To sleep, perhaps?

March 23, 2010

It’s almost four years since we arrived here and still we are sometimes caught out by people, by practices, by behaviour.  Happily when it happens it is usually in a good way.

Recently we ended up seeing a medical specialist, a surgeon, for a referral regarding a long-standing orthopedic problem.  Seven or eight months after the problem first presented there was no real improvement, in fact it could be argued that the problem had worsened significantly.

The Doctor who had been overseeing the case agreed that further action was needed so phoned the surgeon, on his mobile, to arrange the consultation.  No nurses or adminstrators were involved in this; the Doctor pulled out his mobile phone and speed dialed the surgeon.  This is how things are done here.

When the appointment came around the surgeon examined the dodgy joint and agreed there was a problem.

But, this is not the problem you first had.  Then you had this, now you have that as well.

There is a surgical procedure that may help, he said, but it is a drastic approach.

Despite no improvement in the last half year there was one more medicine that could be tried.  Try that and it puts back surgery a month, he said.  If it doesn’t work then we are only one month further on; really, we have lost nothing.

The surgery is brutal; manipulation of the joint under general anesthetic.  Think of the joint as a gate that has rusted shut, no amount of reasonable force will open the it.  The surgery is unreasonable force, hence the need for the general anesthetic.  Were it to work the underlying initial problem would still exist.

So, we agreed to try the last-ditch drug approach first.  The surgeon produced a prescription pad and rattled off a script for three separate medicines.  One, a type of steroids to try and release the joint and then two drugs in relation to pain relief.

We picked up the drugs at a local pharmacy and headed home.  A week we could no longer avoid the fact that the three drugs had been prescribed in massively different quantities; a 20 day supply of one but only a 10 day supply of another.

For a while we kicked about what to do.  Call the surgeon and ask for more?  We have a mobile phone number for him but no other way of contacting him.  Being English it seems rather inappropriate to telephone a surgeon and ask for more drugs.  What if he’s scrubbing for surgery at the time?  Yes, it’s probably an English thing, a Cypriot would think nothing of this.  After all he gave us the mobile number himself.

Anyway, English reticence stopped that so we decided to thrown our selves on the mercy of the pharmacy that dispensed the drugs.  Despite being prescription only in England perhaps these were over the counter (OTC) meds here in Cyprus?

A quick visit to the pharmacy brought an unexpected resolution.  Explaining the problem; you filled a prescription for me a week ago and now I need more of the same drugs.  Must I have a prescription from the surgeon or is it possible to get more from you now?  gave the following response;

Ah, those you may have without a prescription.  They are to protect the stomach.  This is ok.  It is important that you take these.  Oh, but these, well these need a prescription.  They are strong painkillers, they must be approved by a doctor.

Ah, but, I remember you, and last time you had a prescription so it must be ok.  So, yes, I will give you some more.

Surprised by the response a cheeky request for double quantities was met with a slight frown and then a nod.

Twenty days supply of painkillers.  Twenty days of the possibility of sleep after half a year of painful broken nights. Bliss.  Absolute unmitigated drug-induced bliss.

It’s amazing what is possible with regular sleep.  Or rather, it is shocking what isn’t possible without.  As Ian is wont to observe; sleep deprivation is a hugely effective and much used method of torture for a reason.

So this week, much love is on its way to the pragmatic approach of the pharmacist. And a full night’s sleep.  Again.



  1. […] making a regular round-trip to Paphos.  There practices a specialist who may be able to make the scary surgery unnecessary.  It’s early days but we’re quietly […]

  2. […] in Cyprus « Paphos once more Icebergs ahoy! April 23, 2010 Treatment on the dodgy joint continues, complete with the weekly trips to […]

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