Living the Dream – 80. Lockdown

Before the Lockdown

Adamantios (his real name) took me through the CT. I’m sure he was speaking English, but when it comes to the medical terms, Greek remains the lingua franca. Spondylolisthesis was one of the more entertaining tongue-twisters.

I’m not sure I can accurately explain the breadth of the issues, nor indeed the intricacies of the solutions proposed. The recommendation was to operate. Then it wasn’t. Then it was again. I was getting dizzy. Poor Mags was increasingly confused and most important of all; in agony.

First hints

On Tuesday the 10th, as a response to Corona virus, the hospital limited patients to one designated visitor, who should wear a mask. Then, on Wednesday the 11th, all visiting was suspended. Margaret’s birthday on Thursday, she would be allowed no visitors. Tough.

The operation was now scheduled for Friday the 13th. Well, it would be, wouldn’t it?

Postponed

Then, on the morning of the 13th, Mags awoke with a sore throat. An ear nose and throat specialist examined her and declared the operation off, prescribing a course of antibiotics for a week. Moments later, Mags’ doctor informed her she was being discharged.

Put simply, while the pandemic rages, Mags is safer at home than in hospital.

Time for me to step up. “Nurse Lennon, your patient.”

As I type – the patient has survived 30 hours plus with no mishaps. That’s a start, I suppose.

I have learned a few things.

  1. Nursing is hard. Really hard. A professional nurse is nothing short of a superhero. Likewise those people who are full-time carers for a loved one.
  2. My fear of needles is personal. Turns out I’m fine sticking them into other people.
  3. There are always people worse off. With all that is going on – our problems shrink rapidly.

Lockdown

Right now, the government of Cyprus has effectively closed our borders, and all non-essential business. “Lockdown” is the new buzzword.

Dramatic times.

Now – how’s the patient?

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Living the Dream – 79. Field Test – Medical

Ambulance

“What?”

The paramedic eyed our straightest staircase with horror.

“If we go around the house, there are fewer steps,” I ventured.

We went off to explore this route, while the ambulance driver focused on turning the vehicle around, knocking over the lighting on the driveway as he did so.

Eventually we exited the house through one of the bedrooms. Keen to reassure the patient, strapped to the stretcher, Marios, the paramedic, said,

“This part is very dangerous. But don’t worry Mrs Lennon.”

He and I took the front end of the stretcher. A couple of times he let me bear the weight while he helped his colleague at the other end. A clever tactic to make me feel useful, I’m sure. Eventually, the Chuckle Brothers and I got Margaret into the ambulance. I picked up the hypodermic needle that had fallen to the floor and followed the ambulance to the hospital.

Accident and Emergency

As I entered the Accident and Emergency department from the car park, I met the stretcher coming in from the other side.

Margaret was pale.

“Marios tells me, this is the worst A&E in Europe.”

I made a note to talk to Marios about his over-sharing problem.

We were seen promptly and courteously.

“You need to see an Orthopaedic surgeon.” The A&E Doctor look harassed and tired.

“I know.”

“But they’re upstairs.”

“You have lifts?” I was trying to keep my tone neutral.

“But you can only see Orthopaedics, in the morning. You should come back then.” Dr Stress said.

Disappointing, I felt. “My wife can’t walk, can’t sit or travel in a car. How do I get her home?”

“Ambulance.”

“Ambulance? Had you seen the journey here, you wouldn’t say that. How do we come back?”

“Ambulance.”

“Three ambulances in 15 hours? Would it not be easier just to take her upstairs?”

“There are no beds.”

The Mediterranean

Ultimately, we whistled up a private ambulance and had Margaret admitted to the clinic that, if she could travel, she would have come to as an outpatient. It was half past nine at night.

“Insurance details, please.”

“We’re self-insured.”

Brows were furrowed.

I explained that I had phoned ahead and was happy to pay the medical costs.

“Right. Off we go.”

“Off we go where?” I asked, suspicious.

“CT scan.”

How the other (medical) half live.

After the scan, Margaret was admitted into a room in the surgical ward. Her roomie is an 83 year old who has just had a new knee. They prattle away at each other. I’m not sure that not sharing a common language is any impediment. Several nurses are in and out of the room constantly.

That night, for the first time in a week, Margaret was in good medical hands.

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Going Solo. 1. So, you want to go solo?

Readers have asked me how I got to go solo. Hence, this new category of posts. Over twenty weeks, I will spell out, step by step, how to go solo. Posts will go up each Wednesday. While comments are not enabled on the blog, I’m always happy to answer questions. Grab me on Twitter @stulennon

On Fridays, I post about #livingthedream. Margaret and I have upped sticks from the UK and now live on the Mediterranean island, Cyprus. Mostly, it has been fantastic, although there have been so real lows too. You can catch up by clicking on the category “Living the Dream” in the main menu.

Going Solo

A key element of crafting our dream life is the ability to work for ourselves. I choose when and where I work. If I want to go to the beach, I go to the beach. I am master of my own time.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? It is.

Commuting

I work from home. I have a ground floor office that looks out onto my garden. It has a daybed, a couple of desks and a host of my favourite things. I work here, I read here, sometimes I nap here. In the past, I enjoyed listening to podcasts on my long walk to the office. Now, I take a swim before I come to the office, and can listen to podcasts all day, if I choose.

Working Hours

I play golf. Not everybody’s thing, I know, but I love it. Three times a week, I’m at the club. I play, drink a beer with my friends, maybe have a meal. It’s a lot of fun.

Cyprus is hot. In summer, it’s really hot. There is air conditioning in the office, but I don’t use it. When it gets unbearably hot, I go for a swim, then take a nap.

It’s tough to fit golf and naps into a traditional “employed”, working week. Certainly, everywhere that I’ve worked took a dim view of me going to sleep in the afternoons.

The Beach

Honestly, I’m not much of a beach-bum. That said, a lounger in the shade, The Mediterranean at my feet and a frozen cocktail at my side is not the worst way to spend an afternoon. I can do that and call it work. Technology enables us to work from anywhere. Sometimes, I swing by the beach to do some work, just to remind myself that I can.

The Boss

I’m accountable only to myself. There is nobody pushing me to do things that I don’t enjoy, or that add no value to my day. I decide what needs to be done, by when. It’s liberating.

Lucky me, huh?

Make your own luck.

There are no guarantees in life. Nor do many get everything that they dream. However – we can be pretty sure that doing nothing, leads to nothing.

Life is for living. I didn’t wake up one morning and find myself working for myself. A series of decisions have got me here.

I’ll lead you through those decisions, week by week.

My writing is supported by people like you.  The Going Solo series is free to all, but there are other series, limited to members only. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.

Living the Dream – 51. Back on Track

Everything is back on track.

Returned

Margaret has returned, bringing the elves with her. The house looks tidier, smells nicer and everything is where it should be. Both Spice and I have a spring in our step.

Temporary?

But for how long? One of Margaret’s closest friends is at the bedside of her mother, who will pass away today after a sudden illness. That’s a punch of perspective in the face. Mags is considering whether she should be getting back on a plane. Spice and I have both declared that we’ll manage; with practice, we’re improving.

Review

My ten days of golf, (which was actually eight days, one hiking day and one rest day) were lots of fun. I am fitter, striking the ball better and even managed to avoid rehydrating with beer. Whilst I feel spritely, my trousers are still tighter than I would like; having dealt with the ‘move more’ part of the equation, I now need to face the ‘eat less’ part. Boo.

Time

I love playing golf, and it is a great way of getting exercise that is appropriate for a round middle-aged man. But, my, it takes a long time. Let me explain.

  1. Commute. The course is 25 minutes drive away. So, if I’m due on the tee at 0800, I leave the house at 0700. This will require me to getup at 0530 / 0600 to get Spice exercised and fed.
  2. A round takes anything between 3.5 and 5 hours. Usually 4 to 4.5. So, I’m coming off the course around 1230.
  3. It’s traditional to raise a glass with your flight, and I’ll take the opportunity to order some lunch too. That’ll take me to 1330 / 1400.
  4. Half an hour home. 1430 / 1500.
  5. Play with Spice, get a wash on and have a swim and shower. Hang the washing out to dry. 1530 / 1600.

At this point, I’m ten hours into my day and pretty tired. A nap looks much more attractive than any work.

Add in dinner and some TV, my day is done. I need to get back on track with work.

Balance

So – much though I love playing golf, there is no way in the world that I can sustain playing every day or close to it. “Poor you”, I hear you think. You’re right, this is not a first world problem, it’s a privileged, entitled, complete non-problem.

It has taught me that a “leisure-only” lifestyle does not appeal to me. I missed working, I missed “margin”, by which I mean, time that is not assigned to anything specific.

There we are. Pushing fifty, and I’ve worked out that life requires balance. Better late than never, I suppose. Time to get back on track.

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Living the Dream – 49. Award-winning pooch

Spice is an award-winning pooch. On Saturday, “Rescue and Rehome Cyprus” ran a fair at our local taverna, Lenia’s. Margaret had a table for her Grief Recovery Method site, not because she saw it as an opportunity to grow the business, but as a chance to support RnR.

The Down

As is the way with this type of event, timings ran askew, and I arrived just as the “Best Rescue dog” category was being judged. Disaster. I felt sure that Spice would have become our award-winning pooch in this category, but I was too late. Crestfallen, Spice and I retired to the bar. The least I could do was buy her a beer, I thought. Spice took the setback well. This was her first time in a crowd of humans, tiny humans and dogs and the whole experience was captivating for her. She was particularly taken with the tiny humans.

The Up

Spice was now entered in the “Best in Show” category. The major leagues! Nervous, I handed the lead to Margaret, who had, over the last six weeks, worked with Spice in obedience classes.
Well. Ladies and Gentlemen, my nerves were unnecessary. Spice was born to the catwalk. Rather than wag her tail, Spice wags her bum, walking with her head held high. She made eye contact with every tiny human that she had charmed earlier. As she approached the children, she laid on her back, allowing them to tickle her tummy and coo. Within seconds, she had the tiny humans chanting “This is the Winner!” at the vet tasked with judging the show. Resistance was futile in the face of the little people’s vote and it was only a matter of time before the judge declared Spice the winner, making her an award-winning pooch.

Strength

We rescued Spice at 8 weeks old, 6 months ago, in the aftermath of losing our beloved Nero. She is as sharp as a tack, playful and affectionate. She launches herself into every moment with complete commitment, enthusiasm and joy. It’s impossible to feel down in her presence.
As I sat with a celebratory beer, I could not have been prouder, of Spice, yes; but more of Margaret, who has battled back from an horrific experience with courage and fortitude. Living the Dream got off to the worst possible start for her, but she’s still here, making it happen.

Nero’s NotesNero’s Notes supports Rescue and Rehome Cyprus with a £1 from every subscription sold. They are a wonderful charity, doing a difficult and important job.

My writing is supported by people like you. Membership costs £12 per year. For this princely sum, you will get access to subscriber only posts, direct access to a members chatroom , and a digital copy of any and all work that I publish in the year. Become a member.