A Trip to Greece – week 6

Week 6

We slept in until 7 a.m. Wow. I went downstairs and B.S.’d with the maid, JoAnna. Smiths called from Florida (neighbor lady I walked with while they were here) and offered to pay her expenses to come to Florida to care for his Mother. She is going. Her brother lives in Toronto.
I brought breakfast up for Doris. Then after breakfast, I walked into Glyfada. The store I wanted wasn’t open yet so I walked an extra block, I still wasn’t open so I went to an enormous toy store. I killed half an hour there. The store I wanted finally opened and I didn’t have enough money. I didn’t know they had video tapes we can play at home. So, I walked back to the hotel, told Doris what I had found. She wanted one also, so Dimitris took us down and back. He is very sick today, even more so than yesterday. I certainly hope we don’t catch it. JoAnna that runs the gift shop in the hotel is sick with it too. I think it is strep throat.
We spent the afternoon sorting and packing our bags. I’m glad we started early and that I stuffed a large duffle bag in my carry-on which is all I brought over. I bought cheap T-shirts as I needed them and a spare pair of jeans. The duffle bag is stuffed with my new wardrobe and gifts for everyone at home. I’ve kept track of every purchase and have a list made up of items, price and exchange rate for Customs for each of us.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. We were in the lobby by 6:30 a.m., ready to go. I can’t exactly say bright eyed and bushy tailed, because we ain’t.
Dimitris was on time and we got checked in with our luggage checked through to Anchorage. Their idea of a wheelchair all the way and ours differ vastly. Airport Security is far better than when we arrived. Today is Election Day. There are more police and armed military personnel with automatic weapons than I have ever seen. There is a military man every few feet in a grid pattern all over the terminal and no one can park near the terminal. We went through two security checks, then had to identify each piece of our luggage piled along the tarmac to the plane before they would load it on the plane and we got on.
Dimitris was feeling better today and apologized for Friday. It was just such a frustrating day all the way around and he was so sick.
The trip to Zurich on Swissair left a lot to be desired. My part was okay, but the oxygen situation wasn’t. They only had a full lower face mask and we couldn’t adjust the flow which was practically nonexistent. The food was good though. We flew extremely high across the Ionian Sea, Italy and whatever other country we might have edged over on our way to Zurich. It was raining in Zurich so we couldn’t see much.
Back to good old SAS to Copenhagen. This is the nicest airline I’ve ever dealt with. Everyone bends over backward to be of assistance. What wonderful staff and policy.
The sun is shining in Copenhagen, even. Gee, everything’s nice here. We weren’t here long enough to see anything though. We came over Frankfurt, Germany from Zurich to Copenhagen. What wasn’t cloud covered looked flat. No wonder everyone from there likes Alaska.
It is 8 hours 45 minutes from Copenhagen to Anchorage. They gave us a full row of 5 seats again just for Doris, me and the oxygen bottle. The hydrator stem broke off in the water bottle on the gauge. I put a piece of plastic tube on instead and it worked.
Another meal, very good, several cartoons, “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” later and we are still 3 ½ hours from Anchorage. Doris is extremely tired which isn’t good for her. A very nice Oriental man joined us in our row so he could see the screen better. He doesn’t speak English and persists in taking pictures with his flash of the overhead projection screen of our progress on the map. He has used several rolls of film and no way to let him know they will all be blank.
Customs was impressed by my lists. They even laughed about my boxes of oregano and coffee. My carry-on bag full of assorted rocks and fragments of artifacts I found on the beach amused them. There had been a robbery in one of the museums in Athens just before we left and I had worried about all those fragments. Some had carvings on them and letters from old ruins. I think my bag weighed about 65 pounds, mostly rocks. All the beaches were rocks. No sand. The rocks all look like they were run through a tumbler and are lovely. My souvenirs for myself were inexpensive.
The connections are good and we finally land in Fairbanks. Joe is so happy to see Doris. He truly did not think he would ever see her alive, again. Neither of them were sure she would even survive the trip over. She has some other health issues and still isn’t ever going to run a marathon, but she is alive and perky, closer to her old self.
Doris not only survived a few more years, she got to see a Governor elected that represented the political party started by her and her husband. Her final cause of death was listed as cancer on her death certificate, her doctor here did not want to ever say she was cured, but her x-rays never showed anything in her lungs again but the small encapsulated dark spot she had for years. Joe told me she actually had a heart attack during an asthma attack.


A Trip to Greece – week 5

Week 5

The strange person was a man. He stripped entirely and dove in the pool. The hotel kicked him out, we missed the whole to-do.
Yesterday was a slow day. Neighbor lady and I walked all over Glyfada. Doris did some shopping in the hotel gift shop.
I got up today about 5 a.m. and helped neighbor lady and her husband pack their bags downstairs, then visited with them until they left, I will miss them. As they were leaving, 75 or so English kids and chaperones came in. Oh joy, just what we needed. School kids on Spring Break.
This afternoon, Doris and I went to Sounion and Posiedon’s Temple. It’s a nice drive along the coast, beautiful scenery, kind of like Eastern Oregon moved to the coast. Dimitris is a good driver, not crazy like most of the others. We should have taken the small oxygen bottle with us, but Doris did well. Pistachios, almonds, figs, olives and grapes grow along here.
My jaw isn’t getting better.
I went to the doctors’ with Doris this morning. We saw the Parthenon from the hills on the way back to the hotel.
I walked to town after breakfast before the day gets too hot. It was certainly hot yesterday afternoon. I found some honey for Doris to take home. The kind the cab driver said was best. I walked a block past the hair salon and around that block waiting for the farther grocery store to open. I was still looking for the brand of honey served at the hotel. Since I couldn’t find it, I bought the other. I’ve checked all the stores in walking distance. Two different vehicles offered me rides, then again, I don’t know that’s what they were offering…..I ignored them and kept walking.
One kept driving beside me so I picked up a nice handy rock. He left. It’s a very pretty piece of marble. It’s laying around everywhere, very lovely stuff.
My jaw still aches. I hope I can last until I get home, to get it taken care of. It aches all along the lower jawbone, under my tongue and even my upper jaw, now. At least it’s not steady. I don’t think I could stand that.
Getting lunch is quite a feat now, with this flock of hungry kids here. Kind of like running the gauntlet with a tray of food without spilling anything.
The patients are thinning down to just a few now. Not all are still getting shots but couldn’t change their flight reservations.
When Joe called last night, he had sad news. Their dog “Lucky” had died in his sleep.
When he called tonight, he said El wants a Greek fisherman’s shirt, net or something. I’ve only seen them in regular T-shirts. I haven’t seen anything like that in any of the stores, either. None of the hats various people wanted, either.
Another early morning. I didn’t get to go this morning. I think I will sleep a week when I get home. The bunch of kids yelled and screamed most of the night. Then a baby started crying. Lovely night.
Doris had a blood test today. The doctor thinks she has had enough, so tomorrow will probably be her last shot.
Two of the other patients haven’t left yet. They were here for lunch today. They’ll leave Friday.
We are supposed to go to Piraeus, tomorrow. That should be nice. But I’m sure getting tired of people, people and more people. Feels like the sheer volume of people is crushing me.
I just changed Doris’s bottle to the small extra bottle. She had wanted to save it to take with us on trips. It would have been handy for that.
After changing the bottle, I went back downstairs and visited with the other two patients, then Doris came down for a while, too. After Doris went back upstairs, the three of us walked downtown and got a paper.
I went back downstairs after our dinner and got the new oxygen bottle that was delivered a bit ago and hooked it up. Now we still have part of the little bottle to travel on. There is supposed to be Greek dancers downstairs at 9 p.m. I Might go take pictures.
I did. It was only 20 minutes so the video taped almost the whole thing. It was neat and I enjoyed it.
About quarter after 4 this morning it sounded like someone decided to rearrange the furniture on this floor. Doors slamming, scootings and crashes. Very hard to sleep through.
Doris doesn’t go until 8:30 or 9 a.m. today so we slept in until 7. Wow.
We went to Piraeus. It’s the largest seaport in the Mediterranean. Ships from all over the world, including Russia. There were yachts and sailboats everywhere, a lovely harbor. We even saw where Dimitris’ mother lives.
She has a lovely view from there. There is only a street between her and the seawall of the yacht harbor, plus there is a grocery store on the ground floor under her. All in all, a very nice trip.
When we returned to the hotel yesterday afternoon, there was a message to call Mrs. Giannopoulos at Swissair before 4 p.m. It was only 3:15 p.m. so I called and was put on hold for 20 minutes. I hung up and went upstairs and immediately called again. I was told she had gone home for the day. I left a message to call us. She did, this morning. We had to have THEIR Dr. Tryfonopoulos at Skoufa #66 in downtown Athens approve oxygen for Doris on our flight leaving here to go home.
That doctor was only in from 10 a.m. until noon. It was after 10 when we left the hotel. We had to go to the airport to get the health certificate from Swissair, to Dr. Alivizatos to fill it out as attending physician first. After we left his office, we found the paper wasn’t all filled in so my artistic abilities were good for something. Luckily, my pen was the same color. We got to the other doctor’s office at 5 minutes to noon. He was very pleasant and said he was coming to Alaska next summer.
Dimitris is sort of pissed off as though it is all our fault. He and Doris yelled at each other from the hotel to the airport, then not so loudly on the way to Dr. Alivizatos. Then very quiet back to the hotel. Now we don’t get to go to Corinth,
Tomorrow all villagers are going to their villages to vote in the countrywide elections on Sunday. I think it may be dangerous to be out and about then. There have been bombings almost every day since we got here, Politics. They take them very seriously. Opposing sides stand on opposite street corners screaming back and forth at each other. So far, they have only blown up each other’s headquarters late at night after everyone has gone home and empty cars. Not people or planes. That makes me feel a little better. We are very close to Turkey, Israel, Iraq, Iran, etc. Greece and Turkey don’t get along at all. Of course Turkey has invaded in the past, so…….
There are only four of the bunch of cancer patients and companions left here now in the hotel. The last four of us leave on Sunday. Now the place is filling with families and school kids on Spring Break, mostly from England. It’s certainly not as nice and quiet as it was before April 1st which was the start of tourist season.
Since I have been shopping for one meal a day since we got here, they now consider me a local and after giving me a heart attack when they ring me up, they laugh and hit another key and my total is half. Even the T-shirt shop and other gift shops do the same.
The Gypsy kids are practicing all this last week, also. Never have anything in your pockets and just stand still and let the little whirl wind of small children swirl around you, fingers like butterfly wings going over every pocket. I stand still with my hands over my head and laugh. They are laughing too. I kept some coins in one hand and as they start to leave for their next target, I drop the coins and walk on. They laugh, scramble for coins and never bother me again.
The drivers are insane, for the most part. If it is a two lane highway, they drive it as three. Stop signs are suggestions. If two drivers are arguing and pull up on either side of your car, you roll down windows so they can continue arguing across and through your car. Once in a while, if one makes a good point, you join in.
Our driver asks how I like Greece and I tell him it is nice, the scenery is lovely, the ancient artifacts intriguing and too many people, they make me feel claustrophobic. He thinks I use the wrong word, how can I feel that way, out in the open surrounded by friendly people that jostle, shove, smile, ask how you are and are so helpful. That is the point. There are so many people. There are over three million people in this small bowl of land below the surrounding hills that encircle Athens, Glyfada, Piraeus and a couple of other small (?) communities that all run together. The area is just about the same size as the area Fairbanks fills with the immediate outlying areas. I feel like there are too many people to breathe and that I am being crushed by their sheer numbers. The entire State of Alaska has less than one million people and I feel the same in Anchorage. Too many people.
Swissair called to let us know we are confirmed. I told them they cost us a trip to Corinth and caused unnecessary stress on Doris. He apologized. I told him “Not good enough. Why weren’t we told on April 3rd when we talked to you about confirmation of our reservation?” No comment.

A Trip to Greece 1990 – week 4

The fourth week:

I didn’t get to go today so took the two oxygen bottles that Dimitris brought and did some postcards. I had already done our laundry before we went downstairs.
Yesterday was Greek Independence Day. Since it was Sunday, we didn’t have to get up early. Daylight Saving Time started also. That’s about everything that happened.
Today I got to ride along to the doctor’s. We’re going down to the Acropolis later today. It looked pretty smoggy in that direction as we went along the hills, on our way in. Still quite dark but getting light. Full daylight on the trip back.
After lunch, Dimitris took Doris and I on a tour of the sea front on the way to downtown Athens and the Acropolis. We saw Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of Zeus. Syntanga Square, the Palace and Guards, the Old University, the original New Olympic Stadium, the Parthenon on the Acropolis and Lycabettus Hill. Several other neat things but the people and vehicles were so thick, it’s no wonder the drivers don’t want to go downtown. I hope I got some good pictures with the camcorder and the still camera.
I went looking for the bookstore but it was closed. I want to get a couple of Greek cookbooks by Vefa Alexiadou (in English).
Now we’re sitting on the beds, watching TV, waiting for Joe to call and getting worried because it is so late. Okay, he just called.
Another early morning. Both of us would have enjoyed sleeping a few more hours. That bed felt mighty comfy this morning.
I can’t believe the stupidity or death wish of some of these patients. They know they shouldn’t drink, smoke or exert themselves and must follow the diet. Yet they ignore all that just as soon as they start feeling better. One fellow with lung cancer and tubes draining them still smokes. Real Intelligent.
After breakfast, Dimitris took a wheelchair outside for us and I took Doris for a spin on the beach. She even got up and walked to the sea to dip her hand in the water.
The large estate compound between the hotel and the sea has a crew doing repairs to the driveway. The family is not in residence so the gates are left open and the crew allowed us to walk through and look over the grounds that we can see from our hotel room which looks directly down into the compound. They are very wealthy so worry about the children and other family members being abducted, hence the ugly fence and wire with glass over the top. The crew are dragging out a simple repair of some potholes and has about 20 people working to repair them. One determined person could have done the work that has been done in 2 weeks in one day.
I’m getting brave or stupid, I’ve got an appointment at the beauty shop for a perm. So here I sit, a bit more trimmed than I’d planned, but everyone is very friendly and a different person handles each stage of hair care. Then calls everyone over to touch the baby hair. None have touched adult hair so fine textured. It won’t be long until I see what the results are. It is supposed to be a loose wave perm.
Well, I got a heck of a shock this morning. I looked in the mirror. It’ll take some getting used to. Everyone says it looks good, but…….
I went to the doctor with Doris this morning. Before she went in for her turn the doctor had a seizure and passed out. He was attacked a while back and left for dead in his home. He has seizures ever since. Poor man. After a while, he was able to continue and went ahead and gave injections.
Neighbor lady and I walked downtown. I bought some odds and ends, then helped her pack some of her bags to go home.
Doris gets another blood test today. I hope it continues to go down. We won’t know until tomorrow.
After breakfast, the neighbor lady and I walked to town. Since we were a bit early, we went to the beach closest to our hotel. Some old guy was swimming, then he walked up to the outdoor shower head and back to the surf. The next thing we knew, he was naked, rinsing out his suit in the surf and putting it back on. This is the family beach. The next beach is a topless beach and the one beyond is a nude beach. The cars pull onto the edge of the sand here, everyone jumps out, changes into their swimsuits right there and then go swim. I don’t want to know what goes on at the other two beaches. I have seen more naked people at the family beach, but they are just changing clothes the locals say, no problem.
We fixed a teeny birthday surprise for the neighbor lady’s husband. He is a fine man with a terribly painful cancer of the bones. We bought a couple slices of cream cake and a candle. I made a birthday card – Happy Birthday from Grease Greece with a pat of butter in a zipper bag, (grease) and a deck of cards for him.
Doris woke up at 4 a.m. with a bad headache and not feeling good. I doubt if we will go to Sounion and Posiedon’s Temple today. I sure hope her blood count is down.
It is 2.6 today. They said she only needs one more shot but since we’ll be here a week longer, she can take more.
Okay, real important stuff, TV trivia. April 13th is Blame Someone Else Day. Finally a holiday I can identify with.
I don’t know why Dimitris didn’t come by about our trip. It’s probably just as well since Doris didn’t feel good this morning. I was really looking forward to getting out, I even stayed in the hotel instead of walking with the neighbor lady as I didn’t know when he would want to go.
The chiropractor adjusted Doris’s neck and upper back. She feels much better even breathes easier now.
The hotel handyman is a Greek replica of Bill Murray in “Caddyshack”. Looks similar and acts like the type that would blow up a golf course to kill a gopher.
Neighbor lady and I walked some, this evening. We went past a place with fish displayed in the parking lot to select and take inside to have cooked for your dinner.
There is a strange person staying here, today. It dresses sort of punk female, but even after it partially stripped and went swimming in the hotel pool, the bar man was undecided. He was clearing tables when we came back from our walk. The person had exotic gold glitter eye design that swooped up beyond each eye, rather pretty and wearing odd silk clothing.
My toothache is accelerating. Doris gave me some amoxicillin to take. It’s not a cavity, I don’t have any.

A Trip to Greece 1990 – week 3

The third week:

I can’t believe it’s me, getting up at 5:30 a.m., staying up, eating breakfast, even, a few hours later. I’m going to be so healthy. Neighbor lady and I walked to the store TWICE today. Once at noon, big mistake, everyone here must shop at noon on Saturday. The second trip was to show a newcomer where everything is. I was kind of odoriferous by the end of the second trip so gave the odd tub a try. I’ve just been doing sponge bathes as the hot water wasn’t too regular. The tub is about 2 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet deep. There is a molded seat to sit on one end and a hand held shower head. I used some foaming bath oil and it foamed up through the drain in the middle of the bathroom floor. Our bathroom is quite breezy and cool so one doesn’t linger. I did my laundry (jeans, T-shirts, etc.) at the same time. I’ve been hand laundering the underclothes and socks as we use them.
Doris hasn’t used much oxygen during the last 24 hours and when she has, its set at about ¼ liter per minute. Some difference from the 2 liter per minute she was using.
I got a daily paper again today. The Athens News, a small English language paper. Doris enjoys it.
I like the new fruit juice I found at the store and so does Doris. Banana, kiwi and coconut and a very refreshing drink, not very sweet.
One thing is very different, the doctor, the hotel, everyone, doesn’t want paid until we are ready to leave. Sure different than the US. Greece has a very low crime rate, too. Most everyone is honest and everyone is friendly. They push, shove, yell and smile but are more than willing to help a dumb tourist.
Doris is feeling well enough to write letters today. I did a bunch more postcards and finally have at least one done to each person on my list.
The neighbor lady, a new lady and I walked to the beach, then to the shopping area. I took the video camera. I brought back lots of rocks, too. Doris gets her daily pastry, each trip. Right now it is important that she not lose any more weight and maybe start to gain some. Her body needs to be able to help fight back.
TV is interesting. Movies are American made, dubbed into Spanish, with German subtitles and once in a while Greek under the German but very seldom. Kids watching these will certainly be multilingual. It sounds odd to see a lovely woman speaking in a deep masculine voice that sounds like they are holding up a bank or threatening someone during a tender love scene in the movie. Oh, yeah, the people dubbing in sound don’t necessarily match the gender of the person they are voice over-ing.
Doris is still using the bottle of oxygen that Dimitris hooked up on Thursday. We have two more full bottles on hand, so are very well supplied now.
I washed some laundry this morning. I don’t do much at a time as there is no place to dry it. The bathroom is much warmer now that I stuffed 2 plastic bags and a towel in the window.
Fahrenheit 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100
Celsius -18 -12 -7 -1 4 10 16 21 27 32 38
Doris went down the steps to the dining room to eat breakfast this morning. Nine very steep steps. Then she came back up them by herself. This afternoon she sat on the balcony for quite a while, also.
We watched “Der Preis Ist HeiB” (The Price Is Right – German version) I’m starting to understand a little bit of it.
We’ve bought so much Greek Oregano that I expect customs to think it is marijuana and bust us.
We heard a lot of hammering during the night and found it was coming from the room of the lady I walk to the store with. The bed fell apart during the night and the desk clerk was repairing it. We had to tease her and her husband about “no excitement”. The diet list specifies no sex during treatment.
I’m afraid Doris has caught a cold from some of the others. They sit around together, coughing, hacking and sneezing. I sure hope not but my head is getting stuffed up like it was before the trip here. Of course I left my medicine at home.
Doris went to the dining room for breakfast again this morning. I really think she is improving. She had a bit of a coughing spell this evening that brought up a good portion of her dinner though. I was getting pretty worried.
The lady I walk with and one of the boys taking treatments went to the store with me. He shouldn’t have, but Dimitris gave us a ride down town. Then he picked us up halfway back which was none too soon for the boy. Poor kid was worn out. Dimitris told him he should be resting, not walking.
The couple of the broken bed went on a tour to Posiedon’s Temple. They did not enjoy it.
Doris seems pretty good this morning. We thought I could go also, but another driver forgot a patient so she went instead. Maybe tomorrow.
So far the only coffee pots I have found that don’t require electricity (it’s 240 volt here) is a small very expensive expresso maker from Italy. Nothing from Greece for a gift that was asked for.
After breakfast in the dining room, we sat in the lounge. Then Doris had a coughing choking spell so we went upstairs. She didn’t feel too great the rest of the day. I didn’t go walking.
Yesterday was quite warm, 76 to 78 degrees F., looks like more of the same today.
Doris didn’t feel good this morning, even her tongue hurts. She has her third blood test this morning, will get the results tomorrow. I took the big oxygen bottle downstairs, it ran dry yesterday.
I washed and towel dried Doris’s hair. She says it feels a lot better, even used the curling iron, too. She is feeling better, is worried about how she looks now and didn’t when we first got here.
I got to go with Doris this morning. The doctor works out of his very large home compound on the other side of Athens so the trip is always interesting with a lot of old temples and part of a coliseum once in a while. I took some video and still shots of Doctor Alivizatos, his father (also a doctor) and Katrina, his nurse. Another girl works there also, who is from Saudi Arabia. Also took some video of Doris and Dimitris. Her blood count is 3.4 today. Not quite halfway through her treatment.
Neighbor lady and I went shopping. I got a nice cardigan sweater for Doris, ½ price. I got some books and other odds and ends. It was feeling pretty darned hot by the time we got back to the hotel with our loads. My back is hurting, too.

A Trip to Greece, 1990 week two

The second week…

It is 0 degrees F in Fairbanks when we leave and 15 degrees F in Anchorage when we land there. We traveled on a 737 Alaska Airlines plane, the first to board and the last off. They use a tiny portable seat on a cart. It looks a lot like a hand truck, to carry Doris up and down the loading ramps. There is oxygen on each flight and a wheelchair and oxygen waiting at each stop.
In Anchorage, we had to go from the regular terminal to the International terminal by shuttle bus. The wheelchair ramp on the bus was broken so the driver carried Doris on and off the bus. Customs took us through special.
We boarded a DC-10 in Anchorage, leaving around 11 a.m. for Copenhagen via the polar route. Scandinavian Air gave us an entire row of seats so the big oxygen bottle wouldn’t crowd us. The flight was smooth and uneventful with the crew doing everything possible to see to Doris’s comfort. We had an evening meal but Doris had no appetite. However she did like the lovely hot rolls with butter so the stewardess brought an entire basket full for her to snack on. She even enjoyed the movie, “When Harry Met Sally.” We tried to rest, but it was fairly impossible for both of us. I think we both dozed a couple of times but certainly not enough. Then we had a nice breakfast. We landed in Copenhagen, Denmark at 7:36 p.m. Fairbanks time – still March 8th. But it was actually 5:36 a.m. March 9th having crossed the International Date Line.
We were taken to a courtesy room SAS has for invalids or persons needing special care by Mercedes ambulance from the plane, how neat is that? There was a hospital bed for Doris and I made a bed for myself in the adjoining room. We each got a couple hours of rest there.
I changed some money into Danish and bought some items from a kiosk in the terminal, comb, brush, magazines, etc. I tried to find some food but nothing was open yet that sold food. SAS serves good meals but our flight had originated in Tokyo and they really like fish. I thought it was lovely, thin sliced and looked like red pimento peppers on the salad, raw salmon, oh ugh. The meal from Copenhagen to Athens had raw herring salad. Double ugh.
We left Copenhagen late, around 1 p.m. and traveled down the border of East Germany and Poland. Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Romania and Bulgaria which all looked quite flat from our perspective. We saw a bit of the Black Sea and the Danube River through breaks in the clouds then across the Aegean Sea to Greece. There were a couple of rugged mountains and they had some snow on them.
We arrived in Athens, after circling over the very blue Mediterranean and lots of rugged islands a while. We arrived at 4:20 p.m. March 9th and it would have been 5:20 a.m. in Fairbanks, also March 9th.
We were pretty much waved through customs, not at all formal. We were met by our cab driver, Dimitris Tsasaronis. He will haul us wherever we need to go while we are here for $100.00 a week. He drives like he owns the road and so do all the rest. Quite an experience.
Our hotel is near the sea. Two meals per day are included for $55 a day. We are staying in Glyfada, instead of Athens. Doris and I were both too tired and sort of sick to our stomachs from tiredness to go down and eat so we went to bed about 7 p.m. and slept (mostly) until almost 6 a.m. We were worn out.
We left the hotel at 7 a.m. for Doris’s first doctor appointment. The lab is closed on weekends so no blood tests today. The first of her injections was administered. The reaction is immediate, flushed face and feeling of heat and tingling. A taste in the mouth that lingers most of the day and feeling a need for rest.
We had breakfast served to us in the lounge on returning to the hotel, because of steep steps down to the dining room. Then up to our room so Doris could rest.
The driver came back at 11 a.m. to take me shopping for groceries. I also got a mini-hot plate, small kettle, 2 cups and saucers and a bowl. I can’t get stamps until Monday. A friend called just after I got back to the room.
I went down to lunch about 2 p.m. and sat with some of the other guests. Most of the people on the flight from Denmark were coming to the same clinic. Also most of the people staying at this hotel are going there, also. There are some very dramatic stories happening here.
One fellow at the table was terminal with a huge tumor over most of his face when he got here. Now the tumor is reduced to a small spot and he looks and feels very good. Another has been here only since Tuesday and the lumps under his arm are going down. I sure hope it works for Doris and as fast.
I brought a tray up for Doris and she made a valiant effort. Most of the large bowl of soup, some bread, a bit of the spaghetti which was good but very dry and she can’t drink water with her meals, must wait 2 hours after eating, and part of the pears.
We left for the doctors’ at 7 a.m. Doris didn’t realize the old man would draw her blood and give the shot if she sat near him. He really hurt her, took three tries to get it. One on her left arm and two on her right. I had blood drawn, might as well test while I am here. Doris is given a list of foods to avoid and other things to do that help the treatments work better.
Unleaded gas costs approximately $2.50 a gallon, diesel a third of that. Most vehicles are diesel. Gas in Fairbanks much cheaper.
The sun came out yesterday so I walked to the beach and took some pictures of the hotel and the trees. We are about a block from the beach.
The taxis and buses go on strike tomorrow. Our driver is going to attempt an early run with just patients. He’s afraid the other drivers will demolish his taxi if they catch him.
We got up early and were waiting for Dimitris. He brought another bottle of oxygen. That makes the third large bottle since we got here.
I walked to the shopping area with one of the other gals staying here at the hotel, yesterday. I bought some gifts to take home and found a nice pale gold sweatshirt, light weight, for Doris. I also bought some pastries. That is one way to load up calories for Doris. Unfortunately, for me, also, but I do have to sample and make sure they are good, don’t I?
Doris’s blood sample was 6.3 on the doctor’s scale. Well within the curable range of 2.5 to 8.5. Mine was as low as possible for human blood to test. They said I am disgustingly healthy as far as cancer goes. That is good to hear, for me. But it is reassuring for Doris, also. The doctor said she will be able to breathe soon. Then the dependency on oxygen will not tether her to the big tanks.
While she was at the doctors’ I walked to the beach with her video camera and panned around the harbor, Aegean Sea and the city, then zoomed our hotel.
This afternoon has been a rough time for Doris. The injections seem to make her very ill. She is nauseous, chilled and very worn out. Sure hope she feels better soon.
Another early morning for Doris to go to the clinic. Dimitris wrote down the doctor’s diagnosis for her which is Lungs, Lymphatic System, digestive system, and reproductive system. The US doctors only said lungs. More about this later.
After breakfast, the lady in the room beside ours and I walked to the shopping area. I bought more T-shirts, postcards, pastries and water. I also found a pair of Greek dolls for my Mom. We walked quite a ways and my back and feet were tired by the time we got back, then wanted to cramp. Dimitris came by with another bottle of Oxygen and took the one that was almost empty. He came back in a half hour and got Doris and I to go shopping for a mini-recorder for Doris. She walked to a couple of malls and did great. She even crossed kamikaze street to get to the taxi. I think she is improving already. She certainly is, from yesterday.
We changed rooms yesterday. This one is much nicer. It opens directly toward the Aegean Sea. (That’s what it is and so much easier to spell than Mediterranean) We can even use the closets and the beds aren’t as crowded. Of course there are only two beds instead of three, like the other room had. A friend called from Fairbanks.
For $100 Travelers Check, I receive 15,600 Drachmas. So now I can figure whether some of my great buys really are or not.
Doris recorded the nurse’s report this morning and was told that she doesn’t necessarily have cancer in all those areas reported the other day but has trouble in all those systems and that the serum should help all of it. She will find out more, later. They took another blood sample today, only 4 days after the first one.
It’s certainly windy today. If we were home, I would say it would rain within 24 hours.
TV just said that Susan Butcher won the Iditarod race yesterday, breaking the record, again. They had a few minor mistakes such as the finish line in “McGrath”. Oh well, at least they had it on at all. They even mentioned “her home town. Manley.”
I think Doris had a much better night. Her breathing sounded easier.
There are several new faces this morning. Seems everyone has heard the doctor is leaving and everyone wants to get in one more round of injections. One fellow is a Chiropractor. His wife is exceedingly ill. She can’t hold food down and hasn’t eaten in three weeks.
Doris’s blood test was 5.7, that’s 6 points lower than 4 days before. Everyone is amazed at how much it dropped in such a short time. The doctor seems to think the cancer isn’t so much in her lungs as it is causing pressure that inhibits her breathing and that it will get better. This sure raised our spirits and Joe’s, when he called. It’s about time they had some good news.

To be continued….

A Trip to Greece, 1990

March 1, 1990 The first week
Joe and Doris call and ask about coming to visit. They have something they want to ask me. I am used to them having me babysit their house and dogs whenever they want to be away from the house for a while. I tell them they are welcome any time.
When they arrive, Doris is not looking as good as usual and moving very slowly. The ground still is covered in snow and Joe helps her walk to the house from their Mercedes. It’s not often I have such a nice vehicle in my yard.
They start by asking if I would accompany Doris to Greece for some medical treatment. She has just returned from Mayo Clinic and the prognosis is not good. She has been told she will not live to see Spring.
I am dumbfounded. I also don’t have a passport. Joe assures me that will not be a problem and I find that sure enough, it isn’t. I have my passport before we leave.
March 8th
When we meet at the airport, I am saddened to see that Doris looks far worse than she did just 7 days before. She has lost more weight and is very weak. She has always been a slender elegant woman but now she is still elegant but oh so tiny and is confined to a wheelchair with an oxygen tank.
To be continued.