Thursday, 30 April 2015

A rare case of meniscus....

Halcyon Daze, I think so..
A sneaky peek at out current domicile.
 Strange title you may think but last weekend I was challenged by the ever artful Linda, to use the word meniscus in this weeks blog.  I could have cheated and said well there it is, above however, I thought she may cry foul at that one.  Or I may try some crude play on words; "introducing Meni Scus new wife of Hiawatha" or "Meni Scusers are selling spare wheels for a living"  Of course that would be cheap.  I did consider throwing Tony into the hog wash to see if the surface tension (meniscus) could support his very humble frame but thought better of that on the grounds that he was due to return to the UK this week and pneumonia wouldn't have gone down well.  So I guess that means I've failed at that little challenge.

Droopy gob sat on the boat steps.
 We have had another week of steady improvements as far as the stroke situation goes, still a long way to go but definitely we are heading in the right direction.  I have spoken to a couple of people this week who in the past had been in the same situation as me and I was totally unaware that they had ever had a stroke, that give me quite a lift knowing a complete recovery is possible.

Judas tree in vafkeri, glow in the dark almost.
My Guitar still makes a noise like a wailing cat so I guess that's back to normal already.  I just can't get my fingers to go in exactly the right places yet so I won't be troubling the guitar group on a Friday for some time.  Another good thing is that we have returned the wheelchair to it's rightful owner this morning, I only used it twice but it was needed and very much appreciated at the time.  I am hanging onto the zimmer for maybe another week, despite the fact that I am now mostly walking unaided, it's more of a mental crutch than a physical one.  I shall be buying a stout walking stick though in the next day or two as balance is a rather ethereal thing at the moment.

And a few more in the valley.
Had a ride up to Vafkeri this morning after returning the chair, to see David who was in great form despite it being year end and the books are still to finish.  The countryside is amazing at this time of year flowers and blossom the like of which are rarely seen elsewhere.  Then it was down hill to see Brain and Vicky's building (and camp) site just outside Nidri, Very nice I could choose a place like that, you don't have to have sea views or be stuck into a reamed out mountain side to have an attractive plot, an Olive grove with and adjacent stream will also do it.

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Big ZZZzzzzz's and zimmers...

Last morning in Ioannina Hospital, an eerie outlook.
 Wow, what a difference a week makes.  On Friday we got early release for good behaviour from Hospital.  Jez picked me up in the early afternoon after we had gone through the hospitals discharge procedure, this meant Sandra taking some paperwork down to the hospital reception along with my European Health Card.  In the meantime I am held under armed guard in my room (not quite, but it felt like it) being repeated told that they could not remove the cannula until she returned.  Probably to make sure they are going to get paid.  Not that removing a needle would have proved an insurmountable problem.  They promised to email me the notes etc. from my stay so I could pass them on to our GP at home.  Still awaiting that, we may have to get back in touch.  Jim and Joan kindly loaned us a wheelchair and zimmer frame with which to ease my current mobility problems, thanks guys , I don't think I'm going to need it for too much longer.
Me and my zimmer in Cafe di Paris, Nidri.

Fire engine after the panic.
We have been back to the boat a couple of times since returning but as yet I have not had sufficient courage to walk the plank, I would end up doing a swallow dive and the water is cold.  I'll leave that to other G pontoon residents who are much better at it than I, you know who I mean Jules and Tommy.  Maybe next week I will have had my bravery pills.  Things are still improving very quickly, I have move almost away from the wheelchair onto the zimmer, and I'm planning to move to a walking stick soon.
Smitten in Sivota.

Our Morning view from the Sivota Rehab centre.
Having discovered that I have "oil" pressure, and type 2 diabetes we are now checking both these twice every day.  As yet everything seems to be pretty well as they should be but whether this is because of the drugs or the new healthy eating or mis-diagnosis in the first place I am not sure.  I am keeping detailed records to take home for our GP anyway.   More good news on the new me side of things, I've lost two Kg since getting to Sivota added to what I think I lost Hospital that's at least four Kilo's and could be as high as six, They didn't weigh me there, just told me to lose twenty Kg.  That means that I am now 99Kg 15st 8lb in old money.  Checking on my BMI it means that if I were half an inch taller I would only be overweight and not obese, anyone lend me half an inch?

Earlier this week, I walked with the zimmer right down Ray's drive to the bottom, which is fairly steep (just to prove I could) and having got there Ray pointed up the peninsular and there was a forest fire raging through the trees toward a property at the top of the rise, and it was being fanned along at a rate by a strongish breeze.  Ray fulfilled his civic duty and half an hour later the fire dept. was here doing their bit all very exciting stuff.  Until of curse when it's all over you think, I should have taken some pictures, well at least I got the fire engine!

It was nice to look over Sivota bay yesterday  and see Paul & Jules moored up with Smitten, we went down to the village and had a quick chat with them before going to Vounikas to have a lovely Lunch with Tree, Mike Tony and of course Liz.  We had a super afternoon thanks for the food and company guys.

We have had many, many nice things said and done for us over the last couple of week and, really it is all very humbling but also very much appreciated, I can understand people rallying for San because see's a people person but not me I'm just the one that hangs onto her shirt tails in the background.  Many thanks to one and all.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

and now for something completely different!...

More pipes than a plumbers merchant.

but at least we can have a brew
 As most people will be only too well aware, this week is dominated for us by my rapid wakeup call.  For those who  don't yet know, last Friday I suffered an Ischemic Stroke, basically a blood clot hitting my brain and making me think now that the left hand side is just a lump of lead.  As I said this happened Friday morning and within about an hour, Sandra had organised getting me to the hospital in Lefkas with transportation in the shape of Jez and Debs car, which was easier to get into.  there I had a chest X-ray?  no idea why and a CT scan which apparently showed that contrary to popular belief I do have a brain, the Doctor there confirmed our own suspicions that it was a stroke and we were dispatched to Ioannina by ambulance full speed on flashing lights and managing to confirm the accuracy of the Epirus pot hole map by running into every one of them.
and the view ain't too shabby.

the bedpan whose day job is a shovel.
 one and a half hours later I am being wheeled into the neurology wards at the university hospital, which is the premier hospital in the north west of Greece.  That said the competition for this title is not hotly contested.  Don't get me wrong, the clinical service provided is fine although I suspect that each professional likes to keep his secrets close to his (or her) chest.  It seems that i
looks a bit like "the mummies revenge"
 have been suffering from several things which have created the onset of the stroke condition, in fact I think I had seven of the eight major risk factors( apparently too much sex isn't a risk so I'm clear there!).  I have hypertension (blood pressure), diabetes type 2, I am at least 20 kilo's overweight (that's a full sack of tatties!), I have a sedentary lifestyle (what's retirement about then?) and of course the big no-no, I smoke well until last Friday I did, No one has let me have a smell of one since but I can't say that's bothering me I have other pre-occupations at the moment.  Of course I now have a specialist for all of these things and a physiotherapist, none of whom talk to the rest.  Don't misunderstand me at this level things are good if a little "jobsworth" and bureaucratic, really just what most people who know Greece would expect, and they do handle foreigners marvellously, on my ward we have an Italian another Brit and a German all of whom they take in their stride even though there is little "johnny foreigner" spoken by most of them.
Kettle on the go., great 70's tiling.

 Yes the real problem here is the lower level care, the personal care, the food, the cleanliness especially in a hospital environment.  For those of a weak or billious nature you may wish to ignore the next couple of paragraphs.
the most appetising meal of the week (smelt aweful) 
 Firstly, personal care, virtually everyone is catheterised, and hooked up to a saline drip on admission into the system, so never visit if you look ill they may get you.  My theory for this is that if you have a drip you cannot dehydrate, if you have a tube in your willy you can't wee the bed.  I substantiate this claim by offering the following facts of my experience.  I have not been offered any drinks at all until yesterday morning when a glass, polystyrene cup of warm milk appeared with breakfast and then again today.  This only brought two days after I had insisted on the removal of all the superfluous hose-pipes.  Again yesterday two days after I had managed to escape the ties keeping me attached to the bed, someone came to see if i needed clean sheets.  As it happened Sandra had changed the sheets regularly before  that point anyway.  Even though I was tied to the bed abd couldn't get to the, admittedly, en-suite shower/toilet, I had been offered no help at all with personal hygene, no wash, shave teeth cleaning, well there was in my case because I have a Sandra, but it looks like most of the people here don't have.  don't read now if you don't like nitty gritty.

at last freedom from the tubes i get to sit on a chair.
After three days I really did need to go to the loo (No. 2's you know).  I was confident that if we got th associated bags and drips onto a stand I could get there with some assistance, She went to get a wheel chair and came back with it and a rather irate rottweiler (nurse) who was determined it would not happen, in the meantime San and I had got me into the chair and then in the en-suite) and just about to transfer onto the loo (a very low level affair)The rottweiler is by this time on the phone to the doctor who says there is no way I should be out of bed, so me being what I am asked if they just expected me to hold it in forever or until I shat the bed.

and the balcony is usually full of pigeons.
 To cut the long story a little shorter they didn't let me use the loo but got me back in bed tout suite and produced the green bed pan show in the picture, getting on this was far more of a trial than going to the loo and certainly less dignified.  Afterwards Sandra went to look for a sluice room like you would find in most hospitals, no she had to clean it in the en-suite  fair enough can we have some gloves and disinfectant - no gloves here is a tub of iodine, use your hands, yeah like that was going to happen,  The unstoppable force met the immovable object, and Sandra got three pairs of gloves and an apology.
there's still snow on them there hills.

Food is very very bland and usually involved a hunk of meat, and a plate full or either rice pearl barley, or potatoes and the whole thing swimming in half a gallon of rancid fat encrusted, evil smelling liquor.  we have been getting Salad foods and meats from carrefour or occasional thing from the hospital canteen which is much better than what they give the inmates. And of we have been brewing up a good old cuppa on a frequent basis.
I'm not quite upto fixing the curtain fixing yet.
I have lots more of these little stories but  really we do not wan't to dwell on the negative side as the positive side has perhaps saved my life and we are both very very grateful for that.

the walls are falling apart
The building is about thirty years old we are told and is a teaching hospital on the campus of Ioannina University, it is showing signs of degradation but our room comes with beautiful views to to snow fields of Metsovo etc.. so it's not all bad being here, the downside is hat the hospital comes with a resident pack (14 or 15) large dogs, which are quite mostly during the day but kick up one hell of a din at night time.  Our balcony is also home to dozens of bloody cooing pigeons infesting us all with various fungal deceases etc, and to top it all the re-bar in the walls and frame of the building is beginning to blow away the concrete.  None of this will be fixed while the Greeks are having to pay more interest then they are earning.  Things can only get better as the song used to say.

The good news is that with luck and  following wind I should get parole tomorrow and be able to go to the temporary home kindly donated by Ray and Linda where I can spend some time recuperating.  That is of course as long as the old health doesn't throw another curved ball between now and then, fingers crossed.  Before going I would like to sincerely thank all the people who have sent kind works and comments via social media, phone and email, you'll never know how much that mean't to me in the first few day, a time when it all to easy to feel sorry for myself and not just a few tears flowed.  A Special huge thanks to Deb and Jez for their love, time and effort in getting us here.  Tony and Liz for being stalwart friends and for bringing a smile to my face when it seemed improbable and Ray and Linda for being such special pals in our hour of need.  Penultimately a huge thank you to the unsung hero's as always the medical staff without whom things may have been a tad different.  And finally to my boys their families and Sandra's Dad, it looks like you're gonna have to put up with me for a day or two longer so I should be able to spend some more of  your inheritance.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Party time...

A few of the reprobates.
 The major event of this week has to be without a shadow of doubt Ricky's fiftieth birthday party at Octopuses Garden in Lefkas town.  Best party we've been to for many a long time.  Of course that may be because no one likes us and thus it was the only party we've been to for many a long time but I prefer the former version.  It was a great evening of random entertainment and copious quantities of food and wine with some great characters there to make the evening go with a bang.
We're only here for the beer Wine!

The remnants of the shantymen, 

Ricky cuts the cake, I wouldn't trust him with a knife!
 Fortunately the weather stayed fine for us so we didn't have to build some sort of survival shelter out of old pack-a-macs and the odd occasional barn which someone may have found in the street.  Instead it was alfresco dining under a myriad tea lights and although the night air was cooling it was not as bad as we have had in the last few days so we are grateful for that.
Guess what, it's another rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. 

After all had been eaten and drunk and the shanties had been sung and of course Tommy's first rendition of the evening of Bohemian Rhapsody had been completed, accompanied I'm ashamed to say, by myself and a couple of other ne're do wells, the action moved inside to the dance floor.

Of course the more athletically capable of the guest indulged in something akin to limbo dancing whilst picking a cardboard box from the floor, however this dominated the space and presently gave way to dancing of a more conventional type.  Well, I say conventional, however, someone (I think it may have been Anna) appealed to my semi inebriated consciousness, which in turn had a quick word with my grey matter, which in turn sent the message back that in fact I could dance.  Radical departure from reality quickly followed as Les Travolta enters the arena with great expectation, well at least in me head.  No I didn't go arse end up on the floor but neither has my ability improved one iota in the intervening thirty years since I last tried to dance.  This didn't stop me though because as most males know when you are "in drink" the gap between perception and reality is really none existent.   Anyway, we enjoyed it hugely as I'm sure everyone there also did, so many thanks to "Bagpuss" for putting on a splendid bash.

Wild flowers on the way to Assos.
Today we have been back to Assos to see out Greek family Giorgos and Mantha.  As usual they were really pleased to see us and we had a lovely few hours there with them we took them some Easter gifts and also came away with copious fresh produce in return.  It's really sad to see how poor these people who depend on a none tourist mainly rural lifestyle are now with little or no sign of any improvement in the offing but they are still generous to a fault.  Good luck to em all we say and Kalo Paska ( Happy Easter) to everyone in Greece, belated so for the people in none Orthodox Christian places.

Thursday, 2 April 2015

comings and goings...

Two Drifters, going to be lifted. 
 It's been an emotional week for us guys.  Firstly Sanny arrived home last Friday, it's great to have her back I don't think I'm built to be a bachelor boy.  Unfortunately she came back with a stinking cold and chest infection which with a chest like that it takes some shifting.  Never the less I'm really pleased she's home and I dashed out to get the appropriate drugs to fight the infection at the earliest opportunity.

Smitten moving to pastures new
Secondly, there have been many people gone this week with it being the end of the winter season and the commensurate price hike which goes with summer season.  Our pontoon has lost Bagpuss, Smitten and Two Drifters this week but we have gained Two Choices (Lou & Pete) who are back afloat after their major works over winter.  Bye bye and welcome in equal measures.

When you pay this much for a boat the engines should work!
Fergus and Nev on Two Drifters, set off yesterday just down the yard to be lifted in order to get some work done underneath so I thought I would go and watch the lifting of a big catamaran which I have never witnessed before.  When I got to the other end of the yard there is a huge multi million euro motor yacht in the travel lift not going anywhere quick.  She looked immaculate and very posh but it seems they couldn't get the engines to work and so she couldn't drive out of the lift.  With all that money you'd think the bloody thing would actually move!  Anyway after an hour and a half Fergus had to moor up at the fuel pontoon and got pulled out this morning.  I've pinched the pictures  from his Facebook site.

When drifters become Lifters.
San and I have been busy getting our boat looking pretty again.  Washing and polishing the hull, to do so we had to winch her about five feet to starboard so the dingy would go around the port side and we could clean her relatively easily.  She's looking better now though and that's probably the worst job now out of the way but the decks will have to wait until later this month when we take down the winter cockpit tent and we can get at things better.

 Tonight we are going over to Palairos to indulge ourselves with an Indian now that Salim is finally back from his pilgrimage to his homeland, boy, am I looking forward to that!
Tiny Lesanda with her hull nicely polished.

Just finally we would like to wish everyone in the UK a happy Easter and to all our winter buddies who have now left we hope they have a great and safe summer out on the water.