Monday, 4 January 2016

Ευτυχισμένο το νέο έτος ...

Happy New Year ...

How are you all, do you still visit the blog, some clearly do. Its been a year since I made the decision to close down, and return to the UK. It was a tough decision, but my wife's health had to come first. It was the right decision ...

Yes the rug was pulled from beneath us, SWMBO worried that the faltering Greek health system, and its chronic lack of doctors and equipment were failing her. I returned 'to the rock' and had a few days to gather our lives into a suitcase, argue with doctors and return swiftly to the UK.

A lot has happened in that year, we have found out who our friends are. We have met many great people, and a few who, no longer deserve any mention at all. The Christmas card list became shorter, but in many ways richer by the experience.

We lived out of a suitcase for a few months before, we had to find new digs. We met people who had two faces, and some who were fraudulent. We met people happy to rent us, a shed in the garden, with Wifi that was a cable looped up the garden. 

We met more corrupt landlords, than you can shake your fist at, and a few that we did. They even knew they were dealing with someone, very sick with cancer, on chemotherapy, and with a young child. 

The NHS has many critics, It also has so many good people, It has a excellent doctors and nurses working within its system, Notably in our case, the excellent Greek doctors, who we have found along the way ... 

So what is so different? Well chemotherapy in Greece, you sit on a hard backed chair whilst the drugs are infused, sometimes over many hours - If they have them. CT and MRI scanners of ancient age, and serviceability. The UK version is 5* in comparison, and although subject to system failures. It has finance, funds for repairs, and access to drugs, and technology on demand. 

We met some great people in the Greek health system, I genuinely believe they care, because they are still there practicing their profession, against all the odds. We are indebted to two great friends, who banged on doors, and twisted arms on our behalf, in Greece - for records, and proof. Had it not been for them, then the hideous Hellenic bureaucracy, and miles distant would have beat us.

Yes its been a very tough year, Moving house, rooms, countries, doctors, surgeons, oncologists, dentists, GP's, eye tests, even access to the humble flu jab. At times, mentally as well as physically exhausted, by the experience. It has been quite a challenge, supporting SWMBO & Junior through it all ... 

What do I miss, friends obviously, and my Greek neighbours, who became such an important part of my life. The diet in Greece is so much healthier, and I struggle here despite often best intentions. I have to try to feed SWMBO, as best as we can through the chemotherapy regime. She has admitted she misses the meze, and fresh food, from just a few miles distant.

Junior misses friends, the sunshine and a summer that is a real summer. However it also means long days at school, compared to reduced hours if a teacher is available, 'back on the rock' ...

There are some benefits to going to the supermarket in winter, and finding empty shelves, then only buying what you need. Rather than seven days a week, mass produced everything on demand of the UK.

We set out to have a good family Christmas, between chemo treatments, and that is what we did. Junior had a great time and we did spoil her rotten - Why not? Its the first Christmas where Santa was all important. 

I even made out that he could not get down our closed chimney, unlike back on the rock. 

Yes at 5am on Christmas morning, had our neighbour, looked out. He would have seen me carving sleigh runner grooves, and reindeer hoof prints in the garden grass. Snowflake ice cubes scattered across the grass. Luckily Santa had kindly left the presents in the shed ...

Christmas lunch spent with friends, a decent glass or two of claret, Strangely here, its again been followed, by my almost annual 'pre new year' chest cold, that again just would not shift.

Morale was lifted by a visit from Skiathos friends. The occasional Skype call from friends 'back on the rock' and watching junior once having fun again with distant friends. 
Friends we know have left the island for pastures new, Some are stuck there, and would love to leave. Some others are doing battle, with the bureaucracy, poor health, and the post summer blues. 

New faces arrive as the annual migration, of new ex-pats to replace old, takes place. Some if not all are chasing their own version of the dream. One that probably starts, and will end, over a Mythos. Good luck to all of them ...

So here we are at the start of the year. SWMBO just about to start the 17th course of chemotherapy. Very shortly it will also be, the start of her 4th year fighting cancer, albeit at times unknowingly.

We have been though the system, and been, lucky enough to see the best doctors in the country - the top of the tree. Now we find the finance rug has been pulled, on the drug she needs. So we are back to square one, with the UK post code lottery of healthcare funding. One that many of you know so well.

Looks like this will be the last course with the superdrug. They now have to find something else, or one that will probably incapacitate SWMBO for around ten days, out of every fourteen again ...

In the time I have been writing this update, whilst listening to the South African fight back, in the test match from Cape Town. Its been sunny, cloudy, and rained heavily. I am home alone, (SWMBO at the hospital) so have the heating off, and wearing shorts - yes old habits die hard. It feels just as cold as the Skiathos house, where right now its approaching 'Wood burner - o'clock' 

No olive wood scented and ant nest filled logs here, and as many of you know - Gas central heating, is expensive to run. However we do have nightly visits from an inquisitive fox, and a squirrel looking in the window, from on top of the shed from time to time ...

I am not one for new year resolutions, after all the future is uncertain. However I need to get the brain back in gear, and do what I like to do - to write. If you remain interested in what happens next, then perhaps you would like to continue to watch this space...

The journey continues, thank you once again, for reading ...



44 comments:

  1. Just found your blog for the first time. I'm sending love and prayers. X

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    1. Thank you for visiting ...

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    2. I follow you daily on twitter and also share you love of the rock. Chin up and carry on. Take care

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  2. Hi Ian.
    I can only imagine what a hard struggle it has been for you all.
    You have shown amazing strength,in caring for, and guiding your Lovely family through this difficult time.
    Good luck and Best wishes to the three of you , May the strength and love you have for each other see you through,the next chapter. X

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    1. Certainly a challenge, each day is a new page on the book ...

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  3. Hi Ian. Great to be able to read your blog again. Happy New Year to you and your family.

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    1. Happy New Year to you and yours Mary, Thanks for visiting...

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  4. Thanks for the blog renewal! Glad for the read. Keep on keeping on.

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    1. Sleepless nights ahead - Hopefully due to coffee :) ...

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  5. Hi Ian, Yes, I am one of those who still visit to see if you have added an update. I miss your blog and often wonder how things are going for you.
    I'm so sorry you have all had such a difficult year, especially when made worse by uncaring people.
    I'm currently back visiting the Uk for the usual annual visit, only a few weeks and I'm already missing the Greek sky...(it seems so much nearer out there doesn't it?) but I'll soon be back sitting close to our little wood burner that you kindly gave me advise about when I fitted it. I'll try and get a few bits posted on my blog so you can keep a toe in the (rather cold) Aegean if you wish to pop in and have a look.
    I wish you, Kamila and Junior a very Happy new year. May it bring you all health and strength, happiness and some blue skies too. Bruce

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    1. Hi Barty, Good to hear from you again. Pleased the woodburner is still doing its mighty fine job. Yes missing the skies but they are lower here - Its the cloudbase :) ...

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  6. Hi, please keep writing as I love reading your blogs, you have such a brilliant way of communicating. We are Skiathos lovers and one of those who visualise the dream and you have helped with the reality in a positive way, thank you and all the very best for you and your wife. Cancer is a battle that can only be fought with love and togetherness.

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    1. Thanks Scott, Really appreciate the feedback ...

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  7. Keep going Ian. Nothing I can say is helpful in your circumstances, I can only continue watching you all.

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    1. You never struck me as a voyeur Dennis :) I understand you are a great scribe, perhaps we should compare notes. Thanks for the feedback ...

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  8. Glad to read the Blog again. I hope that 2016 will be a much better year for you and the family.

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  9. So pleased you are back so sad to read about your struggles but I think this is what you need we think of you Kamilla and Junior often and we share your hopes and dreams good luck for 2016 Ian.

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    1. Good to hear from you - Hope you are both well. Watch this space ...

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  10. Great to read your blog again Ian, very best wishes to you all for 2016.

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    1. Thank you, really appreciate the feedback ...

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  11. Great to read your blog again Ian, very best wishes to all of you for 2016.

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  12. Welcome back, you've been missed. Sending love and healing thoughts to you all.

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    1. Missed you this year too - Thanks for the feedback ...

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  13. Greeting from Cape Town, i am also one who regularly checks the blog and am delighted that you are back after what must have been a very challenging year. We all send our love and best wishes for 2016 to you and your family. Hoping to meet up in Skiathos soon. I shall drink a glass of good SA red at Newlands Cricket ground tomorrow (Day 5) and watch what will probably be a drawn match. good to have the blog up and running again. xxx

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    1. Hello 'Happy Family' Yes its been tough and still is. Its like the cricket, its going on and on, Hope we can save the draw at Newlands ...

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  14. Thankyou for updating us in what must be such a hard stage of all your family 's lives . Love and hugs being sent to you all xxxx

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    1. Hi Janiebaby, Tough times indeed, but we are doing our best. Chemo no 17 completed today, Thanks for visiting ...

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  15. Keep on fighting! You are the best! Hope to see you all at the Rock this sommer. Love xx Pelle and Marit

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    1. Thank you both, my diary is no longer distant than the expiry of my bus pass - Seven days :) Fingers crossed for summer, my friends...

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  16. Great to read your blog again Ian we we wish you and family all the best for 2016

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    1. Thanks Phil, thats very much appreciated ...

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  17. Thanks one and all for the huge feedback from my humble update. None yet from the Ukraine however, where the blog is creating huge interest- Probably as I mentioned the price of Gas.
    SWMBO is back home resting after Chemo no 17, and a two hour delay in her treatment, due to the holiday backlog.
    Thanks one and all for the feedback, messages of support and the love of 'a small rock in the aegean' ...

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  18. Sending you all peace and love from your old home town from the hunter gatherer's remember that Ian.

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  19. Wishing all of you the very best for the forthcoming year and it is good to see you back Ian :)

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  20. Good luck and best wishes Ian

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  21. Great to see you back - you have been missed; wishing you all the very best for 2016 x

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  22. Good to see you back, and let's hope 2016 is a good year for you all.

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  23. Good to see you back Ian, sad to read of your struggdes, hope you are more settled now, thinking of you all sending best wishes for 2016 Xxx

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  24. Good to see you "on the blog" again Ian. Happy New Year to you and the family, and I do hope things go OK for you all this year.

    Take care,

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  25. Wonderful to catch up with the blog again, best wishes for a happier and healthier year to you all.

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