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Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash

I could see the Tramuntana mountains in which Deià sits from the window of the room I had to myself at Son Espases hospital. For hours, I would sit in my chair, gaze at the Tramuntanas as they changed colour under the usually empty blue sky and feel enormous gratitude that this was the place where I’d had heart surgery.

Before I went into Son Espases, a couple of friends from Deià had told me how well they had been treated. As I waited for a date to have a calcified heart valve replaced, knowing that the surgery would be done at Son Espases was always reassuring.

As it happened, I was rushed into hospital sooner than the surgery had been scheduled for. Keen to get everything over and done with, I wasn’t complaining.

Once in Son Espases hospital, I was amazed by two things.

One was the amount of highly sophisticated, brand new looking, equipment the occasionally unnervingly young doctors had at their fingertips. The other was the sheer number of doctor and nurses on the ward. Perhaps this is because Son Espases is a teaching hospital.

Whatever the reason, being surrounded by young, cheerful, competent people who often looked like they’d spent the previous day at the beach was inspiring as much as it was reassuring. It was a relief when I realised that pretty much every nurse or doctor spoke at least enough English for us to get by. Before going into the hospital, I’d worried that my pretty terrible Spanish would be a problem.

Given that we are in Spain, and I really should speak the language far more fluently than I do, I was not just extremely grateful that everyone spoke English. I also resolved to finally, after 17 or so years of living here, learn Spanish properly.

Inevitably, the food was pretty grim, at least in the beginning. It’s rather odd to have a Spanish dish such as a paella taste of absolutely nothing. Although, obviously, I was on a low salt diet. When I was on the intensive care ward with other people, the food was usually almost cold. But, when I was given my own room, what I was served became much warmer and edible.

Photo by Sammy Williams on Unsplash

Most of all, though, I feel that my 10 days or so at Son Espases hospital were as good as it gets under the circumstances. The heart surgeon gave me a big thumbs up when I first saw him after the surgery. This was part of the general atmosphere of warmth and compassion that is characteristically Spanish.

I will always be grateful to Son Espases hospital and glad that I became a resident of Spain, able to benefit from such excellent treatment.