Spain is Trying to Kill Me
Monday 21:00 I’m not feeling so hot, I’ll sleep early
Tuesday 00:30 Cough. Cough woke me up but I’m fine. Back to bed.
Tuesday 1:00 Cough, cough. Ahh I just need water. Okay, really time to sleep.
Tuesday 3:30 Cough, cough, cough. Uh oh. This isn’t looking good.
Tuesday 6:15 Beep, beep, beep, beeppppp. Alarm for school already?
Tuesday 9:00 Oh, I’m late for… actually I’m not going to work today
My head feels like it weighs 300 pounds, my nose is completely congested, sudden attacks of gnarly coughs come and go, and body aches that make it hard to move creep over me: time to look for a doctor in Spain. They told us to look for one at orientation but who does these types of things early?
Step 1: Email coordinator to let them know I won’t be in today.
Step 2:Call my insurance company to see what doctors were covered (I might be sick but I can still hear my bank account crying form my last trip).
Step 3:Google doctors near me.
Step 4: Start attempting phone calls. My Spanish is mediocre at best but Spanish when I’m struggling to even breathe? Ha! First place I could find, “Ummm hola, necesito una cita hoy.” Silence. No appointments. Onto the next. They had an appointment but wanted to know my symptoms... in Spanish? Here we go (thank you google translate app): cough-tos, asthma- asma, congested-constipado (false friend- not constipated btw)... this is going to be a long day.
“Becca. Go see Dr. Borras,” my roommate who has been here a year already chimed in through my closed door. She overheard my struggle on the phone and recommended an English speaking doctor. They have an appointment for 3 pm. Finally, help is in sight.
Tuesday 14:00 Alarm goes off. Really? I just fell asleep
Tuesday 14:30 Look like death on the metro, avoid everyone
Tuesday 15:05 “Hola, tienes una cita?”
I respond in the most whispery, broken, breathless Spanish, but at least I’m trying right? I think I was told to sit down and wait, so I take a seat as far away from everyone else as possible. The doctor comes out, “Rebecca, Espanol o Ingles?” “Yo! Y English porfa!” I muster to blurt out. I’m all for using Spanish because I am in Spain after all but there’s something about feeling understood when your sick. He asked my symptoms, checked my breathing, looking in my throat, and prescribed antibiotics. I stumbled over to the pharmacy: 8 euro and 50 cents for antibiotics and an inhaler? What a steal.
This was my first experience with being sick back in November. Since then, I have seen Dr. Borras a few more times and even made a last minute appointment with a Spanish doctor when needed (working with 3 year olds is the most adorable hospital sentence). I can say that it all feels a lot less frantic after the initial trial. 6 months in Spain, 5 doctors appointments, 4 justificantes, 3 antibiotic treatments, 2 almost booked flights home and... a partridge in a pear tree? I won’t lie to you and say this has been the easiest thing to handle abroad but it has been doable. If you’re worried about figuring all of this out before you come, stop. Your year abroad won’t be all sunshine and rainbows, but it will work itself out. You’ll get through the illnesses and the confusion. It makes the late nights with friends, the last minute trips, and the hunt for the best croqueta that much more exciting. The ying and the yang remain in balance after all.