28 Jan Digital dislocation
Urgencias is what the Spanish call their A&E. My first experience of this came on Friday when, a mile or two into an easy hike, I tripped and fell awkwardly on my right hand. A stupid accident as they so often are. I blame the glasses. I usually wear contact lenses, have done for almost 50 years. I was wearing my relatively new varifocals for the walk. I’d been wearing them for other activities, including driving, so felt confident about using them on an undemanding trail in perfectly fine conditions. I suppose I looked through the wrong bit of the lens and momentarily misjudged the lay of the land and its relationship with my feet. It’s the sudden shifts of focus up and down or side to side as you check the terrain beneath your boots, adjust your step for loose stones, admire the few wild flowers beside the path, then look up, lifting your gaze to the contours around you to enjoy the unfolding landscape. So, too much nodding about then and – Smack! Down I went. At least I wasn’t halfway up a craggy slope, needing both hands for the descent.
All this lengthy intro about the unexpected pitfalls of eyewear is perhaps a defence against the other possibility, the unwelcome and, I hope, unlikely evidence of advancing years: poorer concentration, less sure balance, less of the natural agility needed to right myself mid-fall. I don’t think it was any of those things (well, maybe a bit of the latter) but such thoughts creep in these days.
The injury was minor but still unpleasant. As I rolled myself back off my hand I could feel some pain and see that my right-hand pinkie had bent into an unfamiliar angle, the end sticking up skywards from the middle knuckle to form a perfect V-shape. A slight wave of nausea hit me but also an irresistible urge to try to flatten this distorted shape out. It was then that I turned the hand over to find a deep gash on the inside of the finger and a clear view of bone surrounded by blood and torn flesh. Plans of tapas after a mildly energetic and invigorating walk evaporated on the spot.
Instead Jim strode off to bring the car to a nearby road, Natasha enquired of a passing vehicle the whereabouts of the nearest hospital and we set off to the reassuringly named Hospital de Alta Resolución (High Resolution) in the less reassuringly named El Toyo. The Spanish health system is highly rated by people we’ve met, and, in this brief experience, deservedly so. The Alta Resolución lived up to its charmingly literal name. Super-efficient, kind and careful, the staff soon had me x-rayed, anaesthetised, hauled back into alignment, stitched and finally swathed in a splint stretching half way up my forearm so as to restrict any movement in my dislocated digit, now perfectly restored to straight. At least I hope so – I can’t see a thing under layers of gauze and crepe and a clever plastic splint expertly applied by the vivacious Elizabeta, a nurse with a crafty way of telling you to brace yourself for pain and smiling at you as she inflicts it.