(From 13th January)
This morning I used the last of one of the three remaining eye drops.
(A second bottle wasn’t actually empty, but didn’t gloop much when shaken. It’s difficult to tell how many days worth of drops are left in an opaque 5ml bottle.
I’m in a very small seaside town in the Canaries. I have another 3 days here, followed by a Sunday in Berlin where pretty much everything is shut, except emergency chemists, and I need a prescription for the eye drops I’m supposed to use.
I think I have a problem.
Except I didn’t really.
First stop – phoning the secretary of the eye surgery. The doctor wouldn’t be in again until the next week and as secretary she couldn’t write me a prescription herself. She suggested I just go to a chemist. I couldn’t believe that would work, but I didn’t have much choice but to try. I thanked her and hung up.
Second stop – searching for a chemist. DB and I and wandered down to the beach and along the promenade (where all the shops are) clutching the empty bottles and the hospital letter and looking for chemists. From our evening walks, we knew a couple existed because we’d seen the brightly flashing signs outside their shops, alternately showing the time, date and temperature. We just hadn’t made notes about where there were in relation to our apartment. I asked at the first one we came to. The well (/over*) made up ladies behind the counter said they hadn’t got anything like that and sent me to ‘the English chemist’ at the other end of the town – back the way we’d come and then a bit further. It was apparently opposite Burger King, so obvious we couldn’t miss it.
Off we went.
Third stop – accidental dragon-viewing. After walking several minutes longer than they’d recommended, I spotted a doctors surgery with an English flag in the garden. It was on a side street and there was no Burger King in sight, but I decided it was worth asking anyway. The nurse-in-charge stared at me like I’d just asked her for a passenger flight to Jupiter. There was no way she was going to look at my eyes, write me a prescription or dole out medication. She told me to try my luck with ‘the English chemist’ up the road opposite Burger King….
Fourth stop – finally striking gold…The English chemist’ was almost certainly not English, but he spoke it (and some German) very well, certainly well enough to wish me a speedy recovery and to laugh with me at the idiocy of companies not writing the ingredients on the bottles. Turns out the trade names are different in different countries, even for medicine, which was logical when he pointed it out, but hadn’t occurred to me before.
After a lot of research and rummaging through cupboards and drawers, he pulled out two tiny boxes. I pulled out my purse, awaiting an extortionate bill – a combination of not having a prescription and expecting to pay extra as a non-native. Both eye drops together came to 5,70€. I’m not complaining, I’m just left wondering if Spain is subsidised somehow, or if someone’s making a lot of money out of Germans and Brits. You can’t buy anything useful in a German chemist without a prescription, and you still pay upwards of 5€ per item. I don’t know what it’s like in England anymore, but my Dad says it’s expensive being ill.
On the way out DB noticed what we’d both missed on the way in; directly across the road was the tiniest Burger King I have ever seen. Most ice cream vans are bigger 😉
What could have been a disaster, actually wasn’t – three cheers for good directions (and friendly chemists!)!
* I wouldn’t usually comment on how someone else chooses her make up, but if I can see it while partially blind, I figure it counts as theatre-worthy…