Anyone that knows Terry will understand his complete distaste and mistrust of any kind of medical institution. So on a sunny day as I was prepping the pups meals he walked calmly into the kitchen holding his arm and said “babes I need to go to the hospital”. His words struck the fear of God into me because I knew it had to be serious – very serious. He was holding his hand tightly and had no colour in his face. I grabbed a large bath towel for him to wrap it in and them went into auto mode. A quick dash up the stairs for his Lichna Karta and EHIC card, chucked the pups in their box and picked up the car keys and phone. We set off and I hadn’t even looked at the injury. Terry told me he’d been using the hand saw and in a freak accident had cut through his hand so that white bone and tendon were clearly visible. I raced around to the local shop parked the car and jumped out to ask Evan the owner where would be the best place to go. He replied that there was a hospital in Levski but if the injury was bad then I’d have to drive the 45 minutes to Pleven. I raced to the hospital nervously looking at Terrys colour. He was terribly white but extremely stoic. The doctor at Levski took one look, emptied the emergency room and without asking gave him a tetanus and an antibiotic shot. Paperwork was completed and we were told to go to the hospital in Pleven. The Doctor spoke no English and I was so stressed that when I asked for the name and address of the hospital the nurse scribbled it on the back of Terrys paperwork and sent us on our way. I had also seen the gash by now and it was serious and Terrys hand was swelling by the second and his fingers resembled nothing more than cumberland sausages.
I could neither read the writing it was so appalling and couldn’t remember the name let alone the address. Terry was by now in so much pain and was beginning to get stressed and frustrated. I told him that if I couldn’t find the hospital we’d stop at the first hospital we saw and if it wasn’t the right one we’d pay a taxi driver to get us there. The road to Pleven is a main trucking route and the standard of driving is dire. I’m a confident driver but not a dangerous one. However given the circumstances I girded my loins and drove as fast as I could without getting us killed. There was a high wind and the Landy, all 2 tonne of her was being buffeted so badly my hands gripped the wheel till my knuckles were as white as Terrys face. The phone we’d picked up had died on us but thankfully we found a car charger and Terry rang Ian, our good friend. It was a difficult decision because we knew he had his Bulgarian girlfriend and her 3 children with him for the weekend.
What can I say. Silviq his lovely girlfriend answered and passed her phone to Ian. In his no nonsense northern way he said “Meet us at Lidl in Pleven, the hospital is about 500 metres further down the road on the same side, if you’re not there I’ll take it you’ve found the hospital and I’ll meet you there”. We were both elated and felt truly blessed to have friends to rely on. We did find the hospital, parked up and paid the prerequisite 2 leva parking charge. I didn’t have all the words necessary to explain what had happened but the aged and cheerful concierge hurried us to an emergency trauma Doctor that spoke English. He was so lovely and his English was perfect. One look at Terrys injury and he said we needed the orthopaedic surgeon. He then escorted us to the surgeon and explained to the nurse (75 if she was a day and straight out of an Eastern block movie) that Terry needed to see the surgeon. We were asked to wait outside till the surgeon could be paged.
10 minutes later a very nonchalant and urbane surgeon, resplendent in blues and crocs turned up and ushered us into the office. He examined Terrys hand brusquely pulling the jagged edges of the wound wide open till Terry was wincing and blenching simultaneously. He explained that Terry had been extremely lucky and both tendons and bones were intact. He motioned to the nurse to dean it up and give him a topical anaesthetic. What followed would have been comical if it wasn’t such a stressful situation. The old girl stood with difficulty and knocked over the bin and blood soaked dressings of all types and sizes spewed over the floor. She bent slowly to pick them up until the surgeon snapped at her to wear gloves. In what seemed like comedic slow motion she extracted a glove that resembled those cheap thin gloves provided with hair colouring packs and scooped the debris back in the bin. Terry and I were now stuck somewhere between hysteria and fear. The nurse then approached with a GLASS syringe and without any warning stabbed Terrys arm then applied the anaesthetic. She did not have a soft hand! We were told to wait outside for half an hour for the anaesthetic to take effect and to see if there were any allergic reaction.
As we sat in the corridor we watched the ebb and flow of patients and waited nervously for Ian and Silviq. I wasn’t sure I’d understood everything. I assumed they were going to stitch Terry up but for all we knew they could have been preparing him for another procedure. Then we saw Ians head way above any of the surrounding Bulgarians. Poor Silviq who has Tinnitus followed and I could see the noise of the hospital was excruciating. What can I say except good friends are worth their weight in gold. Shortly after Terry was called in and we all waited outside. 5 minutes later Terry exited the room with an enormous bandage and looking extremely red in the face. The surgeon was explicit that Terry not use the hand. He turned to me and said I was to change the dressing every 2 days and after 12 days go to our local hospital to have the stitches removed. As he waved goodbye to us Terry regaled us with the story of the stitches. He recounted that the material used to stitch the wound felt like sewing cotton and that the stitching itself could only be described as homeward bounders! As Silviq was really quite ill we said our heartfelt thank yous and we all set off for our respective homes. So all in all we were extremely pleased with the service, it was remarkably quick, it cost nothing and the kindness we were shown was exceptional. It was a baptism by fire but it gave us both the confidence that we could navigate the healthcare system in Bulgaria. As an addendum Terry went back to working on the roof the following day.
The roofing of the mud outbuilding turned out to be an exercise in frustration and despondency. There are piles of tiles outside almost every building in Bulgaria, whether private or commercial. So it should have been easy to source them, right? Well we have scoured the area, spoken to local mayors and had no luck. The local shop keeper told us we were welcome to strip the roof of his barn. Relieved and grateful we sped around to find the barn height was enormous and the rafters all but rotten. Terry called it and said it wouldn’t be safe to remove them. The other problem we encountered was the Bulgarian naming of said roof tiles, Keramidi, Plotchki, Fayanchka all of which I used and received blank stares. Tsigli is what the villagers understand. Eventually we stopped of at the Cooperative in Balgarene and were directed to a huge field that was scattered with said Tsigli. We negotiated a price; sadly an “Anglichani” (term used to refer to Brits) price of 40 stotinkies a tile, about 10 more than they should have been. Terry and I collected about 900 and painstakingly loaded them into the trailer on the Landy and the back of poor old Gertie the transit. How Terry got that poor vehicle home I don’t know – it’s backside scrapped the tarmac at every bump and jolt.
What Terry started with
Having bought them home Terry started to tile and having completed 1 side of the outbuildings and started the other we discovered a 1 cm difference in over half of the remaining tiles. This meant that Terry had to re baton the remaining side of the roof. Having done this he then found out that a further 1/3 of the smaller tiles had a different pattern. Terry by this time was beside himself in frustration. We decided to call in our friends Paul and Ian and get him some help. I had a transient attack of vertigo which rendered me useless on the roof or for handing up tiles. Long story short the roof is tiled but whether it will be watertight is another matter. Monday rain is due so we’ll find out then!
So we are now ready for our chickens but need to finish off the fine points of the roof. Currently Terry is reworking the metal gates so they fit the new access to the gatehouse and the rebuilding of the wall to the property behind so that it becomes 1 property in effect. More images to follow in the next post.
The puppies are healthy, noisy and spending much of the day outside exploring the garden, annoying the pigs and running us ragged. All in all there is barely time to breathe. We are both a little worried by the thought of not finding suitable homes for them. A qute frightening thought which is difficult to escape because EVERYONE keeps bringing it up. We have homes for 5 of them but that leave another 5 to home!
On the gardening front my efforts at transforming the garden into a personal Eden is stymied by the extent that the earth is root bound. Yeorgi and his wife Nellie has told us that the house hadn’t been lived in for nearer to 20 years and neither had the garden been touched since then. Small wonder that I’m fighting such a battle with roots and weeds. However spurred on by the seedlings sprouting in the poly tunnel I’ve cleared 3 areas and working on another 2 of the very worst areas. 1 of these is the spud and beet patch. Even Terry has taken the rotavator off me thinking I wasn’t strong enough to use it properly. He completed a couple of lines before admitting that it wasn’t going to be an overnight job. I am still removing roots and still haven’t achieved the tilled surface I need to get the spuds planted. I have till 4th April to do so. I have managed to plant out the first sowings lettuces, spinach, chard, strawberries, goji berries, blueberries and some more fruit trees. The autumn sets of onions and garlic are almost ready to harvest and the spring sets are planted. I’ve also started to plant flowers that are both aesthetic and have properties that will enhance the growing areas. Nasturtiums, Lavender, French Marigild, Petunias and Astors.
I’m not sure they will survive the puppies ministrations. They spend all day out in the garden exploring and being annoying little pests. So much so that Vinnie has begun to discipline them but also lies together with them baby sitting and protecting them. Which is a good job because Bodie couldn’t give a jot. She feeds them if necessary because at 6 weeks they are almost weaned and her poor teats are ragged and scarred from the puppies teeth and nails. They are beautiful puppies but they are hard work and what we refer to as 6am shitageddon run has us trembling in our beds. They are getting better and we’re down to about 3 poos but lots of wee in the morning. Not too bad until the puppies hear us and trample the effluence all over themselves and their quarters. Terry has to wrap a towel around his face to stop retching as I haul them out, pass them to him and then they are unceremoniously dumped outside till we’ve cleaned up. We are never, ever doing this again. Tallulah and Bikini Bob are featured this week!