Tuesday, March 8, 2011

An "Excercise" in Frustration

For those of you who exercise on a regular basis, you know how easily one can fall off the wagon and how difficult it is to jump back on to it.  Before we moved to Barcelona I was pretty good about going to the gym, not as great as I could have been but I would go on a regular basis and I was running at least a mile or two every morning up until we left. 

When we moved here last January I was unable to join the gym because the gym's here do not have daycares and I had Liam home with me for the first 9 months we were here.  I probably could have gone at night after Josh got home but honestly, I'm a morning gym goer - you can't pay me enough to go at night.  To make up for my lack of a gym I was running on occassion on the weekends.  However, I've had knee problems off and on and found that it was really causing me more pain than gain by running on the streets and hills here without having built up the muscles around my knee to better support it.

Finally came the fall when the kids started school and I was ready to join the gym.  But I couldn't bring myself to do it.  Why?  Once again, for the millionth time, I let the language get in my way.  But when a friend of ours died of a heart attack in October I decided to say screw the language and joined the following business day that the gym was open.  Ahhhh, it felt good to be back!  And most of all, it felt good to hop on that treadmill and start working that knee little by little on a flat, evenly paced surface. 

In the last 6 months I've been running 3-4 times per week at an average of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) each time I run with the occassional 5 mile distance run thrown in.  It's a great feeling and sense of accomplishment to do this on a regular basis.  And what has helped to motivate me is my friend Sue who is back in the US.  Without her and the Nikerunning website I probably wouldn't have pushed myself so much and so I'm so happy that she's helped me to get back on track.  We've been doing some challenges on the Nike site and every morning when I just don't feel like going to the gym or going for a run outside I think, "I can't let Sue down".  Now realistically I know Sue is never going to be upset about me not doing a run or doing my part in the competition - it's an online competition with no reward except the pride of having completed the task (ideally in a winning position).  But regardless of this, it is motivation for me to get out there and get my exercise on! 

Where does the frustration come in you are probably thinking by now.. So much to my dismay, over the last 6 weeks I've been having some pain in my lower left leg.  It started off slow - maybe the size of a dime and was more of an ache.  But over the last few weeks the pain has grown in size and intensity.  It truly broke my heart last week to tell myself that I needed to take a break - for a week - and see what happens.  Still not feeling 100%, I went running yesterday.  It was a big mistake on my part.  I barely made it the 5k before I could barely move another muscle. 

And so that brings us to today, my exercise in frustration.  It was time to pay the piper... time to go to the ... doctor!  Yes, the doctor.  I've only been once here and it wasn't an experience that I want to do again.  The kids have a pediatrician here that speaks English that they see every 6 months, but me, nope, don't have a doctor here.  I did all my annual exams when I was home in October and unfortunately have had to switch my dentist appts from twice a year to now once a year when I go home.  I've been praying and avoiding the thought of having to find a doctor here.

First off, we have global insurance.  NO ONE takes it here.  NO ONE.  We pay the bill and then submit it to insurance and then are reimbursed.  A major pain in the ass.  Thankfully we are getting local insurance in the next few weeks which we will be able to use in conjunction with our global one.  But I couldn't wait a few more weeks for my new and shiny insurance card - I decided that today would be the day I would go to the doctor. 

The kids' bus stop is in front of a clinic here.  Since I don't have my own primary care here I figured I would just go to the clinic which other friends have raved about here (not this particular one, but the clinic system here).  I waited in line this morning, told the person who showed up after me "soy ultima" (I am the last one) so they would know where they were in line.  Then at 8AM when the doors opened, went to the information desk (there was really no point in doing the ultima thing as everyone dispersed upon the doors opening but I see them do it every morning so figured there was a reason for it) where they gave me the impression that my insurance would be taken and to go to the first floor.

Upon arrival at the first floor I took a number (again, why are these people asking who is last when it really doesn't matter) and waited my turn to meet with the receptionist.  I told her I was having leg pain and she asked for my insurance card.  Here is where some of my frustration comes in.  They won't take it.  And after about 5 mins of back and forth and trying to understand her I get that she needs me to pay up front.  That's fine... I hand her my credit card.  But ah no, your credit is no good here my friend... cash only.  So she takes all my info and tells me to go to the ATM down the street and come back with my 53.90 in cash.  Ok, off I go. 

I'm back less than 10 mins later and give her 60.00.  She looks at me like I've got two heads and asks if I have the 3.00.  Uh, nope the ATM doesn't give me singles.  I've got the 90 cents in change but don't have a 10 or 3 singles.  This gives her some concern but she takes my money and tells me she will be back.  Seriously, they can't take my credit card but they can take cash but don't have change???  Really?  Finally she comes back with my change and proceeds to give me my papers with my receipt, etc.  She directs me down the hall and says that someone will call my name around 9.

There is a huge line and I'm not sure if I'm supposed to wait in it.  I have a little piece of paper with some numbers on it - 11-03-08.  I don't realize it's the date until later... duh!  Thankfully the receptionist comes out and points me to a seat and says that the line is for those looking to have blood drawn.  Whew, that's a long line and I'm glad I don't need to stand there and wait.

I wait about 40 mins (which is very unusual from what I've found here) and finally a doctor calls my name.  She firsts asks my my primary care doctor here and when I tell her I don't have a doctor she gives me a look that makes me feel like a scolded child - if I could have I would have communicated to her that yes, I do have doctors and I've seen them in the last 6 months, they just happened to be in the USA - instead I hang my head in shame and then I do my best in my Spanish to tell her what the problem is.  I "think" I've gotten my point across and then she tells me she's going to send me down the hall to another doctor that speaks better English than she does.  While I appreciate that, it means that I didn't communicate as well as I had envisioned.  I get down the hall and the doctor's English is about that of my Spanish but we work it out.

In the end, my "exercise" in frustration is that I now cannot exercise.  He did not explain to my understanding exactly what is wrong but I think the gist is that it's a pulled muscle or something that is getting worse because I keep using it.  So no running for AT LEAST 15 days and only minimal walking (which should be a challenge since I have no car here and walk everywhere).  After all my hard work and pushing myself to continue to get improve, I've actually hindered myself in a way because I've now got to stop cold turkey and wait this out.  It's frustrating and I can only hope that I can regain that momentum when my 15 days is up!  And during my 15 days sabbatical, I'm on a mission to find a doctor who speaks English!


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