Sunday, December 16, 2018

Doctor heal thyself

I suppose an argument can be made that the ease with which I bought Atorvastatin in Mexico or that my friend Bob bought a sinus medication and a pain killer with a trace of an opiate in it exposes a gaping hole through which less disciplined folks might descend into the abyss of addiction. For sure it lends itself to self-diagnosis as was evidenced by a hilarious episode in Guatemala in February of 2017.

Three weeks into my four week stint at the estimable Ixchel Spanish School in Antigua I woke up with searing sciatica that felt like a red-hot poker shooting down my lower back through my hamstring and into my right foot. It’s always the right side for some reason. My diagnostic skills end with identifying the pain. Yes, it was sciatica. Been there before.

I dealt with the withering discomfort for a couple of days which meant I could make it to the bathroom, the shower, the breakfast room and my mezzanine table for class. Thankfully mi maestra Carmen and I sat five short steps from my treasured dormitorio 4. Or is it recamara, habitación or cuarto? Got me. The Spanish have too many words for bedroom as far as I’m concerned. Anyway, the important thing is that you get room 4. Settle for no other. And while you’re at it ask for a desk or purloin one from the roof deck as I did.

After dinner with Ana, Diego, Ana’s daughter Liliana, and my fellow students the lure of Antigua’s many watering holes demanded I limp and moan to the our bar of choice with my drinking partners. Camaraderie es muy importante. So, shuffle and whine it was for two harrowing days. I was on the brink of quitting school and booking an earlier flight back to Albuquerque when I remembered Sam Fees, my eighth-grade teacher, blistering me for quitting during a 100 yard dash in which I was a poor fifth out of six. My thirteen-year old self thought, “What’s the point?” He screamed, “Never quit, Immel. Never be a quitter.”

Taking that admonition to heart I summoned my inner doctor and repaired to the nearest farmacia on 6a Avenida Sur.  Look for the welcoming Green Cross or Cruz Verde. I described my plight and asked for a pain suppressant and a muscle relaxant. It wasn’t my first rodeo. I’ve fought demons of the back and spine for half a lifetime. When I described my malady and asked for the aforementioned potions, the pharmacist presented two boxes and I realized that the muscle relaxant was a daily injection. In the fog of desperation, I bought it. I’d have performed back surgery on myself to get rid of the pain. Hell, I gave myself a shot in the abdomen every day for a year. How hard can it be? Reaching my right hip with the syringe would raise the degree of difficulty but surely I’d manage. Even dream of relief made me feel better.

When I got back to school for lunch, I described my problem to Ana. By this time, I was doubting my ability to reach half way around my body and plunge the magic elixir into my nalga. Ana told me she had a friend across the street who knew how to give shots since she had been doing it for one of her children. “Do you want me get her?” Ana asked. Did I ever.

“Absolutemente." I answered.

With that Ana walked across the street and brought back the muy amable Lucía. “Much gusto, Lucía. Muchas gracias por tu ayuda.” Glad to meet you. Thanks for the help. She asked if I wanted the first shot right then. I said that I did.

Lucía told me to drop my drawers and lean over my bed so she could administer the first injection into my lily white butt. All the while Ana is watching this unfold from the partially open door to my room. I was beyond embarrassment. Lucía could have brought a class of second graders to watch the show and I wouldn’t have cared less.

That process continued for four more days and I was enjoying my morning jog south down Ruta Nacional 10 toward San Juan Obispo that Saturday morning. Best of all I didn’t bail and was able to complete my second four weeks of Spanish immersion in beautiful Antigua.

You have to be resourceful in the third world and sometimes that means taking chances. These little bouts of risk and reward can become the highlights of your adventure.

1 comment:

Blacks Crossing said...

A truly wonderful story about some of your adventures in Antigua, Guatemala, Esteban. Nothing like pain to bring out inner resourcefulness you did not know you had, and to take the chances needed to fix things. Onward through the muck and mire and sciatica to more adventures in 2019!