We were cycling into Poznań during a brief lull between violent thunderstorms – and, perhaps, rushing too much to avoid the next deluge – when my front wheel got caught in a gap between two uneven paving slabs on the cycle path and I was abruptly tipped over the handle bars. I was very shaken, the bike’s handle bar had crashed into my groin and my ankle had been wrenched as I made my swift descent to the pavement. It took me several minutes before I was able to get to my feet, aided by three worried looking young men who had stopped to help.
The following day my ankle was extremely sore so we felt it advisable to have it checked out at the local hospital. I had to produce my EHIC and drivers licence and was then triaged by an English-speaking doctor and sent for an X-ray before returning to the same doctor for diagnosis – fortunately no break, just a sprain. I was given a prescription for a foot brace and some gel for the pain and crutches too. Everything had to be collected from a medical supply centre (not a pharmacy). The doctor wrote down the address but we had no idea how far it was so we (Tony) decided that I didn’t really need crutches, brace or gel for the pain!
The hospital reminded us of something from the 1950s. There must have been half a dozen other patients receiving simultaneous treatment and we saw as many staff as we did patients. Instructions were given to us in a peremptory manner and we got hopelessly lost finding our way to the X-ray department, Tony valiantly pushing me in a pre-war style wheelchair! The corridors were deserted and there was no one around to offer us any help. We eventually found X-ray but we, apparently, came through the wrong door and everyone seemed very displeased with us. One member of staff shouted at us and when we failed to understand she just shouted louder.
No-one took any medical details or asked whether I had other injuries (my groin was a mottled purple colour by then but no way was I going to show them that unattractive part of my anatomy! My sore ankle was roughly handled by the woman in X-ray and again when they put on a bandage but we were grateful for the assurance that the ankle was not broken. The whole visit had taken two hours, we were not asked for any payment and we may have spotted indications of kindness and concern if we had had a common language.