Barcelona and Back Pain

Thursday February 28- We had Thursday off of classes because of the Day of Andalucía (the region encompassing Granada) so we woke up at 6:00 to catch an early flight to Barcelona (all 20 or so of us in the program).

At first, I surprised myself by being packed and ready minutes before I had planned, despite the sleep-deprecation blur. But as soon as I got out to the bus stop in front of my house, I realized it was not nearly enough.

Due to the holiday, most likely, it wasn’t running until about an hour later. And I was a 25 minute walk from the connecting airport bus… which left in 10-15 minutes.

I would also like to preface this by saying the distance from the center also manifests itself in a lack of taxis… so either way I had to make it up, in good time. The difference would be if I had to pay €30 or €3.

So, it’s before 7 am, relatively dark, the only people out are those coming back from a night out. And I’m jogging down the sidewalk with my duffel and backpack watching the minutes tick by and realizing, as the sweat starts accumulating on my lower back, that there is no way I’m going to make it.

So I start walking for about 5 minutes, still not to the city center, when a green beacon of hope turns the corner. I flag down the taxi and stumble in, eliciting a rather strange (and deserved) look from the taxi driver. And end up at the airport 20 minutes before everyone else, super glad I ran and sweated and stressed (not).

Then, to make things better, our flight was delayed 2 hours. The airline was nice enough to give us a voucher for some food, but it was hard to think that we could have slept in a lot longer had we known.

Finally in Barcelona, the University held a short lecture for us on Cataluña independence before a Swarthmore professor took the three of us from Swat in the program out to lunch along with another girl who was studying in Barcelona (also from Swat).

Afterwards we walked around, in vintage stores and a market that had cute chocolates and fruit and other things. Next, we joined with the Barcelona students (different branch of the same abroad program) and got tapas and ice cream together before (finally) bedtime.

The only problem was my lingering back discomfort morphed into full on pain, making it hard for me to sit down, walk, or stand up.


Friday March 1- The breakfast buffet was probably one of the best I’ve ever had. From ripe, juicy pears to eggs to chocolate croissants (not for me, obviously 😦 ), there was so much to eat and all of it amazing.

But… I was at the point where my roommate had to help me stand up and sit down and I couldn’t go for very long without needing to be horizontal. So I went to the Farmacia (which is cool because pharmacists in Spain act a lot like doctors except for things like antibiotics, injections, etc) and they said to try a pain cream, pain meds, and a heating pad. So I put all these things to use and stayed in the hotel (watching Project Runway) while the others visited La Sagrada Familia Church and the Picasso Museum.

I’d been to Barcelona before and had seen what I wanted to, so it wasn’t heartbreaking to have to rest and watch TV.  For lunch I went to a coffee shop right next to the hotel and had super juicy strawberries (Spain does fruit sooo well), the middle of a sandwich, tea, and ice cream.

When some of the group had returned, we got hot chocolate and sat in the lobby, but my back kept getting more and more painful until I decided I needed to see a doctor.

The director took me, in taxi, to the place the hotel recommended, which ended up being for worker’s comp only, so we took another taxi to another hospital and checked into the Urgency room.

The first bad sign was that they spelled my last name wrong (classic) and we were waiting for 30 minutes despite the board saying there were (0) other people waiting. The doctor finally invited us in, not getting up out of his chair.

Him: “Sit down.”

Me: “I physically can’t.”

Him, after rolling his eyes, motioned with one finger for me to turn around and bend over, barely giving any instruction.

He said (keep in mind this is in Spanish), “Ok I’m going to inject you.”

Me: “Um why?”

Him: “You don’t want me to?”

Me; “No I want to know why.”

Him: “Because it’ll help with the pain, obviously.”

Me: “Ok but what are the side effects?”

Him: “There are none.” Leaves the room.

The director and I are unsure if we should follow him or not. We do, but as we catch up to him, he says, “you didn’t get all your stuff?”

The director runs back while I stay with him.

Him: “Sit down.”

Me: “I still can’t. Can I lie down?”

Him: grunts, doesn’t change the chair to flat, goes over to the nurse. “Set up (insert drug name because I didn’t hear what it was) to be given intravenously.

Me: “What drugs are they? Why intravenously instead of locally.”

Him: says them quickly and goes to turn away, meanwhile the nurse is nice enough to write them down.

Me: “What are the side effects?” (Since he said before there weren’t any)

Him: “Obviously there are side effects, its a medicine.”

Me: “So what are they??”

Him: “Like nausea and dizziness, things like that.”

The director: “Ok we are leaving. This is not happening.”

Me: nodding but also crying, because I don’t want to have to do this whole process over and bc I’m in a lot of pain.

At this point the doctor has already left the room. The nurse whispers to us that he can have another doctor look at me so ushers us into a back room. The female doctor is incredibly nice, coming up with a similar diagnosis but deciding to inject something locally. She actually answers my questions and is caring. As she goes to get the shot, the male doctor barges in demanding to know why we were talking about malpractice (we weren’t). So he goes on a rant with the director about how great of a doctor he is and how he did everything right despite us saying he had no bedside manner or friendliness.

This time we really are leaving because he won’t leave the room, so Im limping down the hall, clinging to the wall so I can walk as he’s still yelling. The female doctor comes back out right then and is, rightfully, mad. She ushers is into a room right next to where we are and closes it, gets the nurse to do the injection, and then we leave, with both of them telling us that we can report him on the way out.

We get the form and ask the front desk who the doctor is (since we know the first name) and he says he has to call back to check (which is weird. Shouldn’t he know the doctors that work there?) so we wait until he gets the name and we leave before the doctor can come back out and do who knows what.

The program directors are nice enough to take me out to dinner (gf noodles) near the hotel and help me walk back to my room.

I go home and sleep and the next day, feeling a lot better after the injection, i hang out in the hotel room while the directors file the report.

For lunch I get GF crepes with strawberries and chocolate. For dinner, I go with one of the other students who didn’t go to the nightly flamenco show to get burgers and fries.

The next morning we wake up at 7:30 to get to the flight

 I sleep most of the way but I definitely feel it in my back that I’ve been sitting an entire plane ride when it’s done.

I don’t have a ton of pictures (as exciting and interesting as a hotel room is, but here are some I took and some I was sent 🙂

At the vintage store, there was a lot of US sports team apparel which was weird. Given the price it wasn’t worth the novelty either, at least not for us.

La Boqueria market- where we got shaped chocolates and looked at a lot of other cool foods.

Posters for Carnival- like Halloween but before lent- a chance I guess to sin before repenting?

Two cute chocolates from the market- a duck and a hedgehog.

Ice cream round 1. Super great for back/any pain. (Not) scientifically proven.

At the hospital yayyyy

GF noodles with mushrooms.

Gf crepes with strawberries and chocolate.

Ice cream round 2.

Pictures from other people on the trip, including Gaudí, the Sagrada Familia Church, and Picasso Museum.

One thought on “Barcelona and Back Pain

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s