Saturday, October 13, 2012

This and That

Today I have some time so I am going to blog about this and that - whatever comes to mind, hopefully with some pictures to boot! Here's a picture of a interesting traffic sign on Leoforos Kennenty.
First of all let me tell you about my recent health concern. After several days of being really sick with what I thought was the flu I finally called our doctor here. She is called Dr. Lucy because her name is difficult for non-natives. She is married to a Cypriot and has two children. She is also an American born and raised in New York - accent and all! I LOVE and adore her, she is a real person and cares about all her patients. I consider her more than my doctor, she is also my friend. We struck up our friendship almost immediately upon meeting one another. We had to visit her after we first arrived in Cyprus because we were struggling to make Cyprus Immigration happy with our medical papers so we could get our visas to live here. One is allowed to live in Cyprus for only 90 days, then one must have a Cypriot Visa in order to remain a legal citizen.
As I stated before I was really sick and called Dr. Lucy for help. She told me to meet her at the hospital emergency room so she could assess my illness. Now mind you - this was the week when we were without a car, since Tony had to return ours because the lease ran out and our mission president didn't want to renew it. (Our New Car - an Opal 7 passenger)
He was negotiating with another company to provide us with another car. Consequently Tony had to call a taxi to take me to the emergency room at Aretheion Hospital in Strovolos, a bit of a distance from our flat. When we arrived at the hospital I was struggling so hard to walk and could barely hold up my head I was so weak. I also was having trouble thinking and holding my eyes open. When I told Tony I was calling Dr. Lucy I told him, "I feel as though I am dying."
Little did I know how close to the truth that statement was. Dr. Lucy met us right away and she had me put into an examination room immediately. She decided to keep me in the emergency room for awhile to keep an eye on me and to pump me up with a Ringers IV with potassium. She told me I was having an electrolyte "crash". About half an hour later I was feeling somewhat better, but when I tried to get up to walk I couldn't do it. So she decided to admit me to the hospital for further treatment. She then sent me to a doctor who is a nephrologist at the hospital his name is kind of difficult to pronounce, it is - Dr. Efthyvoulos Anastassiades. Is that a mouthful or what? But I liked him immediately. He is THE most thorough doctor I've ever met. Right away he started asking me questions that lead to some answers that only I had known all my life. I have been having symptoms of an illness called 'Familial Mediterranean Fever'(FMF) all my life. I kept saying to myself, "How does he know this?" His questions lead to an almost certain diagnosis of FMF. He was asking me about my family and what was their origin. Of course he could see by looking at me I am of northern European descent, and I told him my father's family were all Scandinavian.
Then he asked, "By any chance was my mother Scottish?" I said yes, with English and a tad of Portuguese. BINGO! He asked if I knew about FMF, I said yes I did because I have a couple of cousins who have been diagnosed with it and two others who have been diagnosed with Thalessemia as well, both diseases are exclusively found in descendants of people who are from Eastern Europe as well as the Middle East. He said he was fascinated by this because I am an American by birth. Then he asked me how long I'd been having fevers and stomach pain, I told him all my life. I cannnot remember not having these symptoms.
(Our friend, Christina came to visit me at the hospital and brought treats for my visitors - here she's enjoying one of the goodies she brought.) Okay - so the upshot of all this is I have to be tested at the Neurologic Institute here in Nicosia, the only place in the whole world where they have experts on this malady. Can you believe it? And we got sent to Cyprus on our mission. There are 14 original genetic markers for FMF, but more than 150 more have since been discovered, so even if I don't test positive for the first 14 that will not mean I don't have the disease.
(Christina also brought me this lovely bouquet of roses.) I will be given the medication used to control the disease, and if it works - then I definitely have the disease. Because the medication will not work if I don't have it. I am excited at the prospect of finally finding a way to be alleviated from these symptoms and constant episodes of being laid out flat for a week unable to function.
This time the disease really tore me up inside and caused a complete electrolyte imbalance almost killing me in the process.
I do not want to go home, unable to complete our mission, I want to feel well and be able to do this work. Dr. Lucy told me that FMF is no small thing, because eventually the patient develops what is called amyloidosis, which doctors have now discovered can be the pre-cursor to lymphoma, among other ailments causing a failed heart, etc. (This beautiful bouquet of flowers was delivered to me after I got home from the hospital. They were sent by my dear friend Linda Mylonas, a member of our little branch here in Nicosia.) [A side note: Dr. Lucy is very proud of the Neurologic Institute because they have discovered a method of testing the blood of pregnant women that makes it possible to find neurological disorders in unborn children instead of having to use the method called amniocentesis, which is very invasive and dangerous for the mother and unborn infant. This is a major scientific breakthrough for such a small clinic in such a small country.]

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