30 March 2007

The deluge continues but so does life

This should've been out yesterday, but the news about the flood were more important, so I'm posting it now and updating it.

Wednesday was a long day. I woke up early as I normally do, had a shower, got dressed, and had breakfast, all of it oblivious to the rain — I thought it would be raining lightly and I could run for the bus with minor wetting. Then my father came and asked, "Did you take a look outside already? I think you can't get out." There was enough water in the street to row a small boat. I waited to see if the rain stopped but it got worse, so I phoned work to let them know. They said no problem. I checked to see if I had Internet access and wrote for this blog... In the process I read all the papers, while I listened to Radio 2 online (there's no local news on TV before 7 PM, and then it's not great-quality news, and you can't watch it online). Then the long wait started.

By mid-morning the water had started to subside, but there was still too much of it. I sat down and watched Roman Polański's The Pianist on DVD, interrupted by lunch (it's a long movie). I liked it, but it really wasn't good for my mood. I took a nap... then read some more news... answered my emails... and somehow managed to waste my time until 5 PM.

Now, what I hadn't had the chance to tell you... I got the electromyography on my leg as scheduled on Tuesday afternoon. It wasn't a pleasing experience. The doctor, a woman in her early 40s, saw me in an excessively large room, accompanied by the operator of the machine that measures your nerve impulses, and told me to take off my pants (and socks). Now I'm not prudish at all, but being in a spacious room with no screens and undressing in the middle of it before these women felt a bit awkward. So I lie down in my boxers, and this woman begins sticking needles into my leg. At first everything was OK... Stick a needle, contract or extend a muscle to see the response (I heard my nerve impulses as static in the machine). Then I got a needle into my calf and it started to get painful when I pushed as instructed. Apparently there was no good response to the electrode, so she thrusted the needle inward. I didn't exactly cry, but close. After a couple of minutes, the technologist murmured "He's in pain!" and the sadistic doctor relented. She measured nervous speed by making me wiggle my toes, and then sent me off.

She told me she'd report the results to my traumatologist over the phone, so the next day I went to the community center to see him. He came 35 minutes late and then got me waiting for another 50 minutes while he took care of other patients (he's in charge of physical therapy as well). Just when I was about to pound him with a loose tile, he called me in.

The EMG was normal (and it only cost me 50 pesos and 10 minutes of torture to know, woohoo!). The reduced space between my vertebrae is not compressing my nerves. The sensation in my leg is due entirely to muscular problems. The solution is more exercise — more time, and more varied. I've been sitting before a computer 6 hours a day for years, so it's not surprising that suddenly beginning a serious exercise program brought such pains. So the answer lies in ignoring the pain, getting my body accustomed, stretching with care, and taking a seriously hot shower immediately after it. In an extreme case, the doctor told me, I could try therapy (heat, ultrasound), but it's not necessary, nor are analgesics or muscle relaxants. "Go with the natural thing", he said, more-or-less.

So if-and-when the rain stops, I'm going out jogging again. It may hurt a bit but now I know I'm not slowly breaking anything.

(That ends the post I was supposed to release yesterday.) Well, it's now Friday, and the above might take a while. The rain has not stopped; it's actually getting worse. The two major streams in Rosario (the Ludueña in the north and the Saladillo in the south) decreased their flow yesterday, as the rain stopped for several hours, but they're rising again. It rained cats and dogs this morning and the Ludueña actually poured into the street near its mouth. The Paraná River reached its evacuation level of 5.30 m, and the ravine in the coast of Rosario collapsed in two places, taking precarious homes with it and killing two people.

My mother called me to the office to tell me about the stream, and that my street was flooded again. It felt like a punch on my stomach. I couldn't do anything else at work. I waited half an hour and thought of going to a friend's house and wait. Then I remembered that my brother was alone with my grandfather at home. What the heck, I thought; I can take my shoes off and get my feet wet. In the bus the people were exchanging news and gossip. Fortunately the water had gone away, mostly, when I arrived. A group of guys in yellow where checking the sewers.

The rain stopped again, but there will be more evacuees. When it rains, it indeed pours: the emergency center inside the Newell's Old Boys stadium got partly flooded. A new evacuation center (with room for 300) has been prepped at the Aeronautical Lyceum of Funes. Besides this, the situation in Rosario seems to have stabilized; the 3,200-something evacuees will have to wait, and multiple inconveniences will pop out everywhere (streets blocked, sewers overflowed, etc.), but it doesn't seem like it'll get terribly worse.

In Santa Fe City, however, the situation has quickly deteriorated in the last 24 hours. There are 16,000 people evacuated in Santa Fe and the neighbouring towns of Santo Tomé and Recreo; one third of the capital city is flooded, and public services (transportation, electric power) are failing. Moreover, the only hope for many parts of the city is the arrival of high-powered pumps to get the water out, since it has no natural draining paths. To make things worse, the city is practically isolated, as the flood has covered its access roads, particularly the Rosario–Santa Fe Highway; the only way out is through the Hernandarias Subfluvial Tunnel, across the river, to Paraná, the capital of Entre Ríos. The governor finally came back from Caracas (on a standby flight, without luggage) and is organizing a crisis committee. The national Health Minister Ginés González García came to assess the situation and brought medicines and vaccines for the evacuees.

I haven't heard anything about Paraná except it had a few dozen evacuees, but Entre Ríos is also getting its share; they had a record rainfall of 340 mm in 24 hours, and 3,000 people were evacuated so far. The Gualeguay River, the most important in the province, overflowed and is threatening the homonymous city. The huge storm system that is causing the floods here is slowly moving east.

The radio is serving as an emergency coordinator of sorts, calling the various authorities and experts to let the public know what to do (or not do). The reports come all the time and they're uniformly gloomy; it's by no means safe to say anything at all about the end of the storm, which may be tonight, tomorrow, or even next Monday.


  1. Anonymous17:09

    The best news for sure is that your leg is OK and you will be bouncing (swimming?) back to good health soon - thank goodness it was nothing more serious - your readers were rooting for you for sure Pablo! ;) Now please stay safe and dry as these Rains of Ranchipur ("Theirs was the great sin that not even the rains could wash away" - gret 1955 movie with Richard Burton & Lana Turner) inundate the Argentine Mesapotamia. Roberto desde Miami

  2. P for Pain

    I was going to warn you that electromyography could be a little painful, but I didn’t want to scare you. Physicians often don’t seem too concerned about pain, especially when it’s not theirs.

    I hope that they’ve given you the correct diagnosis … but I’m not so sure about ignoring the pain. Pain is one of the body’s defense mechanisms. If it persists, I’d recommend you go and see a sports medicine doctor.

    Hey you got to keep your boxers on!



Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.