Monday, 11 November 2013

More Snaps and Some Surgery

I don't know if I should tell you this, but I have a hernia. It's a bit of a saga of a story really because, way back in the mists of time, about three months before I got married in fact, which would have been, ooh, before there was hair, I had one then too. It had sprung (right adjective there?) from the fact that I'd done a part time job for a while in a TV and radio shop in Bath called Ryland Huntley, at the bottom of Milsom Street and just two doors away from Carwardines, the delicious fresh coffee shop which used to roast its own blends of ground coffee on the premises. 

To have described working in Huntleys as torture, when I was unpacking TV sets and lovingly dusting B&O hi-fi systems that I'd never be able to afford myself, whilst being perpetually tormented by that delicious coffee aroma drifting along the street would be putting it mildly. See, back in those days it was the TV sets that were huge, with great big pregnant backs and very heavy cathode ray tubes inside them, whilst more men were slim and lithe owing to their doing a lot more physical graft. These days of course, it's the other way round. TVs are wafer thin and most couch potato blokes have the huge bellies, eh? You've probably seen this before, but it's very accurate, I think...

The One on the left is spot on for me in 1973!!
So, anyway, after a few months of precariously climbing very high step ladders, holding huge cardboard boxes which contained TV sets like the one on the left above, so that I could stack them on top of a dozen other boxes of similar size, I knew I had something wrong down below. A visit to the GP confirmed that I had myself a hernia on the right side and this was going to need surgery.

Well, here I am now 40 years later with a similar problem, only on the other side, so it was off to the local doctor's surgery in Gennadi a couple of weeks ago. Now, the system out here is quite different from way things are done in the UK. In the UK the GP will assess the situation and, having decided that you need to go to hospital, will refer you, right? I mean, you'll go home and wait for the letter summoning you to attend at such and such a date. Here it's much more laid back. I'll explain.

There I was dropping my trousers just far enough for this young doctor (who looked to me like he'd just put his Lego bricks down, he was that young) to have a gander and then he says, "Hmm, yes. It had better be sorted out. Do you have a surgeon in mind?"

I kid you not. I really felt like saying, "Oh yes, of course. I'm on first name terms with all the staff at the Rhodes General Hospital. We're always hobnobbing over a Metaxa or two, don't you know!" What I actually said was, "Well, no." The Doc replied that there were several surgeons in Rhodes who carry out such procedures, and I'd be better deciding myself which one to approach. He then looked at me questioningly once again. In a blinding flash I suddenly thought of my businessman friend Stelios in Rhodes Town, someone who regularly visits sick friends in the hospital and does know a lot of people there. He's that kind of guy.

"Shall I call my friend?" I asked the child across the desk, to which he said, "Yes, sure."

So, you can picture the scene. Here I am sitting in the local surgery calling my friend on my mobile phone. He answers and asks me how I am, how's Maria, what's the weather like down our way and the like. I reply affably and then cut to the chase. "Stelio," I begin, "Can you recommend a surgeon to operate on my hernia by any chance?"

Stelios replies, "Well, there's so and so, and then there's also..." whereupon I interrupt and suggest that he talk directly to the GP across the desk from me. So now, I'm feeling that all this is very surreal as I end up sitting and waiting while the GP chats to my friend on my mobile phone, saying things like "Yea, OK. Well he'd be a good one, 'cos he knows me. You have his mobile number by any chance?" ...and so on.

The upshot was that a surgeon was agreed upon and I was given his mobile phone number and told that I'd need to call him to arrange an initial examination at the hospital, before being booked in for the operation. Now I don't know about you, but I felt a bit nervous about cold-calling a surgeon. 1: The bloke who'd done my other side way back in Bath, UK in the middle ages was the kind of man who wore half-glasses and struck fear in the poor mortals who he deigned to help with his scalpel. I had vivid memories of him sitting on the end of my bed after I'd been "done" and feeling like I was in the presence of greatness, what with his high forehead and greying temples and stuff. After all, I was only about twenty and he was probably 60-ish.

2: What if I called the bloke just as he was inserting a scalpel into some other patient in theatre? I wouldn't want to be responsible for some other poor soul getting a bigger and more untidy scar than he or she deserved, always assuming that the shock of the phone ringing didn't lead to some inner organ being punctured or anything like that!

So, I decided to text him. I know, ...weird isn't it. I texted a surgeon I'd never met before to tell him that he'd been selected to sort out my hernia. Mind you, I came up trumps I think. The bloke called me back right away (evidently not in theatre then. That is of course, unless he was holding someone's carotid between his thumb and forefinger and telling his assistants around the operating table, "I'll just get this"!) and he was friendliness itself. We arranged a time of mutual convenience and I duly drove up to the hospital last Saturday morning, which brings me, finally, to why I can call this post "More Snaps and Some Surgery". On the way back from having seen the surgeon, who was a really nice bloke it turns out. Not at all condescending and very good at putting one at one's ease, I was able to take a detour down to Agathi Beach, so that I could snap a few shots showing how amazing the place is once the sunbeds are all gone. A couple of winters ago I had a request to show a shot or two of Agathi and I was only able to oblige after some delay with one quick shot. This time, with the weather absolutely perfect at 23ºC, a clear sky and hardly a breath of wind, I took these folks...

Looking over the back of Haraki and across to Lindos, from the lane leading down to Agathi Beach
We'd have done a skinny dip, had there not been a couple of blokes fishing, drat!

Hope those give you a brief moment of pleasure. Plus, a few days earlier, when it had in fact been mainly cloudy, I took these in Lahania...

It's amazing how they get palm fronds to grow out of electricity posts like that, isn't it?

...And this one in a quiet part of Gennadi...

Finally, to return to the story of my upcoming operation: what is very good here is that you don't wait for months to get your op done. Whilst I was with him, the surgeon had flipped open his appointment book (nothing as advanced as a computer diary in sight) and apologised that I'd have to wait a couple of weeks, which was owing to the fact that he's nipping off to a conference in Berlin this coming week, then operating in a hospital in Crete before returning to Rhodes. But, I'm booked to check into my hospital bed on November 28th, for the operation to take place on Friday the 29th. So, further reports will follow.

That is, of course, as long as some other bloke with a hernia doesn't call the surgeon just as he's inserting his scalpel into my abdomen, thus causing me major injury and loss of life...


  1. Woah!!!!, the pictures of Agathi gave four of us here more than a brief moment of pleasure,Thankyou for that. Good luck on the 29th!!

    "Porridge Oats"

  2. Love the pics of the back streets(I guess they are all back streets) in Lachania.
    I wouldn't have worried about interrupting a surgeon mid-procedure, as it were. He might have just put down his scalpel to take a cigarette break!! Now, that's an image to hold in your mind for 29th, ha ha!
    Hope it all goes well and very best wishes for Saturday when you enter your 7th decade

    1. 7th decade? You must be mistaken, must be thinking of someone else. I'm only 21... Mind you, the maths don't add up any more!!!

  3. You're right about the maths not adding up. I can't understand how my sons are older than me!
    By the way, remember after hernia repair, NO hoovering for at least 4 weeks!

  4. John you will have to keep me up to date on your operation as you now I am going back to the UK on the 15th and will still be away when you have the deed done so will wish you the best of luck now

    1. Thanks Stuart. Hope the trip goes well and things can be sorted out quickly and easily. I shall be ready to give you a blow-by-blow account when you get back here!

  5. Approaching your 7th decade? are you sure, am not believing this at all, late 50th maybe. Hope all goes well with op and NHS need to take a leaf out of the Greek hospital system, having sampled it myself I know how good they are and much better than ours.