I have finally come to the point where I can talk about my Greek “incident” without totally breaking down in tears. Yes, it took MONTHS to overcome the shock and aggravation of the situation, but now I feel uninhibited, free to talk without the Greek Mafia hunting me down to silence my complaints.
Okay, so maybe it’s not that dramatic. I’ve actually shared my lovely experience with several people now and all I can say is this: it makes for a really great story. It’s just a bummer that I will have a permanent reminder of this “adventure” on my knee for the rest of my life. But oh well. It could’ve been worse. A LOT worse. As in, my ability to post a story of this nature would have been prevented due to the untimely demise of my person. And I like my person. A whole heckuva lot. So whew! Dodged a mortal bullet there.
Santorini was the final stop on my Italian/Greek tour I did this past June. It’s a beautiful little island that is the quintessential Greek experience: gyros for only 2 Euro, pebbled beaches, perfect weather, and a landscape dotted with brilliant white buildings topped with Mediterranean Blue rooftops. It was lovely.
Since it was such a small island, we decided within hours of landing on Santorini that it would be a great idea to rent scooters for up close exploration and discovery. When I say “we”, I mean me, my little ex-sis-in-law Emmy and her two friends, Nicole and Brooke, that joined us from London. We hopped on our scooters, two to each machine, and took off around Kamari, the beach side area where we were located. Before long, we found a little winding road that said, “Ancient Thira”. As I was leading our group, I thought, ‘hmmm, that would be cool to go up to the top of this mountain and take a look’.
The site of Ancient Thira was at the crest of one of the small peaks on Santorini. And the road leading up to the ancient ruins was a precarious grouping of switchbacks…that you really couldn’t full appreciate until you were on the road. About halfway up the mountain, I had a feeling, you know, one of those ‘uh oh’ feelings that gives you a sense of foreboding? The steep corners of the switchbacks along with the added person on the back of my scooter were making me a little nervous. Not to mention the road wasn’t really a “road”; it was cobblestones.
A thought popped in my head when I got that feeling. It went something like this: ‘hmmm, maybe taking scooters up this steep mountainside might not be the best idea’. Famous last thoughts. The next switchback turn was steeper than the last and you had to give it gas as you turned the corner just to get it up over the steep switch before it flattened a little bit again. I came around the corner a little tight, gunned the gas, and promptly hit one of the protuding cobblestones. It threw off my balance and alignment so that within a matter of a split second, instead of heading UP the mountain, I was heading off the SIDE of the mountain. At full gassed up speed.
You know how people say that time seems to stand still when something bad is about to happen? I’ve been in car accidents and other situations and all I can say is that it’s amazing how something that occurs in 2.3 seconds can seem like an eternity as your brain processes the scene . It’s like still frames being unfolded by your brain as you come face to face with what will inevitably be shock to your system: Flip! Flip! Flip! Flip! I remember looking at the edge of the mountain, paralyzed with fear because I couldn’t find the brake to stop, and simultaneously thinking, “Oh my gosh, I can NOT kill this girl on the back of my bike! And please bike – STOP!!!!” And then we hit. A small curb. That saved us from going over the side of the mountain. Well, I should say that saved ME because Nicole, my quick-witted passenger, jumped off the back before serious impact.
BOOM! Head over heels I went flipping over the scooter. I felt a pain in my right knee and in my left leg as I landed on the side of the road and got pinned by the scooter as it continued to flip forward on top of me. As I lay there on my back, the scooter crushing my left leg and my right knee pulled towards me, I looked at the sky and thought, “What in the heck was that??? Holy smokes…did I break anything?”
Emmy and Brooke came rushing over towards the two of us in full panic, asking if we were all right. It was at that moment I heard a gasp and “Oh my gosh – look at her KNEE!!” Crap. I most certainly did NOT want to look at my knee because I hate blood. As in it makes me weak to see my own life juice leaving my body. I propped myself up on my elbows and looked anyway.
My right knee was split from my kneecap to the inside of my leg, a deep gash that also gave me a nice sweet glimpse into the corner of my actual kneecap. YUCK. Immediately, I started to not feel so good. When you have this chronic aversion to blood (which I have detailed on my blog a couple of times), your head and stomach start to do weird things immediately. And it’s an extremely uncomfortable feeling.
I knew within seconds of looking at my knee it was going to be needing some serious stitches to shut that torn up gap closed. Panic started to set in a little bit because my second biggest phobia is needles. Stitching requires needles. Although I think I would have tried some serious super glue as a nice non-needle-like alternative to bringing two pieces of my skin back together again.
Emmy and Brooke helped me over to the far side of the road where two people happened to just be chilling out by the bend in the switchback. Funny thing these Greeks: they witnessed this crazy accident and just sat there. It wasn’t until Emmy began gesticulating wildly and Brooke was asking quite pointedly for a First Aid kit that they decided to come alive and walk over to help me. Thankfully, they did have a First Aid kit and they began to wrap my knee because the blood trickling down my knee and covering my right foot was making me even more sick.
“I think I’m going to be sick,” I told no one in particular and I started to shake a tiny bit as the shock from the injury really started to set in. My left leg was battered from my ankle all the way into my inner thigh and my right knee was entirely immobilized as I didn’t even want to try and bend it and create a bigger gash. The conversation that swirled about me focused on how to get me down to a hospital, did the island even have a hospital, do we call an ambulance, what happens next. All I knew is that I wasn’t going back down the mountain on the scooter (which, by the way, had NO injuries to it whatsoever).
Suddenly, a little car came around the upper bend and stopped when it saw the ruckus by the side of the road. Out popped two elderly French couples who had smartly rented a SMART car and taken it up the mountain to view the ruins of Ancient Thira. I remember the taller of the two gentleman coming towards me and starting to ask me questions in French. I couldn’t respond too well at the moment because I was afraid if I opened my mouth, something entirely too nasty for words would come out. I knew I was in the pre-stages of something happening to me if I moved to much.
Well, apparently the nice old Frenchmen offered to take me down the mountain in their car. Somebody asked me if I was okay to stand and walk towards their car. I don’t have any recollection of this at all. In fact, the last thing I remembered was sitting by the side of the road and just feeling absolutely and fantastically icky. But apparently I told someone I was okay to go, that I could make it to the car. Sigh…famous last words.
It’s a strange thing to faint. If you have never had the experience, let me tell you how it works (well, at least how it works for me). Before you lose consciousness, you feel like every molecule in your body is bursting inside you with rapid-fire motion, and it makes you unsettled and very uncomfortable. You can’t think clearly and your arms and legs start to get very weak. It feels like the very essence of life that fills every part of your body is being sucked back into the middle of your body, like some reverse vacuum effect. And when it all gathers in the middle, it’s lights out. And the molecules dancing around inside you? They feel like tiny little pricks against the inside of your skin. Ever tried to warm your cold hands by placing them under hot running water? That awful prickly sensation? That’s kind of what it feels like before you are out cold
Now, on the reverse side, waking up from a dead faint is a strangely relaxing thing. It’s like you were awake one minute and then you got sucked into a dead fog where absolutely nothing is there. It’s coming out of blackness, out of a pool of nothingness because you have no memory of how you came to be “asleep” and how long you were out. Everything slowly comes back into focus: your hearing, your vision, your memory, your body and how it’s positioned.
As I came to after fainting dead away as they tried to walk me to the car, I opened my eyes and to my right I saw Emmy and Brooke, their eyes popped open wide and seemingly trying to yell something to me. As I rolled my head to the left, I saw the kind Frenchman who was stroking the side of my head. My hearing was slowly coming back and as it did, I realized that Emmy and Brooke were yelling in my face for me to “wake up!”. They were saying a bunch of other things too, but the funny thing is that I couldn’t understand a single word of what they were saying. As I moved my head back to the Frenchman, his soothing voice chattered on in French – and I understood EVERY SINGLE WORD THAT HE SAID. And without even pausing to think, I just started to respond to him in French. Emmy and Brooke looked at each and I could hear them asking, “Does she know French???” They obviously thought I had hit my head pretty darn hard.
Later, as Emmy was recounting her experience with my fainting spell, she said she honestly thought I had died for a moment, that perhaps I had hit my head in the crash and now I was a goner. She attributed this to the fact that my face went a ghostly shade of white, my lips became bright purple, and my eyes rolled back in my head so that when she tried to pry them open, all she saw where the whites of my eyes. Poor Emmy, I scared her half to death!
Back to me speaking French. Oh, and did I mention that I could only understand things said to me in French? As Emmy and Brooke tried to talk, it all sounded like gibberish and I couldn’t make sense of it. Everything the old Frenchman spoke was as clear as running water. I slowly sat up and started talking to the man in French, explaining the situation and that I needed to get to a hospital and could he possibly take me? “Portez-moi a l’hopital dans votre voiture?” I asked.
Within a matter of minutes, I was assisted over to the car and very gently maneuvered myself into the back seat. I tell you what, when you are a tall girl of 5’10” and you need to have space to stretch your leg out in a car and you are put inside a tiny SMART car, well, let’s just say that you are hating life.
But little did I know just how much fun was awaiting me as we made our way to the hospital…but I will have to make that Part Duh, as in “Duh, don’t use the Greek socialized medicine for all the money in the world!”