Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Demetrios bought me crutches, and I am practising with them.  In a way they are easier than the rolling chair, but in another way they aren't, perhaps because I am not yet adroit with them.

Friends who see me scoot around on my little rolling chair are appalled.  Ianna crosses herself.  Thomai wails, and when I told her of my plan to go across the street to visit Lorraine, the Englishwoman who owns the Mini-Mart, Thomai turned to Demetrios and said, "Don't encourage this in her; oh, please don't encourage it!" I feel very at ease getting around this way; it  apparently looks more dangerous than it is.  Katya and Tassos, who are Ianna's sister and brother-in-law, repeatedly begged Demetrios and me to get crutches and use them instead.  So, I have crutches.  They are an alternative, not a replacement.

Demetrios also sneaked out of the house for half an hour while I thought he was napping, and came back with this.

Then we went, by cab, to Aristotle Plaza, where I rolled into the nearest place to sit outdoors and have some refreshment and enjoy the view of the harbor and do some peolple-watching.  The place turned out to be Starbuck's.  So, the best spot (nearest the sea) on the main plaza of Thessaloniki is no longer Greek-owned.  A multinational corporation has it instead.  Signs of the times.

Anyway, we sat there an hour and a half enjoying the cool evening air and the surroundings.  As it was a wi-fi hotspot, I tried to Facetime my family, but was unable to reach anyone, much to my disappointment.  I forgot to take pictures while there, but as Demetrios seems eager for us to go back there from time to time, I'll have other chances.

Oh, and my other birthday present from Demetrios was a Greek SIM card, to provide Internet access from home, finally.

Best gift of all:  Facetime with some of my family!  They were able to reach me later.

To occupy my time, I'm reading The Brothers Karamazov.  I'm on that most famous chapter, that ferocious indictment, entitled,  "The Grand Inquisitor".  It's the one you study in high school and/or college if you don't read the rest of the book (and you don't).  I wonder how Catholics think and feel when they read it.  When that's finished, War and Peace waits me, already downloaded. (I keep thinking of an Englishman's wisecrack when he said something - I don't remember what - was 'more depressing than a Russian novel.' !!  So, as I do not need depressing just now, I have also downloaded some P.G. Wodehouse, one of my favorite humorists.

In the knitting department, I have been working on a design of my own and am using it in a scarf for my friend Anastasia.  Here is how it will look when blocked.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Feeling Blue

I'll tell you one thing this experience of being laid up is teaching me:  that I am a spoiled brat!  That has to be a good lenten lesson.  I've often said I love staying at home, being in my house.  I've told Demetrios, who gets cabin fever very easily, that if you give me a book, some sudoku puzzles, some knitting, and Internet access, I can be happy for days on end without setting foot outside.  I would do well in prison.  So here it is only two weeks and why am I in tears?

And it's not even as if I'd been exactly imprisoned, either.  We went to Mena's on Tuesday night. She is suffering much more than I, having been laid up since her hip replacement surgery a few days before Christmas.  She wasn't allowed out of her house for more then three months.  Now, yesterday, she has had a knee replacement and will be house-bound again for I know not how long.  Thursday we went to see Leonidas and Ianna.  Ianna is recovering from surgery to correct a slipped disk.  She was not only housebound, but confined to her bed, for weeks.  My dear neighbor Frances, in Richmond, is back in the hospital with multiple issues.  She has something called reversible posterior leukoencphalopathy, which according to Wikipedia is a swelling of the brain.  She has an infection I don't know where that the nurse said is "worse than MRCA" and is resistant to ALL antibiotics.  Her blood pressure fluctuates wildly.  She has a gallstone.  Her kidneys aren't functioning properly.  She is unresponsive.  Now Dickie, her husband, is also in the hospital, having had a stint put into one of his coronal arteries today.  Poor Christos, my brother-in-law, can hardly move, from fatigue.  (Physical strength, ti turns out, he does have, but he feels too tired to use it.).

Now I think of it, maybe it would be very strange if I weren't in tears!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


19 April, 2013

Spent the day the same way you did:  watching the Boston manhunt.  We now get the BBC, so I was able to follow it all in English.  So relieved it's over!  For most people.

20 April, 2013

Stelios and Anastasia came to visit us today.  They've been friends of Demetrios for decades, retired schoolteachers and near neighbors of ours - and more wonderful people you will never meet.

Here is Stelios with Demetrios.  That's Demetrios' new desk.

And here is Anastasia.  This angel brought us enough shrimp-and-macaroni casserole to make 5 meals plus a box full of chocolate-covered pretzels.  Cooking is very difficult for me, so this was a hugely welcome gift!

I'm hurting a lot again, because of having spent the whole morning trying to help Demetrios clean and tidy our apartment, in preparation for our guests.  Didn't do much; just washed the breakfast dishes, dusted a bit, took in some laundry from the line and folded it and put it away.  Tried to make my (separate) bed, but couldn't make it look decent.   That isn't a great morning's work but together with getting dressed, brushing my teeth, combing my hair, and putting on a dab of make-up, it was exhausting!  It's of course the moving around on my "scooter" that is so tiring.

Still Recovering Gradually

Monday,15 April

(Something familiar about that date .. oh, yes, it's tax day in the U.S.!)

Demetrios bought me a rolling potty chair, not to be used for that purpose.  The idea is to rest my knee on the seat (with the lid down!), hand onto the sides, and use the other foot, the non-broken one, to propel it as a scooter.  But it will also fit into the shower, making a place for me to sit while washing.  Or I can sit in it and be pushed, somewhat as in a wheelchair.  Notice, it also has a "compartment" underneath for me to put anything I need to take from room to room.  (All except my water glass...)

I have a lot of ugly bruises.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Recovering, Gradually

Tuesday, 16 April, 2013

News of the Boston Marathon bombings only reached us this morning, via the pharmacist.  As it is to much later here than there, the first news of it came after we were already in bed.  Well, what's to say?  These tragedies are going to continue and innocent people will suffer, but this is not a political blog (at least regarding American politics), so - no comment, only prayers.

I hurt a lot less today.  I've resumed some of my household tasks, no doubt to Demetrios' relief.  He has been wonderful through this.  My only problem is going to be convincing him to get my some crutches.  I CAN get out of this apartment on crutches and do it safely. "Take me to Mena's house," I said, "And I will use her crutches to demonstrate my proficiency with them!"   My chance will no doubt come soon.  So far, I keep busy reading, writing, knitting, watching the BBC, and doing my Greek lessons, but no way am I going to let a tiny break in a small bone keep me siting around in this wee flat for six straight weeks!

Dr. Theo's other and primary patient, Christos, says he has begun to drink more, is trying to eat more, and is taking his medications and dietary supplements.  He says he has stopped smoking, too, but by that he means he only takes a dozen or so puffs a day on his pipe (having no strength to puff more).

We have the results from the slew of tests he had, and so far, no physical thing appears that could account for his overwhelming weakness.  So as of today, he starts an anti-depressant, which we hope will lead to improvement.  It will take perhaps a month for the medicine to take full effect, so we wait to see.  It's only a guess, but it's the only guess.

He is also proceeding with some alacrity to move back to Thessaloniki.  He has the key to his flat and has lined up some men to do the work.  This alone, being back among people who care about him, should improve his spirits.

Thursday, 18 April, 2013

Thought you might like to see  a bit of the inside of a Greek hospital.  The first photo is the emergency room lobby.  You take a number from that tall, white box and wait to see your number flashing at a window.

And here, if it comes out, is a short video showing you the outpatient area.

Out total costs today (as I have no Greek health insurance):  8 Euros; 5 for the hospital, 3 to have more x-rays taken.  So, about $12 in all.                    
Oh, and the shots I take in the belly cost 6 Euros for 4 of them.  They're the same ones my neighbor Francis takes, in Richmond; she paid $96 for four of them.

The verdict today was:  no cast after all; the splint will do.  I must never put any weight on it.  On Holy Thursday, we are to take more x-rays to see if healing has begun.  If not (because of the crack being wide), surgery.  The surgery is tricky, because when you try to screw such a tiny bone together, the screw itself can split the bone.  Please pray for me; the very last thing I want is surgery in a Greek hospital!!!

Falling and Falling in Love With You

14 April, 2013

Today is our 22nd wedding anniversary; that is the good part.  The not-do-good part is that I took a spill.  We were on our way to church, walking.  I had on new shoes, wedgies with medium-high heels; that was my first mistake.  The sidewalks here are broken, rough, uneven.  Really they only suitable for flat, preferably sturdy shoes.  It began to rain, lightly.  So I made the second mistake of, well, looking where I was going.  Around here, you need to look where you ARE, not where you are going.  But eager to get out of the rain shower, I fixed my eyes on the church, half a block away, instead of on the sidewalk below me - and down I went.

I am a very lucky woman; I do not have osteoporosis and did not break a hip!

Two passers by stopped their car and sprang to our assistance, holding out their arms to me.  I just sat there crying like a silly goose.  "Get up," said Demetrios.

"No!  I'm not getting up!"  Some instinct, it seemed, was just telling me not to move.  But a moment later, common sense overruled that feeling.  I couldn't sit there on the sidewalk all day - in the rain, yet!  So I let them pull me up and thanked the women with all my heart.

"I've broken my foot," I told Demetrios.


I pointed to the general vicinity.

"Not likely," he said.  "That is a difficult spot to break."

I elected to continue to church, where I managed to do rather a lot of standing without great discomfort.  But you know how it is with fractures; they worsen over the first couple of hours.

On our way out of the church, suddenly somebody grabbed me, hard, from behind.  "Oh, excuse me, so sorry!" said someone over my shoulder.  A woman had stumbled on one of the stairs and had, as a reflex, grabbed onto me.  It somehow gave me inordinate joy to know she had been spared a worse fall than my own!

We limped slowly home, removed my hose, and had a look.

"Yes, it looks suspiciously like a fracture," said Doctor Theodoridis.  "The knee on the other leg is abraded, too."  It was also beginning to hurt a LOT.  I'm pretty bunged up all over; several places are quote sore.

I burst into tears again as Demetrios cleaned my knee and applied the band-aid - not from pain, but because I suddenly had a flashback; I was back in "Doctor Jones' Bleeding-sore and Band-aid Clinic", as our family bathroom became whenever Dad set up shop there after one of us children had scraped a knee or cut a finger.  (It had to be bleeding for you to qualify at this clinic.)

So off to a hospital in a cab, to add the experience of a Greek hospital to that of an English one; and even I could read the radiologist's diagnosis: a 'katagma, basis 5ou metatarsou.'  (Those ou endings make it the genitive case.)

Today, a splint.  Thursday, a cast, after the swelling has subsided.  Tonight, a good sleep with the help of Ambien, and tomorrow we shall figure out how I shall manage.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Greece 2013, Part 02

We've been here nearly two weeks now, and it had taken most of that time for me to become adjusted to the new time zone; it's seven hours earlier here than at home (see clocks in my sidebar).  We have both been sleeping poorly and late.  But we seem to be pretty well over the jet lag by now.

Christos, although not in danger of dying immediately, is nevertheless in danger, and if his situation cannot be improved, he will not last long.

We are perplexed, stymied, by the difficulty of getting him to take the necessary steps.  He has procrastinated for two years now going to any of his doctors.  Two years ago he did buy the prescribed medications, but he never took  them.  He was emphysema, but will not stop smoking.  He is severely dehydrated, yet will go all day without drinking more than a third of a cup of anything.  How to help someone who won't help himself, even to that small extent?

Yet, there are at least two positive developments.  One is that Demetrios has taken him to two specialists so far, with a follow-up appointment tomorrow, I think.  A battery of tests is also being run.  (Demetrios says his weakness is too dramatic to be accounted for by emotions alone.)

The second positive news is that Christos is going to move back into town, where he will be nearer his doctors, his sons, his friends, and us.  He will have more company and it will be easier for us or anybody else to, say, bring him a meal or otherwise care for him.  The move will also save him a bit of money, as the rent he will pay will be more than made up for by his using less gasoline and having much lower heating costs.  He has lucked into the same flat he lived in once before.  He will now only have 10 stairs to climb instead of 20 or so where he is now.

Meanwhile, the doves have understood we are back.  I wasn't going to start putting out food for them this time, as the result is that the balcony needs more cleaning.  But the doves come and stare at us, so I do put out some once a day, which the sparrows also come to share.

Lorraine, the Englishwoman who owns the mimi market across the street from us, teased me:  "I knew you were here when the Greek flag appeared on your balcony.  All I could think of was, the Queen is in residence; fly the flag!"

Okay.  My trouble is in persuading my subjects!

Last night we went to the home of Ioannis the theologian and his wife, Mena for the bi-weekly theological discussion we began last year.  The topic was the relationship between soul and body.  The point that struck me most was that, just as a body without the soul is not a human being, neither is a soul without a body a human being; it's just a soul.

For the past couple of days, I've been humming that old Evangelical hymn, He Leadeth Me; don't know why.

He leadeth me, o blessed thought!
O words with heav'nly comfort fraught!
Where'er I go, where'er I be,
Still by His hand He leadeth me.

Did you catch that?  What have we here?  We have a blessed thought.  We have comforting words.  When it's a mere concept, you have to keep thinking and saying it.

He leadeth me! He leadeth me!
BY His own hand He leadeth me.
His faithful foll'wer I would be,
For by His hand He leadeth me!

I've done a fair bit of knitting while Demetrios was with his brother at medical appointments.  I finished the scarf for Kelly, my oldest granddaughter; here it is.  I've also, as en experiment, made a so-called "eternity scarf", which is to say a knitted moebius strip, but I think that needs its own post!

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Photo Test

This is a taverna where we went last night.  This post was just to see if I could upload it.  Next I am going to try a video of the same thing.

Sorry for the Silence...

We have made an emergency trip to Greece, on account of Demetrios' brother, Christos, who is quite sick.  Thanks be to God, it doesn't turn out to be a life-and-death emergency after all, although the man is very sick.  In addition to heart problems, Christos has the most severe osteoporosis Demetrios has ever seen, plus a severe intestinal problem we won't describe, but it prevents him eating very much or very often, and as he doesn' take his vitamins and other supplements, it now appears he as severe malnutrition.  Probably malabsorption has something to do with that.  Anyway, what triggered our premature trip to Greece was, he now suffers from such profound weakness that most days, by afternoon, he can no longer even hold is head up.  He sits in a chair with his head leaning on a table.  Demetrios has taken him to his doctor, who was "very persuasive" in making the case for this weakness being psychosomatic.  The man is very, very unhappy and tired of living.

The week before we came, I was so busy getting the house in Richmond into apple-pie order that I had no time for blogging.  We've been here a week now, and it takers about that long (at my age) to adjust to the jet lag.  Plus, the Internet cafe from which I have always comunicated has not survived the economic turndown; it's closed and shuttered and wearing a "For Rent"sign.

Luckily, just before leaving home, I bought an iPad.  It, however, does't (yet) have the proper SIM card for use here, so I can only get Internet access when I'm somplace that has WIFI.  One great thing is that when I do have access, I can use Facetime, for free, both to see and to hear by children and grandchildren.

Demetrios and I converged here from two different places; he had been in England for a couple of weeks to attend the wedding of James (one of his godsons) and Kim.

Now that I have a camera I know how to use (the iPad), I will post some photos as soon as I figure out how to do it.  I managed to upload a couple to my other blog (a blog I use strictly for testing things) but after that, the process wouldn't work any more...  I have taken a short video or two, also, and will try to share those here.

Our plans remain fluid (in other words, we have none) depending upon developments with Christos.  Please pray for him, and for us.  Thank you!

P.S.  I do not know how to type well on this thing yet!