special Spanish accent. He is kind and understanding. Do you have allergies? My wife gets sinus headaches from allergies. No, I’m quite sure this is from the cold I picked up a week-and-a-half ago. He suggests that I not go to the hospital. He explains that many Farmacias here have a doctor in them that can prescribe medicine. Wait a moment, I will be right back. He goes back into the house.

I waited many moments. Maybe he’d forgotten about me? I could hardly stand to stand out here so long, but the temperature was just right, with a very light breeze. Finally the man DOES return. He’s apologizes, says he’s made a lot of phone calls, and gives me a piece of paper with the ‘nombre’ and ‘addresse’ of the Farmacia YZA. He assures me that this one has a doctor there.

I Uber a ride. Not a long wait — about 7 minutes and the car is at the front gates to the country club. But of course those super high-security guards won’t let him in. He phones me. Spanish, spanish, spanish, spanish. Mi no comprende. Solo Anglais. PLEASE wait for me there — don’t leave. I start running the 800 metres to the front gate. I’ve made it so much progress today already, I don’t want to lose this guy. And I’m lucky. When I get to the gates I hand my phone over to one of the guards in the ‘out’ booth and ask her to please tell the caller that I am ‘aqui’ (here)! She doesn’t understand what I’m telling her, but takes the phone and then I see that she is talking to the guy in the car across the road at the ‘in’ booth. Whew! I hop in the car and give the guy my little paper from the neighbour. He nods, and we’re off.

But he doesn’t follow the address that I’d punched in as the Uber destination. No, he knows of a Farmacia that is much closer. Oh, oh. When we pull into the parking lot (“See! Farmacia YZA!” he says, proudly), I ask ‘Doktor aqui?’ Hmmmm… Don’t think so. We both go inside to ask. No, no, no. After the pharmacist gives Mr Uber a long schtreepful we get back into the car and go back to the main road. Eventually we find the correct place. Mr Uber doesn’t offer to wait for me — he’s already frittered away too much time for this fare.

I go in. Two very Spanish ladies don’t have a clue what I’m asking about. They say ‘Momento, por favor’ and a minute later in walks a lovely young woman. She announces that she is the doctor. Oh boy! I sure hope my Spanish will be enough to ‘esplain’ what is wrong with me. I pay the ladies at the counter 45 pesos for the referral and then Ms Doktor and I go next door to her office. She is very friendly and she speaks very good English. The visit is surprisingly professional and thorough. The English patient is weighed, measured, probed, and swabbed, and I get my arm all pumped up to make sure whatever is in there isn’t causing my headache. She looks at the back of my throat and says something about mucous. Okay, we’re on the right track. She puts pressure on my forehead and sinus areas. Yep. You’ve got an infection. You will need antibiotics. I will prescribe. A lot of writing and then she goes over it with me. Not just antibiotics, but THIS for your mucous and THIS for headaches and THIS for pain and THIS to dry out your sinuses. See? I really was quite sick! But now I am SET!

She comes back into the Farmacia with me and helps select all the right boxes of pills. She writes instructions on each box: this every 12 horas, this 1 x dias, etc. I’m impressed. And I can’t wait to get going with the medicine! I quickly added a new toothbrush and toothpaste to the bag of drugs, paid about $35 CAD for the works, and walked out. Already I was feeling quite a bit better. At least now I had a plan. And I was pretty sure I wasn’t going to keel over and die here just yet.

I walked back along the main road for a block or two. There were some huge fancy buildings across the street. A casino, a Costco, a big new fancy modern shopping centre. I walked across the road and into the mall and sat down in a little coffee shop. I ordered a cafe americano and a bottle of agua. Then I opened up some of my packages and took the first steps to my recovery. Ahhh!

I confirmed another Uber to take me back home. This time the driver spoke English, and I got some valuable info from him as we drove back. He dropped me off at the front gate and I walked back to my house. The neighbour was nowhere in sight. I went into my place and had the rest of my pill breakfast. And a chocolate doughnut (that’s the last of those!).

I sat down on the couch. “Nuscht met en teks!” Take it easy. Rest. Why not write the journal entry for yesterday now that you can bear to sit up for a while. I was on the phone, FaceTiming with Dave when I saw my neighbour slowly walking by the apartment. I hung up and rushed outside to thank him. I invited him in and gave him a full report. He was very pleased that he had been able to help, and he offered that ANYTIME I had a question or problem I should give him a call. We exchanged phone numbers. ‘Pepe’, as he introduced himself to me, had been a pilot for over 40 years, spoke good English, and knew lots of Canadians who came to live here in this country club every winter. He actually tried to make a call to his friend Jack from Edmonton, in order to introduce me to him. Jack must have been out on the golf course. Still, it was encouraging for me to hear that there were other Canadians in the area — and that Dave and I would probably meet some of them when we go golfing here next week. I thanked Pepe again for being a friend to me in my hour of need.

So my head still wasn’t feeling that great, but my disposition was 100% improved. A little less ‘tribulation’ and a whole lot more ‘hope’!

Later in the afternoon Pepe came around again — this time with his buddy Jack. So we chatted a while and that felt good. I’m sure we will be seeing a lot more of both guys in the days and weeks to come.

Just before 4:00 I made myself a ham and cheese sandwich. That’s more like it. Already the pills were having an effect. But I decided not to go out (to the clubhouse) for supper. I did a bit of work on my computer and made myself a bit of supper while watching the Nashville @ Chicago hockey game on that fancy new TV thingy Mario installed yesterday. When the game ended (in overtime) it was quarter to ten — time to take my next dose of pills. I could feel that the first dose had warn off. I wrote my blog and then shut things down downstairs and headed up to bed. I’ll try to watch the CBC National on my bedroom TV before calling it a night.

Here’s hoping that the tribulations are over. See ya tomorrow.