We booked a trip with our friends Kevin and Andrea to go rock climbing in Crete. The first day we drove about 3 hours to the south side of the island. The drive was absolutely beautiful with mediterannean landscape and mountains. It was super windy with a bunch of dirt roads and a few goats....okay a ton of goats. The house we rented was on top of a hill with a killer view of the ocean.
The next day we had planned to go climbing but it rained so we hopped in the car and drove some more winding roads to a town called Matala. This areas is known for caves where a bunch of hippies lived in the 70s. The town has a bunch of artists and painted streets and such, likely the hippie influence.
Kevin and Andrea enjoying the scenery.
Kevin before the wave.
Kevin during the raid.
We went for a little hike up the mountain to the red beach. I don't know why it is called the red beach since it was yellow. But it was a beautiful hike.
We ate at a fabulous restaurant with an ocean view. We watched people jump off of rocks and took pictures of people jumping off of rocks, and took pictures of people taking pictures of people jumping off of rocks.
We rented the house from airbnb.com and the owner, Lior, is also a climber, and adventure guide, so he invited us to tag along with him, which was very convenient because the area was difficult to find. First we met him at his cafe, then we rode in a 4x4 vehicle to the top of the canyon. We hiked in through the narrow canyon and had to jump into water and cross a little river as the water was still running from the winter melt. It was super cool. There were also some goat bones such as the jaw and vertebrae.
The rock climbing area was absolutely incredible with a bright red wall. Then the canyon opened out onto the beach and there were a few climbs along the beach. We started one and decided it was too tough so we moved to a different one. I tried it and couldn't do one of the moves so Quinn went up to give it a shot.
That brings us to the moment I wish I could change. Quinn was working through the route when all of the sudden I saw him come off the wall in a twisting position. His foot had caught in a crevice and his hand slipped causing him to turn outward and break his leg. It was an open fracture with his bone coming out of the skin. He called down to me to lower him and I brought him down to the ground. He immediately grabbed his foot, pulling it over to close the opening which was almost 180 degrees of his ankle. Then I tied a tourniquet with my shirt and some of our climbing gear. As I mentioned earlier we were in a really remote location, and it was not possible to get Quinn out the way we came in. There are, inconveniently, no helicopters on the island of Crete. Luckily we had Lior with us (who also happens to be former German Armed Forces) and he jumped into action. There were quite a few people in the canyon and everyone worked together to help us. Lior called his mother who coordinated with the local fishermen and ambulance to provide transport. Someone found a chair in a cave (where people live during the summer), then we slung some climbing rope up under the chair and Kevin and Lior muscled Quinn from the climbing area to the beach where a small fishing boat met us. It took about 7 people to stabilize the boat which drove up onto the beach to get Quinn inside. Then it started pouring rain. I laid on top of him to stabilize him and keep him dry while we took the ride around the mountain so that we could meet the ambulance at the dock. When we got to the dock, the ambulance was not there yet, and two other fishermen muscled him out of the boat and into the back of a pick up truck which drove us to a small shipping container type office where the fishermen started a fire to warm/dry us. The ambulance came about 10 minutes later. The whole process up to this point was a little over 1 hour. The ambulance drivers stabilized Quinn's leg in position and then we started the long 2 hour drive across two mountain passes to the north of Crete to the largest hospital on the island in the city of Heraklion. Within about 2 hours of arriving at the hospital Quinn was undergoing emergency surgery to repair the broken bones and close the open wound. He broke both the fibula and tibia and needed a metal plate and 8 screws, one of which will have to be removed in a later surgery.
So, Quinn and I spent 4 days in the hospital while he recovered from surgery and received IV antibiotics. The first three nights we spent in a tiny little hospital bed together and on the 4th night I was able to secure a room at a little inn for family members of people who are at the hospital, with assistance from the owners of the other airbnb place we booked later in our trip. He was given codeine and some other medications so his pain was pretty well controlled. Most of the staff spoke English so we were able to communicate with them about issues/concerns. Of course being in a hospital is very stressful even when you are in your native country but being in a hospital where you are out of your own culture compounds that effect.
Some interesting cultural differences in Greek medical care. They took NONE of our information prior to providing care for Quinn. They didn't even have our street address. We could have skeedadled right out of there and no one could have found us. The doctors don't really tell you anything unless you specifically ask. Otherwise they just say, "doing good." Even during rounds you don't get much of an update. EVERYONE at the hospital has a family member staying with them at all times. Due to the Greek financial crisis all government systems (including healthcare) had a 25% budget cut across the board. This means less staff to help. So the family members make up the slack by helping people to the bathroom, pushing wheel chairs, opening doors and so on. We even had someone else's family member help to wheel Quinn down to xray! They don't give you pitchers for water. You must go buy your own bottled water down at the cantina. There is no cafeteria for family or staff. Therefore, a few little restaurants and cantinas have sprung up around the hospital to provide people with a place to eat. Visiting hours are quite lax. Our roommate had visitors until 10:30 one night. Actually, most of the visitors don't even start showing up until 8:00. Boy do people have visitors! Sometimes like 8 at a time. The rooms get packed. Every room has a balcony and you can see tons of visitors all smoking on the balconies and basically having a frat party. I kept joking with Quinn that it was like being at a fraternity house! Here are the balconies and the view from the room.
Also, there are pictures of religious figures everywhere and even a little altar in each room. I am not sure if you put a statue or a candle or what on this but here it is.
If you want to watch tv you must pay 2 euros per day. If you don't want to watch tv then they actually take the TV away! Isn't that hilarious?
Around the rest of the hospital things work in a very different manner than I am accustomed to. Each patient gets a piece of paper for various things that they need, for example, an xray. Then they go over to the xray department and instead of signing in, they just hold their paper and then as soon as the xray tech opens the door, they all rush to him and frantically hand their papers to try and be the next one seen. It is absolute chaos. Same situation in the emergency room. Everyone always has a white paper. Even me! (Lucky us we arrived by ambulance )
The woman that we rented our second room from (through airbnb) helped me to get a room at the family center. They gave me a white paper and I had to run around getting it signed by different people so that I could prove my husband was in the hospital and stay at their family center. Her husband also brought us towels so that we could dry off after a shower. They do not have towels at the hospital in Greece! It was so awesome of them to help us. They even tracked us down at the hospital to see what they could do!
Also, Greek people all talk to each other like they know everyone. For example, they will frequently ask you what happened to you and want to know everything. I had people in line often offering to help translate medical information or personal financial information for me. There is not really the same sense of privacy that we think of. It is kind of refreshing. They are just like, "hey here is your situation and that's it."
Nearly EVERYONE on staff was so helpful and kind. Here is a nurse that even though he didn't have a word of English made us feel so welcome. He made us special tea from the mountains of Crete and joked around with us through gestures and facial expression.
Quinn in bed.
We were discharged after 4 days and given all our medical records. One of the attending doctors kept telling us how "perfect" Quinn's surgery was and how well he would heal because his surgery was "perfect."
Pics on the way out from Quinn's point of view.
We have this insurance service called ADAC. It is kind of like AAA in the States. This service helped us tremendously! They "repatriated" us back to Germany. They had a doctor on staff that communicated with our doctor in the hospital and they booked our flight arrangements, ground transportation, and a hotel for us for two days before we were able to get on a flight. After we were discharged from the hospital they put us up in a five star hotel on the coast. The hotel didn't have a wheel chair so Quinn road the luggage cart up.
View from the room.
One good thing about the hotel and one bad thing. The concierge was able to secure us crutches within 20 minutes of arriving at the hotel. The home health company delivered them in about 10 minutes. It was amazing. The bad thing was the concierge refused to tell us any place to get food because they have a full restaurant. I think this is really poor business practice because people do not want to always eat in a hotel and to not help your guests is just crap. Especially, if one has a broken leg! I was pissed. Anyway, I wandered around for a while and found the cutest little new restaurant and they made us take out every day for lunch and dinner.
The trip from the hotel to the airport was by a car and a wheelchair. Everyone at security was very accommodating. We rode on some little strange bus thingy to get us to the airplane and it lifted us up so Quinn could just walk right in with his crutches rather than climb stairs. ADAC booked us 3 seats for Quinn so he could have his leg up and one seat next to him for me. The flight was uncomfortable for him but the staff tried their best to help.
Once we landed in Germany we were transported again by some little wheeled vehicle thing and then to medical transport. It is a two hour drive from Frankfurt airport and we were finally home at 1:30 am. It was a LONG day and Quinn was so tough through the whole thing.
We saw the German orthopedic surgeon yesterday and he said, "well, I have to say, they did a very good job." So it is nice to have a second opinion and one that is positive. I think this means a lot because anyone who has worked with an orthopedic surgeon knows that they usually think they are the only ones who can do anything right so a compliment from one to another means a lot.
A huge thank you to to all of the people who helped us out of the canyon including Lior, Francy, and Suzy. Also a big thank you to Andrea and Kevin who drove all around to get our stuff and then to come and sit with me during Quinn's surgery and to come and drag me out of the hospital for lunch one day. Also a big thank you to all of our friends who helped prepare our house for arrival and stock our fridge with food (Erin, Cole, Casey). An advanced thank you to Silvan who will be Quinn's PT once he is ready for rehab and again to Andrea who will provide massage to reduce scar tissue.
Emails and messages are welcome but we may not respond to all questions because frankly, it just takes too much time. We don't have much more information about the road ahead. You know pretty much everything we know at this point, but we will share it as we get it. If you would like to be on the update list by email then let me know that in an email and I will add you. I am sending out update emails with more personal details of things than I am posting on this blog. Hope you all are doing well.