Monday, April 23, 2012

Oh what a Pain! Dolores, my gall stone!!

By the way "dolor" is Spanish for pain so that is why my gallstone is named "Dolores" just in case you wondered!  Now touch wood my health has been pretty good since moving to Spain!  My thyroid problem, which I suffer from now and then, due to my sarcoidosis does occasionally rear it's ugly head, but it is much easier to deal with when life is not so stressful.  Anyway, one evening we were sitting watching the television around 10 ish having eaten fairly late, as per usual, and I felt at first, blooming uncomfortable.  Within minutes this turned to ... ouch that hurts to ....OHHHHHH bloody hell!!!!!  You catch my drift?  Strange pain, strange place too.  Not in the stomach, but up under my right boobydoo.  To be honest it got so severe, had it been more central or slightly more to the left, I would have been even more worried!

I have to admit, if I'm not feeling well, I like to be on my own, and the last thing I want is anyone fussing around me.  So when I started to feel a little queasy I sneaked off to the toilet and hoped Alan would n't notice.  After I had gone for a few minutes he called out to see if I was ok, so I had to admit, I felt dreadful.  The pain was very strong, it rather reminded me of the pain I felt when I had an intestinal hernia, many years ago.  This was n't your usual tummy ache!  I was hot and cold, horribly clammy, and felt very sick, as well as in pain.  I think I stayed in the bathroom for about half an hour, then we tried the various extremely weak medicines that we had, e.g. milk of magnesia, rennies and a glass of andrews liver salts.  The pain lasted probably about 2 hours that first time, but the pain was pretty severe! Eventually I got into bed and rolled around a little, and luckily at some point managed to get to sleep.  I have to admit it did scare me a little.  I knew something was going on inside my body and I did n't know what!

Over the next couple of months I had the same pain again, always at night, always in the same place, although these other times, the pain lasted longer possibly 4 - 6 hours although not quite as severe as the first time.  I did n't know what to do.  Our minimal Spanish makes it difficult to discuss things with our doctor, although he is charming and polite, it is just difficult, however if I had been in England I would have gone after the first episode.  Well by the time we got to March, the pain was coming every 6 or 7 days.  I knew at some point I would have to bite the bullet and make an appointment.  I needed to know what was going on!

Well a week later, a Wednesday night, I woke up with the pain again!  I could n't have that pain on a Wednesday night, Wednesday night is the night before Thursday, and therefore means getting up at 7.30 to take a zumba class, at 9.30 in the morning.... no I just could n't have the pain.  I tried and tried to ignore it, and I couldn't, it just got stronger and stronger!  I tossed and turned in the bed, although trying to move slowly so not to wake Alan up.  If he woke up, and I told him, it would make it even more real.  That could n't happen, I had a class to take in the morning.  As the pain got stronger it took me back to being a teenager when I had my hernia (for years, before it was diagnosed and operated on) My mum would sit with me, and I wanted her there with me at that time.  You always want your mum when you are not well, don't you?  I began to cry quietly.  I think I cried partly because of the pain, and partly because I was a little scared, and I WANTED MY MUM!

I guess I did a little sob which woke Alan up, he said "Are you ok?"  I said "Err yes!" he said "Are you crying?"  I said "Errrr sniff, sob!  Nooooo!"  At that point he put on the light and said "Oh God, look at the state of you!"  I know he meant it kindly haha!  Well the pain was pretty bad, but I tried to relax, again knowing that somehow I was going to have to take a class in the morning!  As the hours went on, and dawn began to break, I realised there was no way I could do the class.  I continued to roll around the bed and grab my side until I felt my nails dig into my skin, then we realised I would have to stay in bed whilst Alan went to the hall to explain to my ladies.

It was decided that Alan would also do the shopping on the way home, as it is half an hour to the shops from where we live, so we usually do it whilst we are already in town.  I was sure I would be feeling better in an hour or so.  The pain had started around 2am and it was now 9am, it would stop soon!  However after Alan left, I felt even worse.  As I was home alone  decided to allow myself to cry like a spoilt child, and even sob really loudly if I wanted to.... nope that did n't even help!  As time went on I was even aware I was making funny little noises, almost like being in labour.  Although at least with contractions you have a break in between.  This pain seems to have waves, but it was there constantly.  Alan got home around 11.30am and he was shocked to see me looking no better, probably worse after my spoilt child like sobbing!!  He lay on the bed with me and said "I don't know what to do!"

Now in case there was any doubt Alan is a man, and men rarely go to the doctor.  He never has womens problems to get advice for, and he does n't have children, he just plays big brother if and when it's necessary to my two.  So he has never done the... phoning a doctor in a panic about a baby worry.  I had to spell it out to him and said, "Alan if the tables were turned, and you had been in bed rolling around in rather a lot of pain  for 10 hours, I WOULD TAKE YOU TO THE DOCTOR!"  He said "Oh ok, do you think we should go?" I said firmly... YES!  We tried to get a message to our Spanish friend to meet us at the doctor for translating help, however he was out.  Next try, our good mates Tim and Susi.  Tim dropped everything immediately, bless him, and met us outside the medical centre. 

Sorry this is going on a bit.......

We took the journey slowly as it's not a great track if you are feeling delicate, and we arrived at the medical centre.  I got out of the car with Tim's help and shuffled to the door.  I would say bent over like an 80 year old, although what the olive oil and fresh fruit and veg seems to keep them pretty upright until at least 90 here!  I shuffled in, still clutching my side and Alan booked me in.  We were told to go to a particular room, and just as I was about to walk in we spotted a gentleman that drives up out track most days, as we are walking the dogs, often with a trailer full of olives or wood.  He is also one of the local paramedics, we have seen him in town, in the uniform.  He greeted us in the normal way, hands outstretched mouth drooping down at the sides and said with concern "Que pasa?" He started to tell the nurse in the room we were neighbours in the campo, and we had alpacas!

After hearing all about us from our "neighbour" the nurse checked my details, and realised my doctor was still in the medical centre, so in came Dr. Jose Maria Montañe.  The name rather gives the idea of someone tall dark and handsome, sadly no, he is probably in his mid to late 50's and short, grey haired and possibly likes his olive oil, more importantly he is also extremely polite and kind.  He greeted me with a handshake and a comforting arm on the shoulder.  He asked me simply where the pain was, and asked me to lay on the bed.  The best way I can decribe how he diagnosed my condition, was to imagine my body was a dart board, he got the bulls eye with his index finger, first time!  My reflexes made me completely contract and I'm embarrassed to say, even give a little yelp... just a wee bit!  After the one finger diagnoses he spoke to Alan, and told him straight away I had gallstones.  He then continued examining me, and told the nurse to  give me an injection in the bum, YOUCH, to prepare me for the journey....... TO HOSPITAL!!!  He insisted I went in an ambulance, and also insisted Alan went with me in the ambulance too!

We had to wait a little while as an ambulance was brought from the state of the art Reina Sofia University hospital in Cordoba.  At first the paramedic wanted to me to lie on the bed, but I was n't having any of that.  I'm not a great traveller on a normal day.  So after a while he allowed me to sit on a seat, in the back.  Apparantly we even had the flashers on... how exciting!!!  They signed me in, and it was then over 12 hours since the pain started, and I was aware I was feeling heaps better, the pain in fact had almost completely gone.  I really did n't know if I was pleased or not.  The doctor had wanted me to have an ultrasound, although I'm not sure what would happen after that, I guess that would depend on what they found!

Sorry this really is going on and on, and on, but I'm nearly finished promise!

Well surprise surprise the first person we see in the "waiting to be seen room"  is the manager of our local post office, Juan.  Who is there with his mum.  He very kindly asked if there was anything he could do to help, as he speaks a little English, how lovely!  We were fine, and just waited with the other patients and family members.  Eventually my name was called and we were told to go to a specific room number.  There we were met by two young nurses, and I have to admit it all went a little down hill from there haha!  It was rather similar to an English sketch show where they more she asked us questions we didn't understand, they louder they got!!!  "LORNA, SANGRE OOOOKKKKKK!" (blood ok!)  LORNA, TEMPERATURA OOOOOKKKKKKKK!   Yes I was already feeling so much better, although sadly it meant I did n't get my ultrasound!  At least I was given my notes and told that when it happens again, to go straight there, so that's good.

Ok, now to get home!  As the ambulance had brought us, which we were told by pain of death we both had to be on, we then had to get home.  So we waited for the ambulance that had  been arranged for our journey back... and we waited.... and we waited!  After an hour we asked at the reception desk it it had definitely been booked for us, and yes they knew we were waiting, however apparently it was an emergency to get me to hospital, however it was not an emergency to get us back home.... ok I guess that's true.  It did however mean we would have to wait another two hours for an ambulance.    So we made a phone call, and good ole Tim once again came to the rescue, who drove three quarters of an hour to pick us us, and then took us back to our car in Montoro.  Hoooray for great friends!!!!!

Well since that hospital visit, we have been eating our main meal during the day, and a little something in the evening, and I am leaning heavily on a wooden table as I say "touch wood" no problems since then!  Long may that continue!!!   

No photos of me doubled up in pain so here is a photo of the hospital haha!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Montoro Carnival Time

Is the UK the only place that doesn't celebrate the carnival weekend, like the rest of Europe seem to?   We have heard of friends in France and also Germany that also seem to celebrate at the same time.  We have absolutely no idea what this is all about.... another strange tradition!  We have seen fancy dress outfits in the shops now for weeks, suitable for babies, up to adults.  There are posters about it all over town, and my zumba ladies are even bringing in photos of their fancy dress they are wearing.  Errr one dressing up as a mobile phone, very odd!!!  We got on our glad rags, and organised with our friends Pat and Pedro to come along too, then come back with us and stay over.  

Well what a shock, I would say we were most definitely in the minority of people not dressed up, in fact we looked completely out of place.  One of the most noticeable things was that people were not individually dressed up, they were in groups.  I guess people that worked together, played football together, groups of teenagers, either good friends or possible groups from a school class, were all themed together.  Simply amazing!  I know I harp on about it, however once again the drinking culture thatwe see so often in England, was not evident here.  Of course they drink, most Spanish drink, they certainly laugh at Alan because he doesn't drink OR SMOKE, they wonder what exactly he does do! Everyone simply has a great time!  Once again the photos speak much louder than words!

Even in the very religious town of Montoro, 
they will pray thanks to the Lord for their vino!

 My very favourite "MOP HEADS"

How gorgeous!

Yes cigarettes, in a pack!

What a cutie, obviously I asked!

Captain Salami!

Spot the little clown in the corner

All ladies!!!

Anyone for a bud?

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Alpaca Friends get together at long last!

Our alpaca maties are pretty spread about, and the nearest distance to travel to visit our alpaca friends is around 2 hours.  That's to David and Di's in the stunning El Torcal region of Andalucia.  In actual fact as we drove down towards the Malaga province there was snow on the mountains!  It was so lovely to see our friends, David & Di, Mike & Linda, and Jane & Juli, it had certainly been a while, possibly a year since our last get together!  We whipped through the agenda, and built up our enthusiasm again, for a few months, and then relaxed and chatted with our great friends.

Us alpaca owners have had a pretty tough time in Andalucia, and we welcome the chance to get together, air any worries and concerns, which we of course all have.  It is great to be able to supprt each other, put the world to rights, and then enjoy each others company, usually with a bottle of vino, or 2... ok or more!

David and Di, have a wonderful home, which like us, they rent out for holidays.  They have a wonderful menagarie of pets, alpacas, donkeys, dogs, cats, chickens and pea fowl, and the most handsome turkey I have ever seen!  After we took our business hats off we wandered out to enjoy their animals

Snow on the mountains heading towards Malaga.  Maybe seeing the amount of traffic on the motorway will remind my kids why I'm so jumpy on the motorways in England!!!

Alan with the donkeys

 How handsome is he!

Sneaky kiss?

Great view, great mates!

Play time for two of the dogs!

We had a lovely day, thanks everyone!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Cordoba Medieval Market

Every year in Cordoba they have a medieval market, great stalls, and great fun!  We even had the fab fortune to meet a lovely lady from Germany, who had been living in Seville for many years and she did spinning ...... no not the static bike, frantic exercise pain inducing type, but on a good old fashioned spinning wheel.  We had a good chat and exchanged email addresses and promised to be in touch with each other to chat about the spinning of our alpaca fleece.

Well the best well to feel the atmosphere of the medieval market is by photos........... Enjoy!

Cheese Stall

The beautiful Plaza de la Corredera, Cordoba 

The Witch Doctor!

Hmm yes that's a rat!

Barbeque Anyone?

Mmmmm Paella!

Monday, April 16, 2012

Alpaca blood tests

Well it was that time of year we all dread, and I'm sure we can count our vet Andres as one of the "dreadies" also!  The date was planned for the testing of TB and brucellosis, plus the annual jabs for the dogs too.  As the two mastines suffer with terrible travel sickness.... not that we can even get them into the car in the first place, Andres comes and does it all in one go, well it all takes quite a lot of goes really!

Leading up to the dreaded day we make the most of alpaca cuddling, kissing and smelling (ooooh they smell lovely).  Well ok that's just me then!  We even make the noise like clippers to try and prepare them for the real thing.  Sadly nothing can really prepare them for the real thing.  I'm not sure if they recognise Andres, or if it is just his shaving equipment is louder than the one we try and emulate, but the majority of our alpacas leap about more like blooming kangaroo's.

We began with the boys and, well all alpaca owners know how difficult it can be to get a needle in their teeny weeny veins, and most of them took a few attempts.  Andres had his nephew with him to assist.  He is in his last year at the Cordoba Vetinary College in Cordoba.  I'm pretty sure he will not be advertising his services for alpaca owners unless he really has too.  Poor guy got kicked quite a few times.  To be fair the alpacas were not purposely kicking him, however the shaver Andres was using, often tickled the backs of the alpacas legs, so their reaction was to kick.  Cor I bet he had some bruises!!!

Slowly we got through the alpacas, the girls were much better behaved I must add, so now it was time for the dogs.  Most the dogs are extremely pleased to see anyone, and even Andres.  Sadly though not our Arthur, one of the mastines. Last year was terrible, when he is on his back legs he reaches nearly 6 foot tall, but he ran and hid like a baby, when he saw him.  I think he has flash backs of his castration that took place in our apartment just a couple of years ago!  Andres did try again to give him his injections, but he just gets so nervous and upset Andres allows Alan to do it, and he is fine with that.

Thank goodness that's over for a while!

Andres favourite alpaca, Cassandra

And his nightmare, the handsome Arthur!