Returning Home to Heal

This is Part IV of the saga of my woes in Greece. If you want to see all the gory photos from the beginning, start with Your Schadenfreude for the Day.

The dishonest taxi driver dropped me off two blocks from my hotel, probably because he realized that the front desk staff could see him through the plate glass windows and might report his deceitful ass. But at least I was able to recognize where I was and hobbled back to my hotel, wondering if my flight nurse had checked in yet. As luck would have it, my nurse Patrick was just returning from dinner and guessed that the American lady with the cane and the limp might just be his new charge. So once I got back to my room, he came over and had a look at my leg and took my vitals. He was a little concerned about the possibility of compartment syndrome (Trigger Warning: Doing just enough research to create that link made me dizzy for a few minutes.) but also thought I was past that at that stage. So he agreed to collect me at 4.30 the next morning so we could check out and head to the airport.

I never sleep well when I know I have to get up at oh-dark-thirty, but at least the town car ride to the airport was blessedly uneventful. We got a bit of breakfast, Patrick got me a wheelchair, and we hung out in the BA business-class lounge until time to head to the gate. Once on the plane, I took the window seat. I rarely do that, so I took an absurd number of snapshots all the way to London. I won’t subject you to all of them, but here is one of the Alps: IMG_20160505_100142Not sure if that’s Italy or Switzerland. ::shrug::

At Heathrow, we had to go from Terminal 5 to Terminal 3. It was this experience that made me decide that I’m keeping my ex-husband’s last name, legally at any rate. Apparently “that Branson bloke‘s doing terribly well,” and it resulted in customer service the likes of which I had never seen. Patrick said there was a reason he built in a 4-hour layover at Heathrow and that making the terminal transfer in mere minutes was unreal. So we hung out in the BA lounge (first class this time) and had a nice lunch and I texted a bit with my friend Tara who was also on her way back to Colorado but was in Terminal 2. Because Tara and me, we’re badass jetsetters, that’s what we are.

The flight to Denver had the business class seating that lets you stretch out and elevate your legs, so that was perfect for my situation. I was a little miffed that the screen was angled so that it didn’t work very well until they turned out the overhead lighting, but I suppose visuals aren’t all that important to watching The Big Short. Good movie, BTW. Depressing, but good. I did have a front-row seat for seeing an entire beverage cart flip. That was pretty crazy — booze and broken glass all over the place. I’m amazed none of it landed on me, and it’s a lucky thing Patrick had moved from his assigned seat to take a vacant one facing me.

Otherwise, the flight was uneventful and I even got some sleep. At the jetway, Patrick had to fight an old lady (who was just fine at Heathrow, I’ll have you know) for my wheelchair, but collecting our luggage and getting through CBP was pretty quick. Well, I’m sure a lot of that was due to me being in a wheelchair, which would explain why there were so many people who were perfectly ambulatory at Heathrow but suddenly needed wheelchairs upon landing in Denver. There was a reservation glitch for our town car, so we ended up taking a taxi to my house. In Fort Collins. From Denver. In case you’re wondering, that costs just shy of $150. Yay, travel insurance!

The next day, I visited my regular doctor. She confessed later that her first impulse on seeing my leg was to admit me to the hospital, as this was almost certainly a ruptured artery, so it’s a good thing I had a nice progression of photos documenting my recovery in process. She agreed with Patrick that I was likely beyond compartment syndrome but to be sure to let her know if I had any kind of relapse. Other than that, there wasn’t much to do beyond elevation, occasional ice, and time. Here’s what my leg looked like on the 8th: IMG_20160508_081914That’s the day I was originally scheduled to fly home from Paris. Yeah, that would have been a really bad idea, even if I had somehow managed to time it right to get to Paris that day. Here are some shots from the 9th and 11th:

So you can see that it is getting better. The color is returning to something vaguely normal, and some of the broken skin is healing. At this point I am doing better at walking, sometimes even without a cane, but stairs are still a significant challenge. I’m also sleeping most of the time. More recently (on the 17th), you can see that the broken skin is completely healed:

But the area just below the knee is still swollen and painful, even today. And there is still some visible bruising. It also feels a little numb. Not completely numb, but more like when local anaesthetic is starting to wear off after dental work. So I am a little worried that there might be some nerve damage when all is said and done, but I keep reminding myself that it’s early days yet. I’m walking fine without a cane, and going up stairs isn’t bad if I have a railing to hold onto, but “normal” is likely several weeks away.

I will provide an epilogue at some point, but now I will conclude this ugly saga and return you to my regularly scheduled blogging about books, writing, food, et cetera.


The Schadenfreude Saga Continues

If you’re just joining the saga of my fall in Greece, you may want to start at the beginning. And be advised that many of the photos are on the disturbing side.

The insurance company’s doctor called me the following Monday, and I described to him that there was some improvement over the weekend but that the bruising was spreading quite a bit and moving the leg was still very painful. He decided that he wouldn’t be able to declare me fit to fly without more information than he could get examining me in my hotel room, so he contacted the insurance company and had them arrange for me to be seen at a private clinic. The clinic sent a car for me, and the driver was most helpful in getting me checked in for the exam and explaining the paperwork to me.

My vitals being fine, the doctor ordered a sonogram and an INR check. My INR actually came back low, but not dangerously so, so he bumped up my warfarin dose a bit. And the sonogram came back negative for DVT or any other worries. I was fit to fly! I forked over a few hundred Euro, and they faxed everything to the insurance company and summoned my driver back. Things were definitely looking up!

Tuesday morning the insurance company came back with the decision that I needed to fly business class and should leave directly from Athens, and they suggested a flight nurse. I thought that was a dandy idea, as my leg was looking like this: IMG_20160503_091614Yep, still extremely painful and swollen and blistery. And there is more bruising on the foot than there had been. Though at this point there is starting to be some give when I press on the skin, and it is feeling slightly less like I stuck my leg in a bonfire. By the end of the day, they had arranged for a nurse to arrive in Athens the next evening and escort me home on Thursday.

Wednesday I decided that I was not leaving Athens without seeing the Antikythera mechanism, dammit. Which, of course, was not anywhere near my hotel. It is displayed at the National Archaeological Museum, and my only real option was to take a taxi. I had the hotel call me one, and it was fine. Gaining entrance to the building was a bit more of a challenge: IMG_20160504_143452Athens is really not designed with disabled people in mind. I’m sure there was a disabled entrance, but I still couldn’t tell you where it was.

I wish I had been in better shape, because it really is a great museum and I would have loved to spend many hours there. As it was, I had a bit of a treasure hunt finding the mechanism. Nothing on the museum map said “Antikythera Shipwreck Artifacts Right Here” with big arrows pointing to it, and the website suggested that the artifacts were no longer in a shipwreck-specific display. After wandering about the main level a bit, I asked one of the museum staff, and she made vague gestures on the map and couldn’t seem to decide which level it was on, so I began methodically searching the rooms with promising titles like “Metalwork Collection.” I finally located an empty display case where some of the Antikythera items used to be, and it provided clues to the gallery I sought: IMG_20160504_132956

I know it doesn’t look like much, but it was fascinating. I spent far too much time wrapped up in the mysteries of the mechanism, so by the time I was ready to leave, I was in quite a lot of pain.

I located an elevator to the cafe/gift shop level and spent a while relaxing there as I decided just how I was going to get back to my hotel. Walking even as far as the Metro station was out of the question. As I exited the building, I had decided to try Uber, but there were three taxis sitting in front of the museum. So I took one.

Huge mistake. Yooge! Long story short, as the driver was dropping me off — nearly two blocks from my hotel — and I quickly recognized that he was cheating me in at least three different ways, something in my brain clicked: You are a disabled female trapped in a vehicle with a man you cannot trust. Forget the fucking change. Give the man a bunch of money and get the fuck out of this car NOW. Next time, I will totally try Uber.

To Be Continued…