Monthly Archives: July 2018

36 Hours and a Bionic Implant

I suppose it is time to talk about this.

Through last winter I (Ashley) was feeling very breathless, I put it down to the smoke and air pollution, used ventolin, it seemed to help a bit.  Then in late January when I was in the UK I started having chest pain.  I put it down to the severe cold and since the discomfort wasn’t particularly disabling and stopped if I rested I did not think too much of it.

Then once back in Selçuk I decided it was probably a good idea to go see my family doctor.  Things happened fast.  An ECG was done, she was worried about it so an ambulance was called to take me to the local hospital.  They did more tests and another ECG.  This resulted in another ambulance and then being blue-lighted to Medical Park, a big private hospital in Izmir.  They did some more tests, wired me up for monitoring, filled me up with some pills, and scheduled an angiogram and potential angioplasty for the following day.  I’m not sure what all the pills were but they made me drowsy so I don’t remember a great deal.  I Know Hilary was there, I know lots of forms were signed, I know some bits were explained to me, and there are some gaps.

Next day after more sedation I get taken in for the angiogram, during which they followed up with an angioplasty fitting one stent.  This was followed by a few hours in a Cardiac ICU before later that evening being moved back out to a more regular ward.  This was good, I did not like ICU, though to be honest I slept through some of it.  At least on the regular ward Hilary was able to be present so I had some company and the sedation had worn off.

The following morning I got to see the cardiologist again, was told that one artery was 90% blocked, that a medicated stent has been fitted, that there are some other arteries with a  bit of build up but nothing to worry about.  I was told to lose weight, watch diet, put on a regime of pills, clopidogrel, aspirin and a statin, and sent home.  They said to rest for 24 hours and then return to normal activity, and obviously if there were any problems to go straight back, and with planned follow up in one month.

I spent 36 hours in a modern and swish private hospital, with state of the art equipment and everything that could be expected in terms of care, a major physical intervention, and time in ICU.  The cost to me, zero, all picked up by the Turkish state health insurance I pay.  The care was generally fantastic, though to be honest these days it all runs through clinical pathways.  The doctors did what they needed to do and seemed extraordinarily competent.  The nurses do less than they do in the UK, here family or friends are expected to attend to basic stuff, what they did do they did efficiently and by the book.  It’s tick box nursing, but at least they followed the protocols and if there was reason to escalate they did so.   It was my first (and hopefully my last) major encounter with health care here in Turkey, all I can say is the standard of care was fantastic and as said all picked up by state health insurance.

I’ve lost weight since then, 5 kilos or so, something which needed to happen.  The cholesterol is down and where it needs to be.  Lifestyle changes have been made.  Clopidogrel is a pain in the proverbial, if I cut myself I bleed more, but I’ll be on it for a while.  I’m now on follow up every three months and the doctors are very happy with my progress.   So all good, onwards and upwards to new things in life.

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Κλήδονα – a Traditional Greek Rite

Festival8

We heard that there was to be some sort of local celebration in the village square, we assumed it would be linked to one or more saints – these things often are, and given the date had a connection to John the Baptist.  We were told there would be live music and dancing and jumping over fires.  Jumping over fires we are familiar with, this happens in Turkey earlier in the year.  Anyway, we thought it would be fun to head up to the square, eat at the taverna, drink some beer, and watch the events unfold.

Fortunately a friend, Simon, had booked a table.  We’d have been squeezed in somewhere but this was nearer the front and not indoors.  So we settled down to chat and watch, chat for a while because nothing much was happening yet, and nothing much would happen until the sun went down.

What we witnessed was quite strange.  Two figures draped in cloth and clearly unable to see were led into the square by groups of women, some in traditional dress.  The figures were then seated and some sort of conversation or ritual took place between representatives.  This was all in Greek, it was clearly poetic, and had elements of humour.  One woman would say something, then there would be a retort, and this continued back and forth for some time.  We had no idea what the content was but it was fascinating to watch.  What was clear it that it was clearly female thing so probably not as linked to John the Baptist as we initially thought. After much applause the draped figures were led away.

Then there was traditional music and dancing.  The dancing is familiar to us, it is very similar in Turkey.  Same clothing, similar steps, but more mixing of male and female, so definitely not traditional Turkish where that would not happen.  The music was particularly good, and we learned that the musicians were considered to be some of the best on the island.

At the same time three fires were lit on the street and there was some sort of traditional fire jumping.  This was mostly children.  Some would just jump over one fire, others who were more brave ran down the street and jumped each in succession.  It was all watched carefully by adults and there were water extinguishers suitably placed just in case.  Nothing unfortunate or bad happened, the children seem to have lots of fun.

Afterwards the musicians continued and there was more dancing.  By this time we were very full of food, the taverna had kept up a supply to all the tables which must have taken some doing given how many tables there were many of which were piled up with plates for food.  Needless to say the beer, wine and ouzo were also flowing.

Towards the end we were given a rolled up sheet with more details on what the earlier rite was about and an apology because it was all in Greek.  More on this in a future post – Hilary translated it.

The evening ended rather abruptly when there was an orange glow in the sky from a field on fire and some ash being carried into the village.  This caused some concern but it appeared the local fire service dealt with it quickly and no great harm was done.