Day 5: Necesito un medico - Of Kasbahs and Kilts - CycleBlaze

June 16, 2015

Day 5: Necesito un medico

It was inevitable I suppose. I have been fighting some damn thing for weeks. I have a sinus infection. I knew it for days, since Seville actually, but was hoping if I thought holy thoughts, and continued to visit Catholic cathedrals with a pure heart I could kick it on my own. If I was home with all my sinus infection paraphernalia it might have worked, but not here under these circumstances.

But I still debated, "I'll wait a day and see how it is," kept running through my mind. "I'll see if it gets any more painful..."

Except halfway through my ride today, through some more pretty farm and pine forest country, I arrived in a small town with a map that had a big blue cross that indicated a medical clinic. Still I hesitated, and while I was studying the map I saw a hiker coming down the road. I rode over to chat and after establishing that Dusam spoke English we set out to the only bar in town (of 2 total bars) that had wifi and ordered a cafe con leche.

"I'm from Slovenia," Dusam said.

"Aaaah, Slovenia. That is where Anze Kopitar is from," I said, pronouncing it correctly as ON-JAY (with more of a soft J) so he know I wasn't just faking the connection.

He seemed suitably impressed that I was so informed on one of the most famous Slovenians, and his family, on earth. But hey, I know my hockey, and Kopitar is one of the best players in the NHL, and a Los Angeles King who I'm a fan of, so of course I know a little something about Slovenia.

It was about that time that I coughed. "Are you sick?" he asked.

"No, its just this thing I have. I had a cold, I'm okay now, but I cough because I have asthma and it's kind of what I do....." and so on and so forth. "Though to tell you the truth I thought about going to the doctor, I think I have a sinus infection."

So Dusam offered to go with me to see if the doctor spoke English. It seemed like the stars had aligned and I would go to the doctor.

As it happens the doctor didn't speak English so Dusam stayed to help out.

Of course my first experience with a Spanish doctor would be memorable. It was outside what looked like a little house right in the middle of town. The doctor would be available until 2:00pm. I arrived and, sort of, established that I was there to see the doctor and my turn would come, after a few others who seemed to have shown up on the spur of the moment without an appointment. There was no receptionist. It was just a kind of thing like, "I am after Juan and you are after me," kind of thing.

I assumed I would just pay cash.

"She probably wont even ask you to pay," Dusam said. "The paperwork will be more trouble than its worth."

After about 45 minutes my turn came, I was the last patient of the day as far as I could tell.

There was no discussion of pre-existing conditions or current medications, we got right down to brass tacks.

"I have a sinus infection," I said, and didn't bother to go into the horrifying details about what has been extruding from my nostrils over the past few days that lead me to this conclusion.

The rest was all done via Dusam's translation, after I hopped up on the table in my cycling clothes.

"Do you have a fever?


She put the O2 thing on my finger, listened to my chest to determine that nothing was stuck in my lungs then pushed on my sinuses.

"Does that hurt?"


I didn't bother mentioning my rib injury. She seemed a bit put off by me and it would be difficult to explain anyway. Besides, I think it's from coughing and I have decided should resolve itself when I get better.

She went to her desk and wrote a whole bunch of stuff on a form I can't read, then another paper to give to the pharmacist for an antibiotic. She took my passport and recorded my information, then asked for my medical card, which I produced and said, "I can just pay cash."

She looked at my card and said something I didn't understand but I had a feeling the meaning was, I don't want to deal with the paperwork, get out. It was just what Dusam predicted would happen.

"She seemed kind of short with you," he said as we walked to the pharmacist to fill the perscription. So it was apparent to both of us.

To my amazement the pharmacist spoke good English. She even suggested a probiotic to counter act the antibiotic. "I'll take it," I said, and plunked down a total of 16 Euros for all of it, with no discussion of an insurance card for prescription drugs.

I have my prescription and, in the end, by the time all that was over and I had lunch and checked my email, and wrote this entry at the little bar, I decided to stay put for the night in the town's alberge. It is a smallish alberge and is almost full with an international cast of walkers, and two Spanish cyclists, but I plan to sleep on the patio in my tent because I prefer sleeping outside, and I don't want to worry about keeping everyone awake if I cough.

I know that going to the doctor should not really be classified as an adventure, but somehow it felt that way.

Dusam my translator
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My diagnosis. It may say "troublemaking American" for all I know?
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My drugs. 16 Euros, no medical insurance required
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Three of the hikers, from Romania, Isreal and Italy
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Today's ride: 26 miles (42 km)
Total: 253 miles (407 km)

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