Monday, 8 October 2018
A Day in..... the life of .....Lydia Pinkham
Unfortunately not a typical day for a retired person living on a greek island expecting hours of coffee drinking, people watching, with nothing more important than getting to the bread shop early to snag a loaf of sourdough.
I had to make my 3 monthly trip to our cardio doc for a prescription renewal. Nothing particularly serious. Bit of arrhythmia going on there, nothing I ever notice or worry about. Atrial fibrillation as well, (more erratic beating) not that I am ever aware of that either. Crossing my fingers he is not about to send me off for anuual blood tests or some other tiresome exam.
There are several docs on the island now, 2 blood testing centres and our new mayor bought us a new ambulance. And the ambulance has a driver! (there are municipal elections next year)
Years ago there was one doctor down at the little health place, wouldn't call it a 'centre' back then. Nothing but a doctor and maybe a nurse/receptionist. It was free. We could take the kids there for measles vaccination, snuffs, sniffles and a bit of stitching. My daughter had her eyebrow nicely stitched up there when about 6 years old. Doctors usually came and went, on contract for a couple of years as work experience. Experience is the word. They left here knowing a little about a lot. From heart attacks to bee sting reactions, scraped knees and serious head injuries from a motorcycle crash, without a helmet. They certainly left richer. There was usually a small 'envelope' passed under the table as thanks or a tin of olive oil, a few bottles of wine, octopus or bags of fresh fish, or just 'thanks'.
If you couldn't find the doctor you rushed to the chemist or pleaded with the guard on duty at the Naval Base. Back then the base had hundreds of conscripts and there was always a doctor on duty, though he might be a trainee dermotologist or a dentist.
In an emergency a helicopter would be summoned from the capitol for transfer to an Athens hospital or the hydrofoil which overnighted on Poros could be commandeered to take a patient at speed. Often even on the scheduled hydrofoil (known as the Flying Dolphin) there would be a stretcher in the aisle or a front seat taken by someone with a tube or drip in their arm coming from the islands further out of Hydra or Spetses.
Now the helicopter is rarely heard. It is faster to drive to Nafplion or Argos, big cities an hour away and the Flying Dolphin, not only does not stay overnight in Poros but has a very depleted timetable. You'd die waiting for that or the boat. Boats used to be five or six a day, now we're lucky if there are three a week, in the summer only.
Then a Health Centre for Poros, Galatas and surrounding villages opened across the waters and there was always a small boat on duty, even if you had to whistle him up to sail you over the strait. In its heyday it had numerous specialists coming from the big hospitals in Athens also an x-ray machine. You could get a prescrition for new glasses or have your leg put in plaster, all free. Today there is at least one doctor on 24 hour duty. Any serious cases are sent on by ambulance. They do seem to have a driver over there also on 24 hours duty. Specialists, Orthopedic or Cardio still come every few weeks but the waiting list can be a month or so.
We've had to use the centre in the small hours in mid winter and have always been very appreciative of the doctors and their work. During the day it handles emergency cases from the villages. Blood testing and x-rays are still done there. Most patients are simply very patiently waiting for prescription renewals. There can be hours of waiting but everyone knows someone, is related to the person sitting next to them or will turn out to be after a few hours there and times passes in learning local news and gossip.
Heavens to Betsy, this was supposed to be 'a day in the life of' but I got sidetracked with this medical stuff. And that is just an outline of island medicine.
Let me just tell you that when my husband worked at the Naval Base (he was a Naval officer and posted to Poros for many years) the highest number of emergency cases they dealt with on one night was always with the mid summer August full moon. The casualties those nights were always record making, from drunks to broken bones and heart attacks ( even though we all live on your typical healthy mediterranean diet), mostly in the wee hours, under the influence, of that silvery orb .
Today, the cardio doctor only had two patients waiting when I arrived. He is very thorough and he had each of them in there for half an hour. I read a greek magazine and then learnt all about the back operation of the Great-grand-mother of the wife of my nephew and was priviledged to be shown the scars of her knee operation. Could have been much worse. I myself was in and out in five minutes, got my 3 month prescription, a prescription for the free flu shot for the elderly. Me? Elderly? Ye gods and little fishes. All for 10euro, cash, no receipt.
I went straight down to the chemist where fortunately all my medicine was available.Sometimes it has to be ordered from Athens and there is a waiting list for unavailable medicines. I paid a subsidised 22 euros, instead of the 83 without insurance and Nektaria, our wonderful chemists assistant, got me rolling up my sleeve and jabbed me with the flu shot. That girl is always friendly, helpful, understands and puts up with the impatient and the dithering elderly, Not Me!, and speaks excellent english. She gives damn good advice for people or pets and painless jabs.
That brought me up till just before 12am
This day shall continue in the next post.......
Reminded me of this pub song from the 1800s' made into a popular hit by the Scaffolds. Anyone remember them?
Number one hit in 1968/69.
We'll drink a drink, a drink, a drink
To Lily the pink, the pink, the pink
Saviour of the human race
She invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case