Friday, February 6, 2009

me duelen las orejas

It's amazing the kind of difference a slight change in the weather can make. It's cooled off a bit - probably only 3 or 4 degrees - these past two days, yet as I walk the same crowded, decrepit streets, I feel I can breathe more easily. It could be the refreshing breeze, or it could be the initial shock of the city wearing off. Not entirely, not just yet, but little by little. 

I'm still feeling pretty proud of myself for my successful "mission" yesterday. It was no great accomplishment, to be sure, but in these first few weeks it's the quotidian tasks that are daunting, and one measures progress by how confidently one asks for "un cortado, por favor", and how infrequently one hangs their head and mutters "no entiendo." 

Yesterday, I went to the doctor. 

I caught a cold right before I came to Buenos Aires, and I still have not been feeling entirely better. For some reason - true to my inner child - every time I catch a cold, an ear infection inevitably follows. Even Delfina remarked, "Ear infection? I haven't had one since I was eight." While still at home I went to the doctor, got an antibiotic, and hoped that that would be the end of it. The little help the medication did, however, was quickly undone by my three flights. A sharp pain pierced my ears during take off and landing, and the pressure made me feel as though my head were about to explode. Think Superman in the presence of Kryptonite. Well, I exaggerate, but you get the idea. 

Obviously I survived and slowly my ears have improved - I can actually here people speaking Spanish, though I still can't understand them. But since my ears still didn't feel entirely right, I decided to go to the medical clinic (I had bought health insurance from a private company while still in the States.) 

I found the building easily enough, and upon learning that the receptionist did not speak English, I tried to explain my situation: "Quiero ver un doctor. Me duelen las orejas." I must have sounded like a child, speaking in simple sentences, complaining that my ears were hurting. I was told to go around the corner to a different building, where a woman who spoke English helped me out. I had to wait five minutes to see a doctor, who promptly inspected my ears, wrote me a prescription for an anti-inflammatory drug, and then wished me well. With one beso - and only one in Argentina - I was on my way. Perhaps some people would have thought it odd that exchanges between doctor and patient begin and end with a beso, but to me it signified a more friendly, relaxed atmosphere. She would take care of me. (By 'beso' I mean the peck-on-the-cheek greeting typically associated with France. Does it have a real name?)

The entire process was very easy, even for an Anglophone. Almost suspiciously easy. Ever the pessimist, I'm sort of expecting the medicine to not work. Then again, I wasn't going in there with some rare disease - it was a routine procedure, so maybe that's why I was in and out of there in under half an hour. We'll see how I'm feeling in the next couple of days, but I have to say that for my first experience with a doctor in a foreign country, it wasn't bad. 

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