Surgery in a foreign country is never fun. On the other hand, where better to have an operation than in Hippocrates General Hospital, Thessaloníki?
Post-operatively, I was lying unconscious in the recovery room as my eyes floated in the corner of the ceiling and two walls. It was comforting to sense my eyes keeping watch.
Two orderlies came in discussing their chances of Kukla winning in the third at Markopoulo, jump at 4:51. My unconscious mind was pleased and amazed that I could understand every word, even though I was unconscious and I don’t speak Greek. The Recovery Nurse started taking my obs as a Ward Nurse came in to see if I’d woken up. ‘Where’s the peth?’ she asked. ‘In the burette or did you inject her?’
Again, I was pleased to understand every word. ‘It’s in the burette,’ I replied helpfully. The two nurses stared at me, lying there unconscious, speaking in Greek.
I started to wake up, but before opening my eyes, I reached up and touched my eyelids, pleased to feel my eyeballs under the skin.
After a reassuring smile and a nod, the Ward Nurse had a peek under my surgical dressing. Then she and an orderly wheeled me to a nearby ward. The nurse took another set of obs, charted the results, and suggested, in broken English, that I get a bit of sleep. In seconds I was out like a light, even if my subconscious was hard at work on arguably the weirdest dream of my life. Correction: Probably a recreation of an actual event.
Yet again my eyes were floating in the corner of the ceiling and two walls. This time, however, I was in the very upper-middle class bedroom of a mansion in Polygyros. The furniture was not really to my taste; massive, heavy mahogany bedstead, dresser and armoire, but there was a delightful view out the open window of the rolling hills of an olive grove. Rather less delightful was the sight of my own body. Let’s be honest; the sight of my own corpse, lying in that enormous bed. Three women, all dressed in black were kneeling at my bedside in fervent prayer.
Observing myself with keen interest, I noted that I was only about twenty-five years old and certainly very Greek and very beautiful in appearance. In other words, quite different from my current incarnation; Linda Barnes, a retired, recently widowed, solo traveller from far-flung Australia. Some kind soul had bathed and dressed me completely in black. Again, not really to my taste, but it was a thoughtful gesture, I felt, as my eyes performed a quick and horrifying flashback.
There I was, in the same bed, bathed in sweat, gasping my last, with oceans of blood under and between my legs. My swollen abdomen clued me in that I had died, quite obviously, in childbirth.
Returning to the mourning scene, I spared a thought for the baby. Even though it was far too late to worry, I hoped that the baby had survived. But would my grieving widower manage? Did he have a sister or an auntie who could help him with… I suddenly wondered if I had had a boy or a girl.
My worries were interrupted by the entrance into the room of the most superb male I have ever seen. He was a cross between Adonis and Omar Sharif with the deepest, brownest eyes in the world. I suddenly felt a ridiculous sense of pride. One glance was enough to tell me that this paragon was my husband, whom I loved with an all-encompassing passion and devotion. What good fortune to have married the handsomest man in Greece! My baby was certain to be a stunner! On the other hand, I had just died. I would not be able to enjoy the prestige of a beautiful husband, mansion and baby. Then I considered how desperately my husband and baby would miss me.
Feeling all kinds of compassion for my inconsolable husband, I watched as he kneeled to the left of the other mourners. I was perplexed, however, by a radiant smile playing across his lips, as if he were in a toothpaste advertisement. He reached out and touched the hand of the woman to his right. I could hardly believe my eyes as he gave that woman – my mourner, for pity’s sake – a playful wink and a nod. She countered with a squeeze of his hand as she licked her lips in a prurient display of lust.
As my eyes performed an instantaneous return to their sockets, I decided to let the ghosts of the past enjoy a well-deserved rest. Besides which it was time for me to wake up and have my obs taken yet again.
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