About an hour into the flight I noticed P was looking very grey and unwell and asked if he was OK. The reply was Don't speak to me or touch me, I feel awful. Not his usual response so I felt slightly concerned, then the steward passed by and spotted P and asked if there was anything he could do. Water and a high-sugar drink were brought as they thought it could be low blood sugar, but by that time P was too ill to drink either.
He subsequently started to shiver violently, went completely grey with cold sweat pouring from his face, eyes rolling, then completely blacked out. He was sitting bolt upright with no movement whatsoever and the steward was looking at me as if to say Has he died? I was shaking him and trying to wake him up calling his name and getting more and more anxious by the second, then I slapped his face (a gentle slap I might add) and he woke up. Highly relieved, he seemed to be much better but still not very responsive, then a few moments later it all happened again. This time the blackout was shorter and the whole episode can't have lasted longer than three minutes but it was all very scary - when someone is icy cold and unconscious it seems like a lifetime. A call went out on the tannoy asking if there was a medical doctor on board. A kind young man stepped forward but said he couldn't do anything as Easy Jet don't carry any medical equipment other than two canisters of oxygen!
After P came round the second time he seemed better, but didn't know anything about passing out. P was given a canister of oxygen and the head steward went to talk to the captain. He came back with the shocking news that the plane was being diverted to Munich, where an ambulance and paramedics would be waiting. By this time the oxygen was having an effect and P was getting stronger by the second and he started to argue there was no need for a diversion. Too late, air traffic control had been alerted and we were on course for Munich.
|Walking with John in the mountains|
Paramedics were brought on and although they couldn't find anything wrong they said he needed to go to the hospital and have a CT scan and blood tests. P insisted adamantly that he was now fine to fly on and appealed to the captain, who said ok with the proviso that he signed a waiver, absolving Easy Jet of any responsibility. P was happy to do that and we settled back down into our seats waiting for take-off. Another tap on the shoulder from the steward, asking P to go to the cockpit again and P returned with the news that head office refused to allow us to fly on. By this time I'd had enough and was on the verge of tears, but I swallowed hard, bit my lip and did my best to be stoic as we were escorted off the plane. While they looked for our luggage the head steward was very helpful, telling us to go to the Easy Jet desk first to find out about flights and then to go to the airport clinic. He told us that before P would be allowed to fly with Easy Jet again he had to get a fitness-to-fly certificate.
|Local cats on hot car roof|
We subsequently found ourselves wandering around Munich Airport in a bit of a daze, which by the way, is not a bad place to be if you get thrown off a flight - clean, airy, bright, decent food, they know how to do it in Germany. Eventually we found the Easy Jet desk and it took a while before it slowly dawned on us that they don't fly to Athens from Munich. Screeeeeeeeam!
|Lovely local with the pattern in her head and hands|
By then thoroughly dejected, angry and confused, I suggested we go to the airport clinic which I'd seen on our travels, so we could try to get the fit-to-fly documentation. The doctor was the main one we'd seen on the plane and was very surprised to see us as she had thought they were allowing us to fly on and remarked it was all bullshit. After some basic medical tests, she gave P the required piece of paper with the warning that it was only for that day.
|There were some good times...|
After much deliberation - shall we go on, shall we get a hotel, neither of us really knew what we wanted to do except wipe the date off the calendar in future years - we eventually decided to continue our journey and get an onward Lufthansa flight at 340 Euros each. By this time we just didn't care, crossed our fingers and hoped the insurance would cover it.
|Does yarn come in this colour?|
We arrived in Athens seven hours late but managed to pick up our hire car and drive the four hour journey to Kalamata, as we felt we wanted to put an end to this whole episode in one go. The thought of getting up the next day and having to drive on was even more alarming than driving in the dark on the other side of the road! We had the backup plan that if we got too tired we'd find a hotel on the way. As it happened the road was empty and we mercifully had an uneventful trip, arriving around midnight, unable to sleep straight away as the adrenalin was still pumping. When we did manage to get into bed we slept round the clock.
|Just to prove P seems perfectly OK now|
Two weeks later, we were again slightly nervous when we fetched up at Athens airport, in case EasyJet decided they weren't going to allow P to fly back to the UK without yet another exam. However, thankfully this didn't happen and we had an smooth trip back. Phew!
|Rainbow entering Verga, Peloponnese|
Greece was lovely as ever - people, landscapes, food, music, cats. It was good to reconnect with locals we first met many years ago and to hang out a little with the expat community, as we were staying in a friend's home.
Only blot on the landscape was the mosquitoes and midges, for whom I was fine dining. I immediately acquired 40+ bites on my feet alone, then they must have decided to invite their friends and familes and I ended up looking like an oozing pincushion, applying cortisone, anti-histamine, and the most horrible chemical repellants in the constant battle to keep them at bay. As it's the ph in the skin which determines whether or not you get bitten, I was also applying vinegar, salt and garlic to my skin - P commented I had the aroma of a walking fish and chip shop!
|Ruin in Kardamili Old Town|
Feels great to get my spotty feet back under the kitchen table - even the imminent deadline for next book doesn't seem so bad!