Thursday, October 11, 2012

Frog & Flower

Yesterday morning, Mili phoned me:  "Are you at home?"


"I have something to show you.  I'll be there in a minute."

Within seconds, she was at the door.

"I was preparing the anthus," she said, holding out the huge yellow courgette blossom which she had been getting ready to stuff with a mix of rice, tomato, and herbs.  "And look what was inside!  Usually I find an ant or two and shake them out, but this seemed a little heavy..."

I released him in the rain-spashed vegetable patch and he hopped away with a mellow croak.

Also submitted to The Gallery.  Please follow the link and see what others posted on the theme of 'Yellow'.


This week's Gallery theme is 'Yellow', so I flicked back through some Lightroom archives and found some pictures from the swimming classes that Zenon and Leo took with Sue at the International School pool a few years back.  I loved the way that the afternoon light picked out colours in the floats and the pool and asked Sue if I could take pictures.  She was thrilled, and I think used them for her website.  Unfortunately politics, as usual, intervened and the school made it difficult for Sue, a foreigner, to continue working from their facilities.

To see how other participants handled the prompt, please follow the link to the Gallery.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Friend From Long Ago and Far Away

Several times for different reasons over the last few years I have trembled on the cusp of departing Facebook forever. One thing always stays my hand: it is a wonderful means of finding old friends and then keeping in touch.

Last week, thanks in part to Facebook, a classmate from the Canberra Church of England Girls Grammar School -- whom I hadn't seen for nearly four decades -- stopped by for a visit: Carolyn L and her friend Sharon M were doing a tour of the Middle East and Southern Europe with their teenage sons Chris and Sam, and they stayed in Paphos in for three wonderful days.

Photo thanks to Carolyn
I recognised Caz as soon as she got off the airport bus in Limassol. Of course I had seen FB pictures, but she looked pretty much like a larger, older version of the schoolgirl I had played with so long ago. After introductions all around, we piled into my little Toyota and drove back, via the Donkey Stable, to the villa that I had rented for them from BB's cousin in the village. We yabbered nineteen to the dozen all the way back – mostly about their recent stay in Oman, but sprinkled with many a reminiscence. All four travellers were pretty knackered from an early start and a long flight, but after a swim in the villa's pool and a rest they came over in the evening for a meal and to meet my crew – which was sadly lacking Sophia (at school, of course) and Best Beloved (who had gone to visit her for the weekend).

They spent the next few days exploring this end of the island -- up into the mountains and the coast to Polis, not missing out on Paphos Zoo, to where Caz had sent several parrots a few years back. I  couldn't join them for those trips, but we had two evenings to catch up on the last thirty-seven years. The boys took themselves to the far end of the veranda for ping-pong or out to the fields for whatever boys to in the Great Outdoors. Sam and Chris fit right in with my three despite – or maybe because of – the age difference, while Caz and I rebuilt our long-sundered friendship and I got to know Sharon.

On Sunday I was free and they had until three o'clock when the bus left for Nicosia, so we spent a few hours exploring the Tombs of the Kings before heading to Gavrilis Taverna in Kouklia for lunch.

Without Facebook, without the re-connection that I had initiated two or three years ago when I sent the first tentative message “Are you the Carolyn L that I went to CCEGGS with in the early '70s?”, and that reforging of bonds and rediscovery of what made us friends so long ago, she and Sharon would have made their plans and travelled their route, maybe wonderful nonetheless, but missing the extra dimension of catching up on an old friendship.  Perhaps we would have even crossed paths on the road to or from the town, unknowing...

I wish that they had had a few days longer – that we could have caught up more on deeper family news and what had gone on in our own lives over the last 37 years. I wish I could have got to know Sharon a little better – we seemed to have a lot in common. But three days was our ration this time around, so I drove them to the bus and saw them off to the Big Smoke where city lights and traffic noise would replace the quiet of the Diarizos Valley with its lazy chameleons and emerald green tree frogs.

Tree frogs int he oleander.  Photo thanks to Carolyn

From Nicosia they hit Athens for a day or two, then Barcelona, then back to Oz via Dubai – a lightning trip if ever there was one. I have kept up with them through FB pictures of the Acropolis and Gaudi's Casa Batllo, and will – no doubt – see the Burj Tower shots. Wonderful! I'm sure I'll complain about Facebook again in the future, but the gift of their visit made many of its drawbacks worth the gripes.

Group Shot at Tombs of the Kings.  Photo thanks to Carolyn.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Little Lame Donkey

Three or four months ago micro tears in one of my left shoulder's rotator cuff muscles were aggravated by a routine movement in an osteopath's treatment room causing instant pain that flared and quickly died. I didn't think much of it until shadows and whispers of the same pain began to haunt me throughout the summer.

'Swimming will help!' I thought. And hit the beach daily though July and much of August, swimming sometimes up to 800 metres in the sea – except I could not do front crawl; it was too uncomfortable. I switched to breast stroke.

An imagined tarantula in my post-shower towel one evening (imagined that time, they have been known to be real) made me twist my body and shoulder, and a nano-second later I was curled, weeping, on the bathroom floor. Again the pain died quickly, but this time the shadows and whispers of its recurrence gained more form and substance. I knew that the time had come to seek help, but I had had bad experiences with several local physiotherapists and wanted to wait until J, an English lady who used to work with the British athletics team, returned from the Olympics.

Cue a third trauma: when my arm was accidentally pulled over my head, the pain gave a resounding shout. I knew that things were serious.

J returned and I drove fifty minutes up into the hills to her sports injury clinic. 'Tendon tear', she said succinctly, explaining that it was the result of long-term stresses (if I had known when lifting 15 kilos of BCD and scuba tanks over my head day in and day out for three years that I would suffer later, would I have continued it? Huh! But I can't say that I wasn't warned...) probably from overworking or trying to prove that I had upper-body strength equal to a man. She gave me a massage and exercises and sent me home with a follow-up appointment in two weeks.

Ice packs and exercises seemed to reduce the problem and I was regaining some of the mobility and losing some of the pain, when suddenly two weeks ago I turned the wrong way in my sleep and landed, not back at Square One, but at Square Minus Ten.

“Oh pooh!” said J. “Much more swollen, not good at all. And you can hardly move it!” She gave me another lovely massage, and encouraged me, but warned that many times the only sure route to fixing a tendon tear is via the operating table.

“Go and see my mother's orthopaedic surgeon, Manamou,” said Best Beloved. “We need you fixed.”

So I did, but the visit was not a success. I had the feeling that he was a fine doctor, but we did not do well on the personal level. “Frozen shoulder,” he told me, writing a scrip for an MRI and saying: “That needs to be treated first – probably with oral cortisone – and we'll deal with tears and impingement surgically later.” Except that he said it all in Greek, having told me at the beginning of our appointment that he did not speak English, and leaving me at a distinct disadvantage.

I had the MRI and the report returned replete with '-oses' and '-itises' as well as mentioning a 'partial thickness tear of the distal supraspinatus tendon', and that evening, Dr X phoned me back. “It's not good news,” he said in perfect English. “You will need to have a surgery, and although it's not an emergency, I would like to see you as soon as is convenient.”

The last week has been very bad – mostly because of the impossibility of sleep. I took Ibuprofen but it didn't seem to help. Last night I took a combination of Paracetamol and Codeine that had been prescribed for Sophia when her plantars wart was lasered, and at last I got some proper rest.

This morning, I took Best Beloved to my appointment with Dr X – not only as a translator, but as someone who is not cowed by either personalities or terminology, and is not afraid to ask questions.

They got on like a house afire, and the doctor reiterated J's opinion that the tendon damage had taken place long ago. ("You mean that you were flawed when I married you?" BB turned to me in surprise.  "Can I send you back?  Get a replacement?") Dr X said that that the frozen shoulder needs to be treated before any other issues can be addressed, and wants to do this with oral corticosteroids:  “This is the German protocol,” he said. “I know that the English prefer injection into the joint, but there is a risk of tendon necrosis. You must be careful not to eat too much sugar or salt and limit alcohol. I will see you in two weeks, and I think that you will have a great improvement both with pain and mobility.” I asked him about non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and he said that they were not as effective, that I would have to take them for a long time, and that they were hard on the stomach. “Nothing is completely risk-free,” he said. “But with this schedule, I will be able to do the surgery in about a month.”

So, I start tomorrow. Five days of 40 miligrams of cortisone, followed by 5 days of 30, then 5 days each of twenty, ten, five, and 2.5 mg. Then a trip to the hospital, and an op followed by physiotherapy...

Watch this space...