Saturday, March 10, 2012

The winter of my discontent

Always one to enjoy a good farce, I have to say I'm not having much fun with this one.

Normally, my travel gods ensure that I have blissfully worry-free travel with no health, money, or crime issues - good lord, I've never even missed a flight or has a suitcase go missing! Not so this trip.

For the first few weeks of my winter in Crete, we've been plagued by rotten rainy cold weather. No problem - well, except this lovely villa I've rented for the season has no central heating. It is a summer holiday let, you see, and not at all suitable for what can be cold winter nights. I've taken to bundling up in layers, drinking hot tea and raki and snuggling under fleecy blankies while I watch TV at night.

Just as the weather was finally breaking and Greek sunshine starting to show the promise of spring, I suffered a pretty catastrophic fall down a slippery staircase. Sadly, I was sober, or it might not have been so bad. I was trying to muscle a space heater from the second floor to the first and away I went. I already have a knee that is pretty much made up of loose gravel and twigs - ligaments and tendons long having been destroyed in an old basketball injury. But this time, I damaged it in a truly spectacular, if not technicolour, fashion. I cried like a baby, as nothing hurts worse than a joint injury.

My splendid friends here immediately showed up to nurse and soothe me. I was plied with drugs, hot water bottles, food, love and attention. I slept on the couch in my clothes for a few days as I really couldn't walk. In a few days I was able to hobble a bit with a cane. I resigned myself to a few weeks of being house bound recuperating.

Then came the salmonella poisoning.

Generally, I am one of those annoying smug people that never gets stomach upsets. I used to joke that I could lick the water out of a mud puddle in Mexico City and not get sick. Hardy har har. Not so funny now. No, the real comedic value here is the vision of me racing to the loo hopping on one leg, sort of like an animated corkscrew. Howling in pain all the while for complete dramatic effect. Let's just say that Mr. Dictionary deserted me in favour of a few choicer words I learned from my sailor pals.

One thing about constant pain - it is exhausting. Another thing about gastric nastiness - it also wears you out. While I am thrilled to have lost about 10 pounds, I am utterly exhausted. The superduper antibiotics I eventually took to slay the salmonella beast also wiped out all the other good bugs in my gut. Bring on the yeast infection in my mouth and eyes. I am not making that part up. Fortunately, that's an easy one to fix in the land of real yogurt. A few bowlfuls of good Greek yogurt fixed the balance - infection gone.

It is now week two of my confinement. Cabin fever is setting in. I can't bend my knee enough even to get into my little rental car and bomb around the country side. And if I did, the thought of having to haul over and find a clump of bushes is enough to keep me housebound. I am mending slowly. But it is frustrating. Getting lots of reading and sleeping taken care of so I can tick that off my to-do list. The time I spend lying on my bed of pain contemplating the ceiling also allows me to stew over losing my job the day I flew out from Canada and allows me to seethe that my former boss and dear friend is screwing me out of my back pay. What? Me, worry? Yes, this truly has been an epic adventure. I'd quote Queen Elizabeth and her "annus horribilus" line, but the obviousness of the pun potential is just too great.

But, listen: can I just say thank you to my wonderful friends here? They check in on me several times a day, bring me homemade soup and stolen fruit, meds, mags, laughter and buckets of love. I am overwhelmed.

I commented that I wouldn't get this kind of love and attention at home - my very wise cousin Harriet said, "maybe you ARE home."

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