A couple of weeks ago, I developed a little dry patch on my elbow. It wasn’t painful, just a bit itchy. I blame Berlin’s insanely hard water for this. However, I only have myself to blame when it comes to what happened next. I found some sort of cream in a drawer and rubbed a bit in before going to bed. When I woke up, I looked around the room for the bowl of acid someone must have dipped my elbow in while I was sleeping.
My fairly innocuous dry patch, about the size of a one cent coin, had turned into an angry, seeping, bloody, open wound. I did not think this was good.
Mammy O’Grady has always sworn that salt and water can cure pretty much anything (“Got leprosy?” “No problem, put a bit of salt and water on yourself and you’ll be grand…”) so I decided to follow her advice. Unsurprisingly, my elbow did not like this much. I decided to leave it uncovered so it could heal naturally and went about my business.
Me: Umm, I’ve done something a bit stupid.
I showed him the offending elbow.
Colin: Sweet Jesus! F***! What the bloody hell is that?! Did you burn yourself?
Me: Nah, I had a little patch of dry skin so I put some cream on it. My elbow disagreed with this course of action.
Colin: Dear God, it looks like a burn. Go to a doctor, woman!
Me: Nah, it’ll be fine. I’ll get some aloe vera tomorrow. That should calm it down a bit. ‘Allo, Vera!
Colin: But, but, it’s all fluffy…
Me: Yeah, I decided to leave it uncovered so it could heal naturally in the fresh air – under my jumper and coat.
Colin: But the fluff…
Over the following couple of weeks (yes, weeks. I know…), my elbow and I embarked on a voyage of discovery. Every morning, I’d wake up to find out what it had morphed into overnight. Scabbing, leaking, bleeding, peeling, cracking – my elbow developed quite a repertoire of repulsiveness. When it reached the point where I could hardly bend my arm, I decided it was probably time to see a doctor after all.
Just before 8 a.m., I trotted the ten seconds down the street it takes to reach the closest one. Despite the ungodly hour, this is Germany so there were already six or seven people ahead of me. I sat down to wait, wondering why a random baby beamed at me and jigged up and down every time I looked at him. Guess it’s just the effect I have on men of all ages…
After an hour, Frau O’Grady was called. I didn’t think there was much point in trying to explain my stupidity so I just whipped out my elbow there and then.
After recoiling in horror only a little, he declared that it was probably infected. I agreed.
Doc: Funny, you’re the second Irish person I’ve had in here today. For weeks on end, no Irish people, then two of you show up on the same morning.
Me: We’re like buses.
He prescribed me some cream and large, sterile wound dressings and I was good to go. I was to put some cream and a new dressing on it each day over the weekend and be back in his surgery at 9 a.m. on Monday morning to check what mischief my elbow had got up to in the meantime.
Prescription in hand, I strolled over to the chemist’s across the street. My eyes popped a bit when I saw the total on the display but I assumed that it was a leftover from the previous customer. There’s no way a bit of cream and some plasters could cost over €78, right?
Thinking I might have to go back to the doctor for a newly-formed heart condition, I paid up. Grudgingly. The worst part was that the cream was only €4 which meant that the stupid dressings were almost €75. With 25 of them in the pack, that works out at almost €3 a plaster.
The next morning, after showering, I put the first diamond-encrusted dressing on my (now much happier) elbow. I bent my arm to test it and it fell off. I threw €3 in the bin and put on another one.
With my elbow now healing nicely and another doctor’s appointment in the morning, I think I will probably have around 20 of these bad boys left over. My new plan is to build a little house with them (they are waterproof) and try to make back the money I spent on them by saving on rent. I’m just not sure I’ll have much elbow room…