BootsnAll Travel Network

More Privileged Views of Portugal: In the Hospital

This was going to be another day of silence, but life happens, and it feels good to blog right now. It turns out I´m severely allergic to bed-bugs. I went to the Farmacia to ask for something a little stronger than the gel, and the pharmacist looked at a couple of my bites and sent me immediately to the hospital. She said I am having an “urgent event.” I like that term, it seems so much less frightening than an emergency. I got to see another side of Portugal that most tourists don´t see. Sick babies, old men having heart attacks, women with pain in the stomach, and me, with seeping welts. The camaraderie in the waiting room was wonderful, and everyone was eager to know exactly where I encountered the Pulgos, and they asked to see my most dramatic welts, which I was a little embarrassed about showing, but the worst ones are on my legs. Only the doctor got to see all of them. I apologized to the other people in the waiting room and said it is not a very big problem, but they were wonderfully sympathetic, and the doctor gave me intravenous antihistamines. Wow. Cool drugs! I´m really floating now.

I´m still in Ponte de Lima, dazzled by its beauty, and the woman doctor who treated me is Spanish, so she talked to me in Spanish and I understood, although I wasn´t able to talk much. I told her when it happened, what it was (thanks Christopher!), and what I have done. She said it was good to throw away the backpack, daypack, money belt, and books. She said I should go home and throw away the poncho and the silk sleep sack, because although the bugs don´t like them, they lay eggs on everything. She said I need to get rid of everything except what can be washed and dried on very high heat. Even my wonderful new shoes. She laughed at the suggestion that I put my stuff in the sun in a plastic bag. She said if I did that, I would make a bomb, and the whole city of Ponte de Lima would be inundated with bugs. She said these bugs love the sun. She also said there is no poison that will kill the eggs, so it´s important to get rid of everything that can´t be treated with a “secador” (dryer). All in all, this has been a very expensive experience, mostly because of what I had to throw away. As there is no self-service laundry in Ponte de Lima, I delivered to the Lavandaria the clothes I had on when I washed the others on Saturday–sealed in ziploc bags. The man at the Lavandaria was very grateful that I had sealed the clothes in the bags and said he understands what to do with them now. The doctor and I talked about the difference between being a Spanish or Portuguese tourist in the USA and having an “urgent event,” and the same thing here. It cost 40 Euros to see the doctor in the emergency room, and another 20 Euros for the meds I need to take over the next three days, plus the cream I need to continue using twice a day till the lesions go away. In the States it would have cost ten times that, even given my health insurance, because the co-payments are so high. And woe to the Spanish or Portuguese tourist who has an urgent event in the USA. I really enjoyed the people, the atmosphere, and the friendliness of the hospital. Everyone was very kind and patient with my broken Portuguese, and I felt richly privileged to be in an intimate situation with a room full of Portuguese people.

I´m getting woozy, so I think I´ll call it a day on the internet. Did I just say that twice? Yeah, cool drugs, but it is becoming difficult to string thoughts together, so I´ll just go sit by the water and watch the people at the market. I would have preferred not to have this experience, but I´m having it, so I might as well just lie back and enjoy it.

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