Athens, Greece: Day SixDecember 23, 2011
Posted by Kanga.
Day six was a totally un-tourist day.
First, you will need a little background. DaddyBird has sleep apnea. This means that as soon as he falls asleep his throat muscles relax so much that his airway is cut off and he cannot breathe. This is easily dealt with by a little machine that blows air into his airway to provide enough pressure to keep it open. (a “Constant Positive Air Pressure” machine or CPAP.) This is great until you travel away from home and your little machine stops working. After several nights of trying to sleep unaided and getting less and less sleep (me too, because listening to my husband gasping for air and suffocating is decidedly unrestful) we decided that something must be done.
So, how does one find assistance in repairing or replacing medical equipment in a strange city? With some difficulty, as we can attest.
First, after using Google to obtain an address for a medical equipment business that was within walking distance of a metro train station, we set off to take the train. Arriving at the address, we discovered that it was an apartment building, no medical equipment retail shop. Dead end.
Next, we took a taxi back to our apartment neighborhood and walked to a small hospital (more of a clinic) in the neighborhood to ask there. The receptionist understood enough English to understand our dilemma, but could not recommend an equipment store, but did suggest that we go to the pharmacy down the street and ask there.
The pharmacist was very nice and suggested that we go to a specific store, but could only give the most general description of it’s location – across from Hospital Soteria. (We found out later that this is not a specific hospital building, but a large area where there are many hospital facilities.)
So, we got into another taxi and showed him the note written by the pharmacist. The driver tried to get more specifics from us, like the actual address, but we could not help him in that. He did get us to the street and asked us if he should turn left or right at the intersection. I looked to the right and, low and behold, there was a medical equipment store, so we got out there.
Maria Elaina, the clerk in this store, was very helpful and somewhat happy to practice her English. As we had expected, getting the machine repaired would take weeks, time that we did not have. So, we needed to buy a new one. She, very cutely, warned us that they are very expensive and we nodded and told her it didn’t matter, we must have one. So, luckily our credit card worked (not a given with our bank). Maria Elaina told us the machine would be delivered to our apartment in two hours. We went away very happy shoppers, although 1,100 Euros/$1,438 poorer. It is possible to get a CPAP machine for much less, but not when you are desperate in a strange town and need it yesterday.
Now, we were standing in a strange part of town, looking for a taxi, with the smallest bill in our pockets being a 50 Euro. So far, our taxi rides within town have not exceeded 7 Euro, so we needed smaller bills. The neighborhood was not conducive to this quest. We were walking through the medical equipment store section of town. No shops where we could buy a little something in order to break a bill.
Amusingly, after our big ordeal to find a CPAP machine were were now walking past store after store advertizing and display ing them.
So, after walking a ways, we saw a “light.”
Sometimes branding is a good thing. A Toys R Us store where we could buy a little something and break a bill. Two smurfs and a fake Christmas tree later, we were in a taxi headed home.
This taxi ride was interesting (for DaddyBird, at least). The driver was talkative and once he learned that DaddyBird is a computer geek, the computer speak began. They reminisced about the old computer and video game machines they had back in the day.
As promised, around 7:30 pm the man delivering our precious little machine arrived. As of this morning, DaddyBird has slept quietly around the clock. All is well. Now you know what we got each other for Christmas.