Thursday, 19 March 2015

Some of the most unexpected circumstances in which to Learn a Language.....

The title for todays post is slightly unusual due to the fact that the past week has been a little out of the ordinary and very dysfunctional to say the least! The most regular readers among you will know that my adventures abroad are never boring but you will also know that I like to get through the bad times by looking back on them as being productive and interesting experiences. Therefore, even spending almost two days in hospital and having two trips in an ambulance can be turned from something very unpleasant to a challenging language experience in my eyes! So although last week was pretty awful in all honesty, I am going to tell you all about how I managed to get by/communicate in a Spanish hospital and get through feeling very unwell so far away from home.

After an exciting weekend of travelling in Rhonda and Cordoba, you can probably imagine how hard it was to get out of bed on the Monday morning due to my severe lack of energy. In fact, little did I know that this was possibly more than just fatigue from mountain climbing in Rhonda! It all came to light like this.....

Once I had done the daily five and a half hour morning session at work, I set off to the language school in which I study Spanish in order to have one of my weekly classes. I was absolutely fine throughout the duration of the class but as soon as I stood up to leave at the end, I started to feel quite unwell. In fact, I thought that it was probably down to low blood sugar levels so I started to head towards Starbucks as it was the closest place in which I could get food. However, unfortunately, I did not make it to the till in Starbucks as the dizziness became so bad that I blacked out and collapsed before I had time to choose what I wanted to eat and drink. What seemed like quite a while later, I remember being surrounded by strangers who were all talking to me and asking me questions in Spanish. As you can imagine, this was slightly daunting as I understood what they were saying but was not able to respond in a big way due to the fact that I was not completely conscious and it was all in a foreign language. However, I somehow managed to tell them that I felt dizzy which I didn't even realize I could say! In fact, I have made note of all of the medical vocabulary on the Spanish vocab page of the blog that I either managed to come out with or learnt over the few days when I was unwell so please feel free to have a look at that if you fancy learning some extremely useful vocabulary. When I was in Starbucks, a woman who was in there phoned one of my old work colleagues for me as I did not have anybody with me. Even though she was not actually in Sevilla that day, she did contact other people who I used to work with. As a result of this, I had somebody to go in the ambulance with me which made it a slightly less stressful experience as I think it would be horrible to be in an ambulance alone let alone when you are unable to communicate fully due to a language barrier. 

When I was in hospital that evening, I was very lucky to have a friend with me but the problem was that neither of us spoke very much Spanish at all. For this reason, I had to push myself to my language limits in order to explain to nurses and doctors what had happened, how long I blacked out for, if I had any form of medical history that they needed to know about, and how I was feeling at the time. I was very stressed because I did not know whether I was explaining things well and if I was understanding everything correctly. However, I kept my wits about me and tried to relax as much as possible as I knew that panicking would not get me anywhere.

Later that evening I was discharged from the hospital so went home with two friends who very kindly made sure that I didn't have to walk and that I was not alone. However, during the night when I was in bed, I started to deteriorate again as I began to vomit and had a very very bad headache. This was very worrying as I was not sure whether I had hit my head or how hard I had hit my head when I collapsed in Starbucks earlier that day but I knew that I was very likely vomiting due to a blow on the head. After vomiting three or four times (sorry to share that with you!) I managed to go back to sleep for a couple of hours before morning came. However, as soon as I woke up I looked up the symptoms of a head injury on the internet and as vomiting and nausea were one of them I decided to go back to the hospital due to the fact that I had been given a day off work to recover from the day before. However, I did not quite make it to the hospital as the nausea returned whilst I was on a bus and I had to get off early in order to get some fresh air and to be sick. All I remember about getting off the bus was everything spinning around. Before I knew it I had blacked out again so this feeling did not last for very long.

When I woke up this time, the situation was very similar to the day before as a group of people were crowded around me and had previously called an ambulance. It was very hot that day and I remember coming round more when a lady tipped some water over my head to cool me down. However, my memory of this part of the day if quite limited. Once I got to the hospital, I started to panic big time as I realized that I was in a different hospital to the one that I had been in the day before. Again, there were lots of people rushing around and I was just lying on a bed in the middle of a busy corridor. However, this did not last long as a doctor quickly came over and took me into a room where I had to show my passport as I had not managed to tell anybody who I was. I was then checked over briefly by two nurses (blood sugar, blood pressure, and heart beat) before be taken through a number of areas of Urgencias (A and E) to have Xrays, Urine samples taken, and blood tests. After all of this I was put onto a drip and left for a couple of hours in order to stay hydrated as it was a very hot day (approximately 28 degrees Celsius). I was then lying on a bed in this crowded room for about five hours until I was called to have an ECG and an appointment with a doctor to have a diagnosis made. In this time, I managed to get in contact with a couple of my current and previous work colleagues who kept my spirits up by messaging me, reassuring me, and letting me know that they would come to the hospital once they had finished work to see me. I am so grateful to them for this as it was very scary being alone in a foreign hospital and it made the world of difference having all three of them there with me at different times and there to take me home later that evening.

I was in hospital that day for a total of 11 hours which was not very pleasant at all but it was worth it for the reason that I was told why I fainted the first time (nothing serious!) and that the second time round it had been triggered by mild concussion and possibly dehydration as a result of vomiting during the night. I was extremely relieved to leave the hospital with two of my friends as it had been a very exhausting and distressing experience that I was pleased to get to the end of. I am now on medication and am absolutely fine so my year abroad is once again on track! It has been nice to get back to normal this week and to be able to look forward to my trip to Morocco this weekend! The travelling never stops with me!

So it has been a bit of a different week as being taken to hospital in an ambulance two times in the space of 24 hours is not exactly an experience that I would have imagined to have on my year abroad. However, I am extremely grateful to all of the people here who helped me get through it and cope with being isolated in my room for two days afterwards. Not much fun but the main thing is that I am back on my feet again now!

So tomorrow I am off to Africa for the weekend so the next post will definitely be about that :) I will make sure I take plenty of pictures and will no doubt have lots of things to tell you about when I get back!

Hasta Luego!

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