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Time to move to Spain

Medically retired at short notice our plans to move to Spain are brought forward by a few years. With little time to spare, this is our story.

A visit to the doctors
14 January 2016

Feliz ano Nuevo! 

Thank you to all who comment to my blogs. In response to the last one, we have found filmon but on our system it buffers like mad and occasionally refuses. We tried the laptop method which works really well but have to use the laptops quite a lot so is limited. We have settled well here but there's a big year ahead for us. 

We settle quickly back into life here in Spain. The weather is a pleasant 18 - 20 most days with cool evenings. We are told by a local that this is good for the time of the year and that Spain will soon have its winter, if not January then certainly February.  This is disappointing but given we spent long rainy days and nights in England over recent weeks we put the whole thing in perspective. 

The big celebration for Christmas here is the three kings which in on the evening of 5th January. We miss the celebrations although we can hear music and noise in the distance. It's a public  holiday on the 6th and all shops are closed, only bars open. Interesting to note that yet again there was no panic buying in the days up to the holiday with supermarkets no busier than normal.

One of the concerns for us when we first came out here was if either of us became ill. Sue has had an ear infection for a few weeks now. We have visited the medical centre twice but the problem continues. On our first visit we attend what seems to be a medical centre. The language difference means we walk to the reception not knowing what the procedure is, but then it can't be that difficult can it? It turns out there is a queue which, when you look around, people aren't queueing. They sit and stand around, occasionally moving so that others can move up. We position ourselves behind someone who looks like they are in a queue. Luckily we are right and are soon at the counter again where we are told that we are in the wrong place. We need (what turns out to be) a larger clinic come hospital similar I suppose to what we would consider a 'drop in centre' in the UK. 

It's not too far away, and further ten minute walk on the way out of town. This time we are very aware of potential hidden queues, but all we see are people sitting in seats in what appears to be a waiting room. The desk is empty and no one around appears to be a receptionist. Luckily we are directed towards another room where we see a proper queue this time and three receptionists. We wait our turn and on speaking to a receptionist we find that there is one receptionist who speaks English, and it's not this one. Back to the queue and we are shortly seen to. NIE numbers and passports are essential when attending anything official, this is no different. We also bring E111 but are also aware that this card may have a short shelf life due to our current status. Sue is issued with a SIP card which appears to entitle her to medical treatment for the next two months and we are ushered back to the large waiting room where we sit and wait for our name to be called. 
Waiting for your name to be called could rightly be considered straightforward, however, it's not. The first name gets called out and we realise that we may not actually recognise our name when it comes up. The video screen does not appear to be working so we hope our name sounds fairly familiar when it's called out.  Names are called, people respond, sometimes, and we wonder if it was our name called. After about 45 minutes a name is called out and we think the same one is called out again so we go and look... We eventually find an open door and sure enough, it's our doctor. 

I've mentioned before that the main part of Torrevieja is very Spanish and the signs on the wall of the medical centre request non Spanish speaking patients should bring an interpreter. The doctor speaks very little English, probably enough to get by, usually. We get by on 80% sign language, 10% words and 10% luck. The doctor looks in Sues ear before skilfully flicking the earpiece 10 feet across the room into the waiting bin. I'm very impressed as she doesn't even look first and want to applaud but decide better of it. We end up with a prescription for antibiotics and ibuprofen and we leave, having been at the centre less than an hour. Result! 

Our next surprise is the cost of prescriptions. Less than 4 euros for two items. We almost felt like running out of the pharmacy in case the pharmacist realised their mistake. Unfortunately the antibiotics only had a limited effect and we had to return the following week. A lot more straightforward this time as Sue already had her sip card and we soon saw the same doctor who again skilfully flicked the earpiece across the room into the bin without looking. Another prescription for stronger tablets and again less than 4 euros for two items at the pharmacy. 

What happens when you have been to the medical centre twice, had two weeks of antibiotics but no change in your condition? The doctor said that if symptoms persist, Sue should go to hospital. We toyed with that prospect and there are two hospitals within a short drive of where we live in Torrevieja. We decide instead to get a second opinion for the main reason that it would be ideal to get a consultation in English. We could actually be seen by a non English speaking doctor again and be no better off. We find an English speaking doctor near to Carrefour and after a short wait Sue is seen. A short while later and following an anti inflammatory injection, she exits the surgery with a prescription for ear drops and a diagnosis. The cost of this private consultation is 50 euros. It's important to note at this point that the doctor did not accept the sip card for treatment as he was private. There was no discussion about cost until the charge at the end of the consultation. I would suggest finding that out at the start of the consultation and make sure you have the money with you. Within 24 hours symptoms have significantly reduced, two days later Sues ear is as normal. I'm not sure if it's correct to say that language was the reason for this. Sue was able to explain everything clearly to someone who understood. This may have happened in the hospital but maybe not. It shows that even if you surround yourself with English speaking people all the time (and we are not) the value of speaking the local language in circumstances like these cannot be underestimated! 

Just one point. Following the excesses of Christmas I returned to Spain with a little extra baggage. I had to give up my gym in England and can't find one suitable here. If anyone knows Torrevieja and can guide me in the direction of a decent gym I would be most grateful! 

 



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