Bienvenido a Barcelona – Part III

The Accident

My first two days in Barcelona were lovely. I walked the streets and sat in cafes and ate wonderful Spanish food. I’m in a great and safe area; it feels like New York with older buildings, more charming streets, and friendlier people. I have a hard time understanding the menus and signs, because they’re not in the Spanish I know. But people are very happy to help when I speak Spanish; it’s better to be an American speaking Spanish than someone from Madrid.  Remember that this part of Spain tried to secede not that long ago.

By day 2, I was sick, probably from the flight, during which the people in my cabin coughed and sneezed for 10 hours without masks.  So I stayed inside.  On Thursday, I ventured out to meet a local friend, an American who’s been here for more than 25 years, and we had a great time in a very cool tapas place (pictured above). I began to feel a part of something, until the next day, when disaster struck.

A piece of important information: I have a demon in my bathroom.

Now, I imagine you find that hard to believe, but keep in mind that these buildings are old and have lots of history. I now realize that, that first night when the electrical outlet smoked, it was his doing. (I’m assigning a male gender because of his aggressive attitude.)  

As many of you know, I managed 24 apartments in Hollywood for 25 years, and I am very adept at repairs, including electrical repairs. I was surprised at the incident the first night, because I hadn’t fully plugged the power-strip into the outlet; I simply touched the strip with the end of the plug when everything went black.  I now realize that my demon, who appears to prefer darkness (as I assume most demons do) had been happily (for a demon) living in the bathroom undisturbed until I arrived. He let me know right away that I and my light-bringing technology weren’t welcome in his domain.

On my third night, when I went into the bathroom, I noticed a strange odor, as in not normally associated with bathrooms.  It was almost as if someone were cooking food with exotic spices. I thought it odd (still unaware of the demon, who, living here, no doubt, has a sophisticated palate).

On Friday afternoon, I went into the bathroom to take a shower; I was then planning to check out a local gym. When I walked into the bathroom, I had the feeling that I shouldn’t be there, so I went into the bedroom and sat on the bed. Then, deciding I was being foolish, I went into the bathroom and stepped into the shower.  It’s a very deep shower, with no rubber mat, and I left the glass door open. I turned on the water, stepped back to get the soap, and slipped and fell. Had the door been closed, I could well have shattered the glass.

I’ve fallen a few times in my life, but this was particularly weird. I fell in slow-motion, all the way thinking thoughts like “Oh, I’m falling” and “No, I’m OK” and “No, I’m definitely falling.” Perhaps my demon wanted me to experience terror for again invading his bathroom, but I felt detached and curious.  There was no bar or anything to grab, so I went down, reaching behind me with my recently operated-upon arm, and banged first my head and then my left hand. When it was over, I looked at my hand is if it weren’t mine: my hand was facing forward and my thumb was pointing in a different direction.

Now, I’ve never dislocated or broken anything, but it was clearly wrong; and then it began to hurt. I got up and called the two people I knew for the name of the nearest emergency room. I then got dressed as much as I could, went downstairs and took a taxi to an ER. As the shock wore off, the pain became excruciating, first in my hand and then, hour by hour, in my shoulders and hip.

The ER doctor was Chinese, wore a mask, and spoke Castilian, so communication was difficult. It turned out that he spoke English but was uncomfortable with it. He did a thorough exam, sent me for X-rays, straightened my thumb, and put a cast on my hand. I didn’t break the thumb, but I broke a small bone in my hand and tore a ligament. The clinic was not equipped to do more than an X-ray on my shoulder (which wasn’t broken), and he couldn’t have done anything about it anyway, so he sent me home.

They’re pretty conservative with pain meds here, so I got only some ibuprofen. That was fine with me, since that’s all I took after my surgery. I’m not a fan of opioids. So, now I’m seeking an orthopedist to check my shoulder, which I’m treating with ibuprofen and ice. It’s convenient that I wore the sling from my surgery on the flight in order to protect my arm. It’s come in very handy.

Oh, and two days after my ER visit, where only the doctor was masked, I got my covid symptoms yet again.

Are we having fun yet?

So that I don’t despair, I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to experience living here; if I considered it a vacation, it would qualify as a total disaster. And thank god I have experience navigating clinics and health systems in non-English-speaking countries. My time in Costa Rica served me well.

I’m in very little pain, and I’m used to managing with my left arm in a sling. I’m reading copiously since I don’t even get CNN on my TV. And I’m still walking around exploring.

Also, things are, as advertised, cheaper here. And Medicare has agreed to reimburse the medical expenses. I’ve already filed my first claim.

So, stay tuned, my friends, and let’s hope things get better.

One more thing: If you have any ideas for assuaging a demon, please send them. I keep the light off most of the time and leave offerings. I hope he likes tapas.