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Snow & Flem

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

View outside my bedroom window.

The school.

Here’s the translation: it’s February — after the buzz of the end of the first semester, after vacation, it’s been winter for awhile and yet it’s still here.  In that spirit, I recently opened a few Valentine’s cards that had gotten sent back to my family, and which they re-sent in my birthday package, but I had saved for a later date.  And yes, it snowed this morning, then rained, now is snowing again, and it is supposed to continue like this through Sunday.  However it is also true that this weekend was sunny and beautiful, and I enjoyed several long walks outside.

And, astonishingly, this weather is just as normal as February in New England.  However unlike my childhood, when I wake up in Palena, there is no difference in the temperature inside versus outside my house, because I have the kind of wood stove that specializes in cooking rather than heating and doesn’t last through the night; I generally choose restful sleep rather than waking up at four hour intervals to feed the stove.  The funniest part is this doesn’t even bother me that much anymore.  I get dressed quickly, put on my parka, have some tea and oatmeal and out the door!

Just as normal as snow in winter is catching a cold, and I’ve caught a bad one.  I’m happy to say I am definitively on the mend today, but it has been a drippy, flemmy, coughy, glassy-ed few days.  On the upside, my condition offered me a new cultural experience: I went to a Chilean hospital as a patient (check out my receipt).  The visit was normal — I’m fine and I’m giving in to Western medicine — but there were a couple of interesting things.  First of all, I wasn’t charged anything, and I was sent home with cough medicine and three kinds of pills.  I’ve heard of other teachers being seen for free, but I’m not really sure what the deal is.

Second of all, I was seen by a doctor who I am friends with:

Hey, how are you? [cheek kisses]
I’m good, how are you?  When did you and [your wife, also my friend] get back to Palena?
Yesterday.
Nice!  I saw her in Santiago.
What color is the flem?  Green, yellow, orange?
Yellow.
[As writing].  Yeah, she told me you two hung out.
Yeah, it was fun.
Alright, can you just sit up here on the table, I’m going to listen to your lungs.

 

For this genre (mundane) and gravity (minor) of illness, I was happy to be attended by someone I already know and trust, but I can feel how awkward it would be for both of us if it had been something more intimate.  How strange would it be to be naked with a doctor and then have dinner at his house the next weekend!?  I’ve considered this small-town dilemma before, but I’ve never come close to experiencing it until yesterday.

And while there is nothing like being sick to make me want to be eight years old and in the arms of my parents, I have also felt incredibly cared for here.  Cristian, my co-teacher, insisted on “picking me up” [on foot] to go the hospital yesterday, when I was skeptical of the benefit.  Alejandra, another teacher, offered to have me stay at her house.  And Melissa, who I work with here in the Foundation, encouraged my decision not to got to work Monday afternoon, and came up to my room with a lemon-honey infusion, pain-killers, and chocolate.  I sometimes wonder about how “profound” my friendships are here, or what the point is anyway if I’m leaving in four months (AH), but this week, I’ve forgotten those worries and just let myself receive.  I hope I am able to give as generously when it is my turn.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 4:54 pm

    Feel better Margaret!

  2. Wednesday, August 10, 2011 5:26 pm

    Thanks Kate!

  3. Jane Woodman permalink
    Wednesday, August 10, 2011 9:07 pm

    So glad for the TLC coming your way… in all it’s forms. Get better and better each little moment, xo

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