The surgeries have worn me out, physically and mentally, I am tired and in constant pain. The pain treatment sucked. You see… Greek hospitals, mainly due to limited funding and corruption, are not the most ideal place to be hospitalized in the western developed world. Anyway, let’s try and stay out of politics and let’s focus on the story.
It’s late at night and I am lying in bed unable to sleep. My leg pain starts getting worse and sweat is constantly dripping of my back soaking up the bed. I press a button to call a nurse so I can maybe get some more pain medication. Half an hour passes and no response. I look at an old clock on the wall – its 3 a.m. I squint my eyes for a couple of seconds and when I open them its daylight. Nurses are passing by and family and friends are in the room. How can this be possible I think to myself, it was 3 a.m. seconds ago. I talk to the people around me but no one replies. My voice has a weird echo… I squint my eyes again and I’m back in the dark room lying on sweaty sheets. Ok, relax I say to myself. You’re just hallucinating from the fever and the drugs. Since day one I had a non-stop fever which made everything even worse. The doctors informed me that it was a normal reaction to the physical stress from all the surgeries, drugs and the open wound I sustained. Nightmares and weird hallucinations from the fever and drugs is how I spend most nights.
Another thing that makes these days seem endless is the fact that my back is also killing me. Your back can get extremely sore when you have been lying on it for days. At some point, my back hurt even more than my leg. One day I noticed a physiotherapist doing rounds with some students. You could see right through his fake attempts to impress the young female interns with that I run shit here attitude. I tell him my back is killing me and ask if he can do something about it. His response, And why are you asking me about something like that? I look at him with a dumbfounded look as he leaves the room. The only thing that comes to mind is the lyrics of my favorite rock poet, Jim MorrisonPeople are strange…
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On week three, my doctor comes in with some bad news. He tells me that if the infection keeps on spreading they will have to amputate my leg. We ought to inform you about this so that you can be prepared. I said, “ok” and pretended to be cool until he left the room, when I turned on the side and teared up a bit. I was tired and confused. How had my life suddenly taken such a turn? A week ago, I was sprinting along the seafront of Thessaloniki’s Port at lightning speed and now I am in a hospital bed wondering if I’ll have my leg sawed off. I am operated on again the next day and three days after that a team of doctors enters the room to update me about my situation. “You’ve dodged the bullet,” they tell me. I feel relieved, for now…
Due to the trauma and all the surgeries to avoid infection, one-third of my lower leg had literally no skin. All that was separating it from thin air was the bandage that a medical intern would change every morning. In my last surgery, doctors took a skin graft from my thigh to cover the exposed part of my leg. In such situations like mine, skin-graft transplants are not the equivalent of cosmetic surgery. It’s not like they cover the wound with what looks as normal skin. It’s simply a thin layer of scar tissue that covers the wound and makes it look more like a third degree burn than anything else. To avoid infections, the following couple of days, an intern had to apply a form of acidic liquid on the wound and the healing skin. He had to do this every morning. Every day at exactly 11 a.m. he would enter the room and the torture would begin. You know that stinging feeling you get when you have a small cut on your finger and lemon juice comes in touch with it? Imagine the same feeling, and multiply it, let’s say, about a hundred times. And there I thought my torture had ended.
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