So, I went to Athens, Greece, for the 2016 BookCrossing Anniversary Convention last month. It was awesome. More on that later. The plan was to spend a few more days sightseeing in Athens, maybe hop an island or two, then head on to Italy and France for an adventure by rail before returning home. ::sigh:: Yeah, that last part didn’t happen.
On what was supposed to be my last full day in Athens, I was checking out the Ancient Agora. I had just entered the site and taken a few photos. Like this one: And then suddenly, I know not why, I pitched forward onto the lightly pebbled path and landed on all fours. But mostly on my left knee. A staff member and a bystander rushed over to me. We determined that I didn’t seem to have broken any bones, and they helped me to my feet, gathered my things, and got me to a bench out of the sun. Dimitria (the staffer) brought me some nice cold water and chatted with me for a bit while I rubbed my knees and reassured her that I was probably just a little bruised. After all, my jeans had escaped damage save for a very tiny hole below the knee, so I probably hadn’t even broken the skin. (I was wrong about this.)
Eventually, I decided that I had done what I could to ease the pain in my left leg, so I might as well see at least part of the site. I was in the Stoa of Attalos, and that seemed as good a place as any to start. I wandered around the lower level and then discovered the stairs to the second level. They were absurdly steep, but I limped up them, holding onto the railing for dear life and hoping there was a way down that wouldn’t give me vertigo. And I was rewarded with this view: I was relieved to find a non-vertiginous set of stairs at the other end and made my way back down.
My leg had gone from hurting (which, being no stranger to chronic pain, I can cope with fairly easily) to feeling Very Wrong Indeed. So after a brief stop into the gift shop for postcards, I decided to make my way back to my hotel. You know one way to tell you have crippling social anxiety? You have a leg that is damaged in some unknown and possibly severe way, but you don’t know how to hail a taxi, so you limp back to your hotel nearly a kilometer away. (Yes, Pete, I have since installed Uber on my phone.) But I digress.
And here I suppose I should post a Trigger Warning: No more pretty pictures. From here on out you get to see what an arterial bleed looks like. Which could be useful if you are a writer trying to accurately describe such an injury over the course of a few weeks. Or maybe you’re just a sicko who wants to revel in my pain.
I limped into the lobby and explained my predicament to the nice lady at the front desk, and she quickly fetched me a bag of ice and called the elevator for me. Once in my room, I took off my jeans and assessed the damage: Doesn’t look too bad, right? But what you can’t tell, since I normally have very large, muscular calves, is that the entire bruised part of the left knee is burning hot and swollen rock solid. I’m also at this point wondering how in the heck I got all those scrapes without seriously damaging my jeans. And I’m thinking that my BookCrossing friend Merolia is not going to take me shopping in the Syntagma area that evening.
I was right about that. Merolia arrived and agreed that I should see a doctor instead. I contacted my travel insurance company, and they advised me to consult the hotel front desk about a medical facility and then re-contact them to file a claim for reimbursement. Merolia and the front desk staff determined that I should go to the KAT hospital, which specializes in orthopaedic medicine, and they arranged for a taxi. Merolia accompanied me, and I am so glad she did. I would have been lost without her.
The ER doctor at KAT ordered x-rays and determined that I had no fractures. His conjecture was that the pain was caused by an enormous hematoma pushing the patella into a bad position. He wrapped the leg, lectured me on the folly of travelling abroad with a high INR (that makes sense if you know anything about warfarin therapy), flat refused to complete the insurance paperwork, and told me to ice the leg and stay off of it for a week. I flat refused to do that and explained my ambitious itinerary. He rolled his eyes at me and released me back to Merolia’s care. Merolia got me back to my hotel, brought me some dinner and a fresh ice-pack, and promised to return the next day.
I was at a loss as to what to do next. I emailed the insurance company what little paperwork I had, but as the KAT is a public hospital, there was no charge for them to reimburse. And nothing from the ER doctor but a hastily scribbled reassurance that I hadn’t broken my leg. The hotel was completely booked for the following night, but it was becoming clear that I was not leaving Athens the next day, so I got myself booked in for the next night at the hotel next door.
After breakfasting the next morning, I moved next door (with the gracious assistance of the lovely hotel staff), and then I dared to take a peek under the wrapping:
To Be Continued…