As I wrote on Saturday, I have had little personal experience with hospitals.
That is no longer true. I am now a scarred veteran.
When we arrived at the hospital, two orderlies rushed a wheel chair out to the van. As it turned out, that was probably not the best approach.
As long as I was prone, no pressure was on my foot. As soon as it dangled, though, it hurt. A lot. A quick look at the x-ray at the top of the post shows why.
Like all hospitals,San Javier wants to be certain whoever comes through the front door can pay for services when they exit. I do not have health insurance. That caused a bit of a stir. In fact, the stir was still under wsay the next day.
But only a slight one. After realizing I had a credit card number, an orderly rushed me off to x-ray where it became apparent I had not suffered a mere foot displacement.
X-rays in hand, I was off to the emergency room to be examined by the doctor on duty. She took one look at the x-ray and contacted an orthopedist -- telling me he was on the way.
I have heard "on the way" a lot in my 61 years. In hospital parlance, it can mean almost anything. In what seemed to be almost germanic efficiency, there he was. A short, elderly man who could have played the role of my grandfather -- if I were still the 20-year old I attempt to be.
In perfect English, he told me I had fractured my right tibia at the head and had separated my ankle bones. There was no possibility of simply re-setting it. I needed surgery. And I needed it now.
I asked him to brief my friends, who were still awaiting word in the admission area. He did.
Then, much to my surprise, he allowed all three of them into the emergency room. They were interested in what was going to happen, but their ship was about to leave.
I wished them bon voyage, and then I was -- alone. In a city where I knew no one. In a culture that is based on the assumption that family members will be present to assist hospitalized patients.
That is when the hospital staff performed admirably. In a mixture of Spanish and English, I let them know the information they needed to know (sometimes repeating the same information to several staff members), and they told me what was about to happen.
The anesthesiologist did not give me a general anesthetic. Instead, he gave me an epidural that numbed me from the waist down.
During the surgery, I drifted in and out of sleep. When I was awake, I watched the surgery on my foot. The staff attempted to pull the sheet up to obstruct my view, but I saw quite a bit. And wish I had seen more.
To me, the surgery seemed brief. But it took over two hours to install the screws and pins that will help my old bones to mend.
Tomorrow I will show you my hospital room. Or, at least, I will write about it.