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Travelling Spain with Two Dogs & a Parrot

With a good internet connection, I can work remotely from anywhere, so my husband Rob & I took advantage of this & are travelling Spain with our pets & everything we own packed into an estate car with roof-box.

Patience & Perseverence - it's Spain!
19 April 2019

After a week in Gandia Francesc de Borja Hospital, I was discharged.

I'd progressed to being stripped naked in ICU, to a back-tied ass revealing gown & finally into a button front number. When I knew I'd be admitted, I'd instructed Rob to pop out & buy me a nightie, an old-fashioned thought really as I'd not realised the hospital would prefer their fresh laundered camis for hygiene reasons.

However, the long-sleeved wynceyette nightie would certainly be welcome for the cold Spanish Winter nights wink

What a week!

After what had appeared to be an efficient & seamless healthcare service whilst in hospital, it all seemed to fall apart upon discharge.

I was discharged by my 'young' efficient, fast speaking (in English, fortunately) doctor. She handed me a sheaf of paperwork, which I understand was for:

  • Details of a check-up at the hospital with her 2 months hence

  • Instructions to make 2 appointments (both required before my appointment with her):

    • 1 for CT scan

    • 1 for echo-cardiogram

  • Dosage sheet for my anti coagulants & date for a blood test in just 3 days time.

Despite trying to think of everything, I forgot to ask:

  • where & how to make the 2 scan appointments

  • whether to take my prescription to the hospital pharmacy, or one in town

  • if the blood clot checks would be at the health centre or hospital.

The doctor left informing me I could leave immediately, so I I emptied my snack drawer, got dressed & did-so!

It was odd, I just wandered out of my room, leaving everything tidy, like leaving a hotel room.

I'd messaged Rob & suggested he wait for me in the entrance hall.  Meanwhile I asked the receptionist where & how to make the appointments. Apparently I needed to go to both Out-Patient & Radiology departments to do this, so we trooped off to find them.

We picked Out-Patients first where three receptionists were all behind the desk chatting together as there were no patients in the waiting room. Apparently they couldn't (wouldn't?) Book my appointment there & then so I had to leave my phone number as they said they'd call.

We left, but as my poor Spanish understanding/listening skills are worse on the phone, I decided to nip back & ask if the appointment details could be texted or emailed, but no, it would be a phone call only. I'll wait to hear from them & have been practising times & days of the week, but am hoping for a letter too.....

Next we headed to Radiology, but arrived at 2.40pm to discover that reception for the general public closed at 2.30pm so we'd need to go back the next day.

The queue at the hospital farmacia was long so whilst we waited at the end, shuffling my discharge papers & debating whether I could go to one in town instead, a lovely English speaking doctor stopped to ask if we needed help. He confirmed any farmacia should be able to fulfil the prescription.  Desparate to leave the hospital by now, I keenly exited into fresh air!

Only to arrive in town just after 3pm in the middle of siesta closing time!

We killed time at a cafe over a coffee & snack until 5pm (better than this hospital food!) & a really lovely farmacéutica sorted out my prescription.

Finally I could return home to the pets, but knowing I needed to be back to both the hospital & health centre in the morning.

I donned my warm nightie (so comfy), but couldn't sleep.

I'd Googled 'thrombosis in the lungs' & only then realised I'd had a Pulmonary Embolism!

My lack of medical knowledge together with the lack of English spoken by the doctor at the medical centre prevented me truly understanding the seriousness of my condition!

This was a blessing really as I was chirpy & confident about my recovery when speaking with family, not realising they were falling apart with concern & worry.

The doctor who transferred me from the Urgencias admission ward to ICU had shown me my heart with & expressed her concern.  But at 2.30am in the morning, after a long, stressful, uncomfortable day on oxygen & drips, wired-up to monitors, I'd peered at the image on her portable echo-cardiogram machine, but didn't really understand.

Anyway, the day after discharge, we drove back to the hospital, a little later than planned after a lazy morning, took a ticket in Radiology & waited 30 minutes or-so for our turn. Only to find out I was apparently missing a TAC authorisation form (Tomografía Computerizada) from the doctor - sigh.

We returned to Cardiology & Pneumology ward to obtain the form &, at 2.25pm, dashed back to Radiology, just in time before they closed. This time I was allocated an appointment - yeaay!

But too late for Oliva Health Centre which closed at 3pm - more sighs.

Two days after discharge we arrived at the health centre at 11am to be advised to take a number & come back at midday due to SIP card administration being open 12pm - 2pm.  We only had to wait 90 minutes before being served & issued our temporary SIP cards wink I could then make an appointment to see the doctor for my blood test the following day.

My first blood test showed the anti coagulant level to be too high & the doctor would have to phone the hospital for guidance.  I was instructed to return a couple of hours later to be issued with a new dosage sheet & appointment in 3 days.  I imagine the same routine may be necessary until the correct levels of blood thinning meds are determined.

At the time of writing, I haven't had a phone call regarding my echo-cardiogram out-patient appointment...

Patience & perseverence - this is Spain!!

Like 2        Published at 08:14   Comments (5)

My Spanish Hospital Experience
12 April 2019

Last Spring were were in the far South West of Spain, this year in Valencia.  I'll pick-up the account of our journey soon, but wanted to share my most recent story as it was certainly an unexpected & unwelcome experience!

After twisting my foot on the rocks near Moraira beach on Saturday, I rested it Sunday & worked at the computer with it raised on Monday.  In hindsight, this was definitely not the best thing to do (isn't hindsight great?), but my foot was swollen & it hurt.

On the Tuesday morning, I rose &, couldn't walk the dogs, but pottered about the rest of my usual routine for a couple of hours, before heading to the shower. Apart from a sore left foot, I'd been fine, but all of a sudden I felt faint & sick, with a pain in my sternum, thumping heart & breathlessness!

My first thought was perhaps a panic attack (though I've never had one & wasn't hyper-ventilating) so I crawled to bed to rest. I was out of breath as though I'd climbed a steep flight of stairs, not gasping, but breathing so very deeply which calmed a little after a short lie down. It was the most frightenening experience of my life.

Until I rose again when the sheer exhaustion & breathlessness returned, so we were off to the medical centre.

I was put straight on various monitors with clips to my chest, fingers, ankles & wrists, followed by oxygen, then a CT scan of my chest. I was wheeled to a room & lay sucking in oxygen whilst Rob & I waited what seemed like hours for the doctor to return.

Rob had to disappear a couple of times to check the parking ticket on the car, then move it, whilst I mentally made peace with potentially receiving bad news.

I reflected on taking the decision to leave home in the UK & travel Europe, though we only made it to Portugal & then stayed in Spain. I was happy we'd enjoyed some great experiences & if that was it, if I had less time than expected to continue on, so be it.

When the doctor returned with nurses in tow, then shooed Rob from the room, I was really scared.

The doctor didn't speak much English, so one of the nurses passed on the message that I had thrombosis in both lungs so would be transported by ambulance to Intensive Care in Gandia main hospital.

Wired-up to machines & monitors, with twice daily blood thinning injections, scans & x-rays, I wasn't allowed out of bed.  I tried to remain positive, but didn't feel great & slept a lot so time didn't pass too slowly especially as my bed was the last in the ward & all the staff had to pass on the way to their rest room.

A young trendy bloke clocked on to work in his shiny shoes, tight jeans & smart leather jacket.  On the first day, he remained in this outfit so I assumed he was in admin or IT.  However on day 2, he was in scrubs - someone elses I think as his trousers were waaay too big & he walked about hitching & holding them up.  Definitely a knock to his cool image!

When visiting, Rob commented on the waveforms on my monitor, attributing a sound to each so I changed the 'noise' by wiggling my finger & moving my arms wink

Only once though as I didn't want the nurses to come running unecessarily!

My progress was good & late Thursday afternoon I was transferred to the Cardiology & Pneumology ward, not allowed out of bed until 24 hours later, but then still limited to my room.

After having to call for a bed pan & having nurses give me bed baths, being able to get up was wonderful & Rob helped me shower. The feel of warm water on my skin was sheer bliss.  I'd a decent view out of my window too, over orange groves to the hills & Rob even brought me tea in a flask!  Other than this, my only 'warm drinks' were tepid milky coffees at breakfast & late afternoon.

Little things, but life was good as I was alive & recovering.

I was so grateful to be alive, likely to fully recover (albeit on meds for a while), grateful for the efficiency of the Spanish Healthcare system, the tireless work of the healthcare professionals, who should be praised & thanked in whichever role or nation they work.

It was probable that my blood coagulated in response to the shock of the strained foot & resting it allowed a clot to form before working it's way to my heart & lungs. I should have moved more, but my foot hurt & prevented my doing-so - a natural instinct.

I was receiving anti coagulants, having frequent blood tests & sent for scans on my legs & heart. My chest pain subsided & I gradually felt stronger. I'd kept my clients up-to-date by WhatsApp & had an associate colleague covering work for the largest.

It's been a really surreal experience for Rob & I, a worry for our loved ones, but thanks to having my smart phone we were easily able to keep in touch. This was crucial, for them, to know I was improving, & for me as being so far away from family, Rob was my only visitor.

It's said so many times - live life to the full & don't take a moment for granted, love your family & friends, take time for & spend time with them - it's true, you just don't know what will happen tomorrow, next week, month or year etc.

Not all our family understand why we left them & chose a nomadic lifestyle, & we do miss them.  I'll be back to see my loved ones in the summer when I'm fully well.

But we wanted to try a new life too, before it's too late because no matter your age, you just never know how long you have left....

Like 3        Published at 08:21   Comments (12)

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