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Chris Sayer’s Travel Diary

Sunday, 10 May 2009

Location: Istanbul, Turkey

MapSo our journey continues. Through time, not space. We remain in the same space – this single bed hospital room in Istanbul, with Anne’s fold-out single bed in the corner. The plastic surgery finally happened last Thursday, and it provided some surreal moments. We were expecting a general anesthetic, but when I was wheeled into theatre, the Doc said “we’re going to do something different today”. My mind started racing – were we all gonna go down the pub instead, or were they gonna try a new technique on this unwary Australian guinea pig? Instead of a GA, I had an epidural – an anesthetic injected into the back to deaden me from the waist down. A better method, avoiding the potentially dangerous GA, and consequently I was awake for the entire two hour procedure. A curtain across my chest forced me to miss the floor show, and by the sound of the device that was used to cut the skin off my thigh, I think I was happy not to witness the carnage. The conversation between the theatre staff was casual, the occasional laughter, but unfortunately in Turkish, so I was the odd-man-out. So I was forced to watch the digital clock on the wall and listen to the Istanbul radio station that was playing in the background. The playlist was 1980s western pop – Video Killed the Radio Star, Grease, Sam Brown’s “Stop”, Footloose, Oasis, and Kylie (with “I’ve Got to be Certain”). My daughter Leah’s favourite artist is Kylie, and why else would a Turkish radio station be playing Kylie if not to let me know that Leah was with me in that operating theatre?
So I emerged from this session with the top of my foot finally having skin coverage (although still swathed in bandages and a plaster backslab), and an additional “injury” to my left thigh wrapped in a bandage and feeling like a second-degree burn. Oh well, something to take my mind off my injured left foot. Two days later I had the thigh dressing removed, to expose the wound to air and allow it to dry. This was probably the most pain I’d felt since the accident – no amount of pain relief could stop me feeling the doctor peeling off this bandage that had stuck to the wound after the post-op weepage. And I might add that the final scene was not a pretty sight, but one step closer to coming home.
We were told that the other area of concern – the heel – was progressing on its own by regenerating the missing muscle. If this continued, the Istanbul surgeon could reapply the skin flap for the journey home, and I then have the heel operation in Launceston. Maybe.
In the meantime, Anne has been getting out and about, taking walks near the hospital and even catching a taxi further afield to a fashionable shopping district where she buys paperback novels to read, and even bought a video camera for the laptop to allow us to talk to home.