Lise's youngest son, Joey, who's five years old, fell off a low swing last year directly onto his knee. The shock of the impact travelled up his femur and snapped off the head. Joey spent a week in hospital before having pins put into his bone, and then spent two months in a cast that completely encased one leg, left a space for a nappy, encircled his pelvis to the waist, and went down the leg to his other knee. He has been out of plaster for about a month, but is still immobile – or as immobile as a five-year-old can be. He went to the hospital (Paphos General) for a check-up yesterday, and Lise related the experience.
“The doctor – one of the eminent orthopaedic surgeons of Cyprus – looked at Joey, scratched his head, and said that the bottom of the break was healing nicely and the top was just beginning to knit. 'What now?' he mused. 'Crutches, I think. Go down to orthopaedic and the nurse there will teach you how to use them.'
“So we went down to Orthopaedic and the nurse there was someone we know well from the village... 'Yes, yes, we'll show you – but where are the crutches?' So Costas (Lise's husband) said 'I thought that you had them here...' 'Oh, no!' says the nurse. 'You need to supply them...' 'Where do we get them?' we asked. 'The doctor should know.'
“We called the doctor. No, he didn't have any and there weren't any in the hospital. Why not try the disabled shop at the end of the road?”
They took Joey – carrying him, of course – to the shop opposite the hospital which has all manner of wheelchairs, bedpans, bandages, canes, and other paraphernalia in the window. “Do you have children's crutches?” The smallest pair in the shop came to well above Joey's head.
“Crutches for children?” the clerk looked bemused. “Uh, no. Let me phone the supplier in Nicosia and see if they have some that they can send down to us.”
The supplier had none, and knew of no place that might have them.
“Let's try Yiannis' pharmacy,” suggested Costas.
So they get back into the car and head off to a pharmacy owned by another of Costas's co-villagers. Costas went in to ask, and in a few minutes returned: “Pass me Joey. Yiannis has none, but we are going to measure Joey, and then cut down a small pair that a friend of his is going to send from a pharmacy in Limassol.”
The crutches eventually came, and Joey tried them out, with indifferent success. “I think it's going to be a case of by-the-time-he-gets-used-to-them-we-wont-need-them-any-more,” sighed Lise. “But it just leaves me wondering if Joey is the only child who has ever broken his leg in Cyprus... He couldn't be – so what do they do with all the others?”
On a slightly different note, a paragraph in the Cyprus Mail makes thought-provoking reading: According to Doctor Marcos Phillipou, head of Casualty at Paphos General, by noon of Boxing Day, over 300 people had taken refuge at the emergency ward of Paphos hospital, the majority suffering from abdominal pains due to over consumption...