"Give me the number 3", he said.
"Is that the size of the needle or the thread", Peter asked?
This is a snippet of the conversation I found myself facing in the middle of the day, recounted from its original Portuguese, after a short scrimmage on the beach. The morning began as just about any other would. Breakfast with friends, then head up to the room to get all buttered up with sunscreen. The requirement of a fair complexion inherited from my Swedish-Irish heritage. Off to the beach by 12:30 for a 1:00 date with friends and a soccer ball. Connor was amped up after the game yesterday and ready to exorcise the loss with some soccer therapy. It was absolutely beautiful and the beach was busy when we met Molly and Cody there with Amy. A quick dip in the ocean was all I needed to get ready for some beach soccer with our small group of about eight. Short sided soccer is always good. Then Cody's big toe introduced itself to the web of my foot between my big toe and second toe. With force. The gash left behind looked like someone took a knife and drove it straight from the front of my foot toward the back slicing the web of my foot wide open. It was remarkably painless and alarming at the same time. I cannot even begin to explain to you how I felt at the moment. Scared. Mad at myself. Disappointed. Wanting the moment back to avoid the carelessness of the accidental situation I found myself facing.
My handle on the language here is non existent with the exception of simple pleasantries. The interchange with the life guard staff at the beach was just a lot of noise as far as I was concerned. With the help of the Chongs we got the wound bound while somebody went to get Peter Stark off the beach. I recall mentioning the faith I have in friends in one of my earlier posts. Today that faith was reaffirmed yet again. The responsibility my friends took to share this burden I was faced with now could not have been more welcome. Peter knew the chances of me getting this dealt with at all were pretty grim and with him I headed back to the Pousada to get my passport and money. I cleaned the wound out one more time. Peter consulted with Joseph and it was determined that the best course would be to go to the public hospital.
On the way to the public hospital Peter gave me fair warning to not expect the American hospital experience. "The walls will be a bit scuffed up", he said "and it'll look a bit older than you're used to". Nevertheless I was thankful for the company and a translator to see me through all this. We arrived there in the taxi. People were flowing out the doors of the Emergency room onto the sidewalk and small parking area. Not a good start from my stand point. Check in was smooth, though, and the wait was much shorter than the line would lead you to believe.
The doctor (as far as I was aware he was a doctor) was a middle aged guy with an even temperament wearing a wrinkled button up shirt and a swept back mop of hair. His tone was even and friendly. Peter and he had an exchange and Lucy the nurse arrived quietly. "Sutura", was all he had to say to her. Lucy was quiet and indifferent toward the gringo on her table as patients wandered in and out of the small office we occupied. Patient privacy was not of primary concern here. At least I was fully clothed. The physician answered questions for several patients while he was waiting for Lucy to finish her prep work. Patients continued coming and going. The patient traffic stopped for a bit while he was actually stitching things up. I appreciated the nice teeth comment. It was probably all too apparent that I needed a bit of humor in my day. Five stitches later Lucy escorted me down the hall for a shot of penicillin and we were on the way. It all took less than a hour from start to finish. The experience was priceless the cost of the experience was the damage to my foot. No money exchanged hands nor would it. Socialized medicine at its best. I don't know what I would think about all this if I had cancer. I might be less than enthusiastic about it then. But for stitches and some penicillin you couldn't have done better, unless you were looking for the beautiful antiseptic setting of a private hospital.
The whole experience has had a restorative effect on me. To go from a huge gash on my foot to all stitched up in less than two and a half hours while in a foreign land was amazing to me. Again, I find myself in debt to Peter for his help. He is a good friend and never gave me even the hint that I was the pain in the ass that I clearly was. I hate to be a burden on people. My wife might argue that a bit, but infringing on another person's day is just not okay. Everyone back at La Magna Rosa inquired about my well being and offered their help as well. I guess no one likes to see a man down.
Life goes on in the morning. With a bit of luck I'd like to be able to play soccer before we head home, but if not worse things have happened. Signing off from Salvador, Brazil wishing you all a quiet evening with family and friends. Know that you will always have more than you need and never have less than you want.