May 4, 2014 by theloneblonde
So I happen to get hurt a lot, or I get sick. This year alone I think every week I have found a new aliment or problem that has required me to have to take a visit to see a doctor. Weather it was a sinus infection, an ear infection, a bladder infection, a stomach infection, a potential kidney infection (which was in fact ruled out) or the hope that I have parasites again (they are a breeze compared to the strange stomach infections), this time I actually hurt myself. However, my doctors in the capital who are probably very sick of seeing me told me I was going to be fine.
I however am a self-diagnosed hypochondriac, however rightfully I do tend to take unavoidable health risk like drinking the local water. I would like to defend this by saying I am trying to approve my immune system and I am now getting incredibly good at pooping in small medical cups (party trick?).
So the other day I decided to make myself a cup of tea and sit out on my balcony looking out over the sunset and call my friend Megan to talk about the trials of our everyday lives working with Albanian municipalities. A nice cup of blueberry muffin tea which had been donated to the “Help me I am poor fund” from my friend Karl who has since left the country. The tea itself was probably taken off the market in the states and sent in the abundance to Albania on the account of the fact that it taste like drinking a blueberry muffin, which is a little strange. However, we don’t have blueberry muffins or blueberries and it’s the little things in life that can make your day. Overlooking a beautiful sunset over the valley, I become highly discombobulated and ended up spilling my tea all over my lap though taking a big gulp and reminiscing about Blueberry Muffins and wondering why Blueberries were not a thing in Albania! We have all the other berries! My lips were satisfied with the ideal strange cup of tea, did not even burn my mouth from drinking the tea too early like I normally do.
Well, not ten seconds later I was thinking damn my lap is on fire! Looking to where the hot water had hit my staple Primark leggings, pealing them back I realized that my skin had been infused to the inside. That cannot be good. After yelling to Megan and consequently half the people in my town in the process, I had no idea what to do. Forcing Megan to google the problem from halfway across the country, I ran to my bathroom to try and track down some water to rinse it off and cool it down. However easier said then done, only getting up to five hours of water a day, the time I actually need water there was none on hand. After considering siphoning water out of my toilet I remembered I had a full bottle in my kitchen I ran to the kitchen and back to the bathroom to relive the pain in my leg from further boiling my skin to bits.
It’s just a burn! No problem right, I have had enough first aid training in my life to figure out what to do. Well that is great when you have the supplies and my medical supplies were dwindling. Not to mention easy when it’s just a little burn however this was pretty gnarly with a 9cm radius, I was not really sure what to do other then picture message my doctor in Tirana who informed me I would be fine! Well not everyone thought I would be fine, and that includes the pharmacist when I went to try and pick up some burn gel along with my site mate who suggested I visit the hospital. After a day of it festering and me not really knowing what to do my site mate decided that it was necessary for me to go to the local hospital to get it bandaged up by a trained professional.
Our hospital in town is the regional medical facility, however may look straight out of a horror film. Dark, dodgy, and depressing the old grey cement building looks over the mountains sitting on a cliff over a canyon. Most of the people of town head to the nearest city for the pressing medical issues and most of the patrons of the regional medical hospital are from villages up to several hours away, some of the patrons even have to walk two hours before reaching actual pavement to be able to hitchhike. Many nurses are present and often very competent however there are few doctors who work even fewer hours most trained in the communist school of medicine or maybe training by the Chinese doctors who were once helped the communist set up regional medical care in the area. Being a doctor is also attached to politics and political affiliation meaning that if you are not part of the party you could lose your license or it goes both ways figure it out. Now imagine being in labour or having a heart attack and having to arrive here, maybe not the exact place to be. Though they have water most of the time and access to free bandages re: help me I am broke(n).
Walking in to the hospital and lifting up my skirt they decided my two day old trauma qualified for me to walk straight into the ER to be seen, I was also their only patient. No lines, or insurance paperwork to be seen, just 3 nurses sitting around a desk asking me what in the world I did, and how could this come from a cup of tea, not to mention why have we not seen you before here you get hurt all the time! Well they don’t see me because at the advice of the PC selected doctor I am not really supposed to go to the hospital and they do not condone my behavior and well I really need bandages and water I was somewhat out of options in my small town.
After going through the fact that I am a total kutz and I should let tea sit for a few minutes they asked me if I had brought anything with me aka BYOD. Bring your own drugs, and medicines are apparently how they occasionally operate. Spraying me down with my own iodine and wincing in pain they covered me with a very extravagant layer of my burn cream and bandaged me with multiple breathable layers of gauze. Done fairly well and contained, they instructed me after signing the log that I should come back the next day to get it touched up for another bandage. They thought I was slightly incapable of doing it on my own, so I thought this may be a good idea. Also re: water, free bandages.
Going home and realizing that I was not getting better and getting worse I managed to make everything worse that night by doing any simple task. It had not been my couple of days. After going home I managed to slice my fingers open trying to cut a potato and then proceed to break half of my dishes after trying to put them away. Good-bye breakfast plates, hello bubble that I should be kept in. Being renegaded to the floor eating only on plastic using my fingers or a spoon because I am unstable.
Saturdays are market days in town, and sellers from all over the region come in to sell a mix of useless junk and awesome junk, and fresh organic produce. One of the few places you can get a brand new H&M swimsuit for about 50 cents, however that is after digging through towering piles of used swimsuits ranging from lightly used in an Italian resort to completely deteriorated and could potentially be underwear. So this Saturday like all the others my site mate and I and our two out of town visitors who were visiting for site mate’s birthday had planned to head down to the market bright and early. However stepping out of my house covered in a makeshift bandage made of a paper towel and some masking tape, I then thought to myself to take up the nurse’s request and return to the hospital to have it bandaged.
Hobbling to the other side of town to yet again meet the great concrete monstrosity I approached it greeting some of the local nurses who had gathered in front of the hospital taking a smoking break and to watch the event that was ensuing. The local police was carrying one of the many town marked crazies off with a large bandage on her head because as I later learned she punched a pregnant women and then the man who owns the town pigs (and extra large moving tourist attraction) punched her. The nurse who also happens to be the pastor of the church stopped me to ask what I had done now, because he is well aware that I often hurt myself. Telling me that I should live in a bubble he sent me back into the ER for the on staff nurses to take care of me, as he helped put the local crazy into the back of the police van.
Back in the ER the nurses were confused by my makeshift bandage but did not question my ingenuity as to my relief they washed their hands and pulled out some of the sterilized medical tools from one of those sterilization machines that you see when you get a pedicure in a licensed place. Pulling out my own medicine from my purse and pulling up my skirt to the get a good view of the burn they began to do the same thing as the day before. Though nearly two minutes after they began the actual doctor rushed in to the ER and abruptly yelled at the nurses something to the equivalent of “YOU’RE DOING IT ALL WRONG!” Uh-Oh. Without wishing his hands and bringing in half of the town to watch his debatably trained hands attack my wound the smell of raki and cigarettes rolled off of his old and tattered jacket. He grabbed the iodine out of the hands of the nurse to instruct her what she should actually be doing. Apparently she should actually be pouring straight iodine directly into my very deep burn as the nurse pours alcohol. Now, if you have never had the pleasure of having iodine placed on an open wound, well let me tell you all about it. Do you ever wonder what the baking soda must feel like when you mix it with vinegar or what lava would feel like if it landed all over your body on a Hawaiian vacation, kind of like that. Suddenly, I knew this was not going to go well I felt the color drain from my body, I needed sugar and I had not eaten breakfast. This was not going to end well.
My eyes felt heavy my shoulders began to slump and I yelled out to my friend Jamie to find me a coke because I was going down. I tried to reason with the doctor to stop the assault attack on my festering burn with the powerful iodine and alcohol coming down on to my leg however only English came out, and that was a language that he did not speak. Then that was it, lights out, on the table skirt wide-open, legs spread eagle and half the town watching. Not my classiest moment.
I awoke to cotton balls covered in raki stuffed up my nose, coughing from the strength of the booze as the doctor attempted to take my pulse by rapidly slapping the veins in my arms and neck. Useful. So then I did what most would do, I just started crying. As the doctor decided to dress my wound with bandages covered in more iodine I tried to work up the strength to sit up and tried to suppress every urge not to punch him in the face. My site mate informed him that I was not ok and I needed some time to recover, as he yelled at me and told me that if I needed time I should just get admitted to the hospital… officially my worst fear.
Lesson Learned, the hospital is a scary place and now I have the proof to back it up.
Two days later I burned myself again this time on a rouge piece of flying popcorn. Took it to the shoulder. I will wear the burn proudly; I don’t think it will require a visit to the hospital.
Disclaimer: This is a story and it is how I saw it happening, it is not a commentary on anything, just my crazy ideas…
Oh and there are pictures…
The Nurses spreading Iodine all over my Leg
The pain is real, I make stupid faces when in Pain.
Photo Credit: Fellow Wisconsinite Heidi