I may be making this a short blog. Well the next 4-6 weeks of blogs may only be brief.
Because clever me has gone and fractured my right wrist! I didn’t even do it on the boat, I fell over on solid, steady dry land.
Before you ask: Yes I’d been sampling the local Greek wine with Baz and our very competent crew Mike and Elaine. It was a lovely balmy Sunday afternoon and we’d gone ashore in Argostoli, on the Greek island of Kefalonia. On our way back from the taverna, we made our way back along the harbour path; the guys in front and Elaine and I ambling behind, chatting away as girls do.
One minute I was upright, walking. The next minute my right ankle gave way as my foot hit an uneven part of the pavement and down I went. My right hand automatically flung out to break my fall but as my body followed, all of my weight bore down on my wrist and I felt a nasty pain that felt as if the damage done was more than a sprain.
It made me feel sick actually, so I sat there on the ground assessing the damage. Sharp pain meeting me when I tried to move my wrist was a sign that something wasn’t right, so I immediately removed my ring and two bracelets from that hand as I figured there’d be some swelling at some stage. I’m very glad I did as it would have been impossible to take them off later.
Elaine helped me up while the boys did what lots of boys do: stood watching grinning, saying something about me being pissed. I scowled while I also tried to put on a brave face. The guys came towards us and Baz asked me what the damage was. I told him it felt worse than a torn muscle. At that point, I felt light headed so I hurried to a nearby bench and sat with my head down for a while.
Getting back on board via the dinghy was a bit of a performance and I realised how much I take the full use of two hands for granted. Looking at my wrist and feeling stabbing pains when I tried to move was enough for Elaine to suggest strapping it up. Luckily we have a reasonable first aid kit on board and in no time I was sitting feeling sorry for myself as I looked at my beautifully bandaged wrist. After a general conversation it was decided to see how it felt in the morning before making a decision to go to hospital or not.
That evening Baz was polite with me but I could tell he was annoyed. Gawd, I was annoyed with myself. The last thing we need is for either of us to be incapacitated on a sail boat. I wouldn’t mind but it isn’t the first time I’ve fallen over in Greece. I did the same thing (without alcohol) in Corfu last week, only that time I just scuffed a knee. I do have a weak right ankle that I used to strap up when I did karate a few years go, and with so many uneven pavements in the Greek islands, it seemed I was a fall waiting to happen!
Anyway I went to bed early and spent the night trying to get comfy with an aching wrist. The next morning it was still incredibly painful and swollen so I decided to go and get an x-ray.
The general hospital was sadly run down and had obviously sustained damage in at least one previous earthquake. Plaster had fallen off walls, lights were out of action and ceilings had water damage. Baz and I took a while finding A&E due to neither of us knowing any Greek, but eventually, after the outpatients intake fellow told us to go downstairs, we arrived at the informal A&E ‘triage’ area. I stuck my head around a door where a nurse took one look at my wrist, wrote a short Greek note on an A4 piece of paper and told me to “go for an x-ray then return here”. Very appreciatively I made my way to the corridor she’d directed me to. A hospital worker saw me trying to work out which door I was supposed to knock on and pointed to one further along that on closer inspection had “Radiology” written in English under the Greek sign. Obviously this was an area frequented by tourists! The lady rang a doorbell and pointed for me to sit and wait. After a long wait, but no longer than you’d expect for a busy hospital, a radiologist opened the door. She took me to the x-ray area and in no time at all I was sitting in another area waiting for my x-ray.
Once I received that, I trotted back to the intake area looking for the nurse. She wasn’t there but a Greek lady who was waiting with an outpatient said I just had to sit and wait and I’d be seen in turn. What looked like a long queue was not that long after I discounted the people who the obvious casualties had come with. It was still a fair wait and Baz had to leave me at 12.45pm to get to a radio interview that we’d come to Kefalonia for. Sadly I couldn’t make it but it probably turned out better as Baz did say that from his experience as a DJ, it is easier to interview just one person. Anyway, after he left at the last possible moment, I sat, counting my blessings that I’d been admitted into the hospital system without any difficulty.
I was admitted to the treatment room at 1.15pm, 45 minutes before Baz went on air. The room, while having an old feel about it, was clean and seemed to have all the equipment you’d expect to see in A&E. After listening to the staff trying to placate a little boy who needed stitches over his eyebrow, behind the next curtain, a doctor young female doctor came over to me and looked at my x-ray. After sending a photo of it via her phone to someone she then had a long conversation with, she turned back to me.
“You have a fracture,” she said in broken English, pointing to a hairline white line in the x-ray. “I’ll put a splint on it. It will need to be on for 4-6 weeks, but you can see your doctor when you go home.” After I explained that I was sailing on to Turkey but didn’t need paperwork for the captain, she applied a splint, some padding and an elastic bandage, stuck down with hospital tape. She did say it had been a good thing that I’d strapped it up when I’d injured it.
Once she’d got me bandaged up, she asked for my age and country (she already had my name from the x-ray). She wrote the details in a large ledger and immediately began talking to a nurse and another patient.
“Do you need me to sign anything or pay anyone?” I asked. I’d taken my passport in case they needed proof of identity.
“No,” she smiled.
Wow. Feeling hugely relieved as I hadn’t been sure how much it would cost, I gave her a teary smile and walked out into the sunshine. It was 1.30pm and I had about an hour to wait for Baz. He’d told me to wait by the dinghy, so I walked down the hill, sat at a waterfront cafe table, ordered a coffee and toasty for brunch, and sat counting my blessings. Despite still beating myself up for being such a dill at falling over, I was very relieved that my injury wasn’t any worse and that the Greek hospital system had been so generous, given its obvious needs for funding. Baz found me about an hour later and we went back to the boat.
Two days after being treated, I’m now learning patience with myself, humility when I have to ask (often) for help, and noticing that simple tasks when done with only one hand are a considerable achievement. A B Sea is tied up in the free unfinished marina at Argostoli at the moment (waiting for a large wind system to blow itself away) and the solo sailor in the yacht next to us has the use of only his left arm as his withered right arm swings lifelessly at his side. What a timely reminder that there are always others worse off than you; but those others may actually be more accomplished at what they do given their shortcomings.
Well that wasn’t too short a blog for you was it? Until next time, take it easy and perhaps remember to count your blessings for what you normally take for granted. I certainly am!