Volos, Greece – June 10 – 15, 2008.
The vomiting and diarrhea began in N’Djamena on the morning of the 7th. By the afternoon I was bed-ridden but had to catch the plane to Paris late that night.
Fortunately, I had an aisle seat. Happily, the toilets were mostly vacant. Once home the morning of the 8th, I shat on the toilet God as much as I prayed to her. And so went the night. In the meantime Sonja had arrived and of course no quick stop over in Paris is complete without a visit to the picturesque Butte aux Cailles for her traditional ‘Petit Punch’ with rum. I drank Coke.
The morning of the 9th we were off to the airport and I limped into the plane for Athens.
Once in Athens my bowels told me we had to leave Dodge. The Greek capital is no place to lose you guts. The all night train to Volos with a change in Larissa was interesting to say the least. I could talk about the jetsam of Greece on that low-cost night train but that is not the angle of this story.
We found a wonderful room in a hotel called Jason with view front and left on the Port. (Volos is where Jason and his Argonauts left from 2,500 years earlier) But that night my insides just dripped out of me and I knew this was serious.
“Sonja,” I said. “I have to go to the hospital.” And that is where I spent the next couple of days.
I asked Sonja if she would describe the hospital as “dirty or filthy”? She said she would describe it as “Greek”.
The front of the hospital had been redone. I don’t know about the other wards but mine had not changed since World War Two. In my ward were the elderly and others who seemed on the ‘to die’ list. You cannot smoke in the hospital so on the balcony of each open room, visitors sat and puffed away, their smoke drifting into the ward.
Everything goes on the floor from wipes to syringes. The nurse dropped my dressing on the floor, picked it up and stuck it on my arm over the drip they had just successfully inserted on the third try. I realized if I did not get out of the hospital I could get really sick.
They drugged me. I slept.
I was awoken by loud-mouthed, macho and frustrated head doctors. They are loud and Macho because they are Greek. They are frustrated because they know all the best doctors had left the country for better jobs.
The lovely and extremely competent doctor who tended me said she is moving to Australia as soon as she marries her French boyfriend. She earns only 1,100 euros a month and has to put up with the verbal abuse of the Über (Ober) Artz.
On the twelfth the loud mouths figured the diarrhea had stopped based on the simple fact I had not been to the toilet. “Come back tomorrow for your test results.”
That night my insides dripped all over the bed. What did I catch in Chad? Sonja was being extra careful. I bought adult diapers.
Sonja was happy to hear the news. I was really pissed off. I had taken all the precautions. I managed to crawl as far as Volos. And all I could do was watch Sonja eat the greatest fish in the world, drink cold Retsina wine and leave me to dine on white rice and water.
At least I am now an expert on the Greek hospital in Volos.