I can only laugh now. The amount of ridiculous stories I accumulate overseas while playing professionally or traveling for leisure is really quite remarkable. Good thing I have a blog and platform I can publicly complain about it and rope you into my misfortunes. For those of you that did know what was going on, I am out of the hospital now, hooray! I am currently downing a 2L bottle of water (I am soooooo thirsty!!!) as well as a very very large coffee. I am certainly addicted to my various cups of daily coffee and not being able to leave my hospital room for those three days felt dangerously like caffeine-rehab. A tiny cup of filter coffee at 8am each morning was certainly not enough. But that wasn’t my largest problem. I’ll rewind to the beginning.
I started feeling sick exactly fourteen days ago. I had come home early evening from an outing with Papa George, Marisa, and Justin. I felt like I was starting to get a cold but crawled into bed early, thinking that a warm bed and early bedtime would kick it. Wrong. Fast forward to Wednesday. We are playing Olympiacos, our largest rivals (every season and for every sport), in their gym. Despite usually always going one and two in the league and/or cup, we didn’t play them in any friendly matches, nor had we watched any video on them except for the days leading up to the match. Games of any sport between my club, Panathinaikos and the rivals, Olympiacos are referred to as The Derby. Fans will get rowdy and entertainment will be plentiful. So: the biggest game of the year so far (until we play them again in February). Basically why I was hired for my team. Beat the rivals. I. Feel. Like. Death. Mind over matter mind over matter. Pretend you’re not sick. Tell yourself you’re fine and you will be. Put on your game face (quite literally with a lot of make up) and handle it! That’s got to work, right? I had pumped my body with so many legal drugs, vitamins, nose spray, minerals, more vitamins, and juice concoctions in the days leading up to the match that I though I was going to explode. A few quick sucks of the inhaler (oh yes that’s real life…) and cue game time. I can’t really feel my legs and my entire body of muscles and bones are so achey. Here we go. The first 10 points resulted in me shanking some passes… hmmm… this is going to be an interesting game. Why is everyone screaming so loud? My head hurts. Mind over matter mind over matter. Subbed out. Crawl to the bench and have all the team jackets piled on me while trying to catch my breath. We don’t do so well in this set. Set number 2: “Kyla you’re starting.” Pardon me what? I literally just spent the whole first set sitting down trying not to pass out, in a cold cold, clammy sweat (yuck!). But alright. Let's do this. Mind over matter mind over matter. Not having the ability to feel your legs while you are forced to jump around a hard court is extremely challenging to say the least. I don’t think I spoke any words the entire game.
Many of the photos taken from this match have me giving a thumbs up or pointing at other players. Hand signals for the win. Two friends I had met at church were also out to watch the match as well as Justin and his teammates. What a display I gave them (gulp!). Fourth set: game point for us! Win this point and then you can collapse. We did. Girls stormed the court. Then the referee blew her whistle and gave the point to Olympiacos, calling Reese “over” the net. Spoiler alert: it was the WRONG call (and the talk of all of Athens the next day) and unfortunately we lost that set and the fifth. Anyways, that was unfortunate and I’m sure it probably wasn’t the best to play through flu-like symptoms and exhaust myself more. But then I played half the game a few days later on Saturday. Welcome to the professional athlete life! Keep pushing until you end up in the hospital… oh wait…
Two days after the second match I was not getting better. During weight training I had some pretty brutal coughing fits (Oh yay! The symptoms are just changing and I'm not actually getting better…) and when I arrived at the gym later in the evening to do practice, my German teammate Jana said I wasn’t allowed to practice. I mean, teammates sticking up for teammates is the only way to go. Most of us female athletes are too stubborn to take ourselves out anyways. I ended up going home to sleep. Unfortunately this past week Dad was visiting I was really really ill; after training days I would just come home and pass out in my bed, unable to really do anything. What a drag! But I was really thankful that he was there to remind me to overdose on vitamin C and make me plenty of cup-a-soups. The next afternoon my manager texts me and tells me to go to the hospital for a chest x-ray because it’s crazy that I’m not better yet. Fiiiiiiiiine. I was still using and inhaler and taking some antibiotics but clearly it wasn’t working. Together with Dad, we trek to the hospital, I get poked and prodded for a good while, have some x-rays taken, and wait for results. The doctor that initially examined me said it sounded like I had a cat in my chest. I mean, “crackling”-wheezy sounds coming out every time you inhale and then exhale, doesn’t sound so healthy. Results are back: “your blood is fine but you have a strain of pneumonia and your lungs don’t look good. This worries me. I would like you to stay for a few days so I can watch you.” Huh? Stay… where? Here? In this hospital… ha! Oh, turns out she was very very serious. With her permission of course, I left the hospital and drove pops back to the apartment; he was leaving the next morning first thing to fly back to Canada. Even though my mother was strongly advising for him to stay, we said our tearful goodbye, and I drove back to the hospital with a backpack full of clothes and entertainment. Back to the check-in counter where they inform me my club isn’t paying for it and that in order to start my stay here I was going to have to pay 1800 euros upfront with a guarantee that I will pay the rest later. The next 10 seconds I didn’t speak but was imagining turning right around and walking out of the hospital. Message club manager and personal manager. Uhmmm… This is not okay. Front desk lady then informs me that I can stay tonight and deal with it tomorrow but if the club still refuses then I will have to pay after. Uhmmm… no. Try again. After about a 15 minute delay (they would figure it all our tomorrow) I am back to the outpatient clinic to be poked, prodded, and tested some more and finally a young sir arrives to take me up to my room. He brings me a wheelchair initially. I tell him that’s not necessary, unless he wants to use it to push my backpack. It's very heavy. Then he pulls out a smog mask. Is that for me? Oh. My. Gosh. So to not infect the entire hospital with whatever strain of whatever disease I have, I must wear this until I am quarantined safe and sound in my room. It doesn’t stop there in terms of the masks; every single nurse, doctor, cleaning lady, or food personnel that came into my room would first put on the full body surgical gown, rubber gloves, and a trusty mask. What aren’t they telling me here? What is wrong with me!!
I was in the hospital from Tuesday night to Saturday afternoon. From what was suppose to be one to two days in the hospital quickly turned into three and a half days. I didn’t leave my hospital room once. I was fully quarantined. The first day was a total blur. Usually I get so restless staying in one spot for so long but that day I hardly did or accomplish anything. They woke me up at 5 and 7 am to check vitals and feed me some more antibiotics (I was hooked up to some fluid via IV for the entire night… don’t roll over, don’t roll over…) and the most terrifying part: use of a gas mask from anywhere between 20-60 minutes. Most of the day consisted of me lying in my bed. Not really sleeping but not really being awake either. But this mandatory-quarantined time gave my body a second to slow down and realize how burnt out I actually was. Unnaturally, I was content just sitting there staring off into space. I must be reeeeally sick. Two of my managers came for a visit and I started binge watching The Crown on Netflix later that day. Thursday I was woken up by a nurse at 6am to take a blood sample… that is NOT an enjoyable first activity of the day. Man oh man. The day passed again, interrupted by nurses, doctors, food, reading, and binging Netflix. Three of my wonderful teammates surprised me in the evening and provided a lot of comic relief. Even though my hysterical laughter resulted in coughing fits, it was so lovely to see them. Albeit shocking, as they were required to wear the full surgical outfit during the visit (one hilarious video of them can be found on my Volleyball Facebook page here). They also informed me that there’s a “stop” sign on my door that says do not enter for any reason – doctor’s orders. Slightly terrifying. Friday: for a hospital, you don’t get much rest with all the hustle and bustle. Sleeping for 4 hours straight in the night was a blessing. Right when I had to put my gas mask back on (this occurred two to three times a day) Marisa popped in before team practice bearing a lot of gifts and a lot of chocolate from herself and my wonderful Canadian teammates Lucy and Dani. I mean, I’m not going to say no but I needed to remind myself I had literally been a potato for the past 72 hours. An hour visit was long enough; a nurse came to inject my IV and then took me down to see a sinus specialist or ENT. Bye Reese. You rock.
So sinus specialist did some crazy things. The PG version is: shoved some (what seemed like acid-) soaked cotton balls up my nose which I swore were so far deep into the cavity it touched my brain. While those were chilling up north, he went to town on my ears trying to suction out delightful things so far in my ears that he was bumping on my ear drums. Are you kidding me. SO loud. Sooooo painful. Then at the snap of a finger I felt sick to my stomach. Oh please Kyla, hold it together. Do not projectile vomit on to this sinis-specialist sir. Breathe breathe breathe. Okay… body temperature is rising rapidly… Stay calm. Ohmygoshhhh - it's the pre-pass-out stage: everything’s loud and everything’s blurry. “Sir… I feel reeeeeeeeeally sick. I think I might faint.” And 2 seconds later my chair was up in a full recline with feet in the air. Ahhhhh. Vision. Instant relief. He then finished the pain he was inflicting on me in this position. Oh the joys. He told me later that at least I told him I was going to faint. Often people get into that chair and pretend like they're fine and then all of a sudden, they’re unconscious in his chair. Okay, so first that makes me feel better that other people are fainting in front of sinus-man. Secondly, that is terrifying he’s making so many people faint from his practice. When I had come back to the sitting position and I thought I was done and saying a little prayer… he leaves the room and comes back holding what lots like a long black snake. What. On. Earth. IS. That!!!! “Oh this device just gives me the opportunity to look deeper into your nasal cavity." THERE IS NO WAY THAT THING IS FITTING UP MY NOSE. Well it did. And it was disgusting. Okay this has quickly turned into “too much information, Kyla” but you get the idea. And the level of my discomfort. I actually held my breath for 80% of the visit which to be fair, is actually quite amazing because my cough was so bad. I’m also very surprised he could do anything, seeing as my face was totally scrunched up, and my good hand had a death grip on my shirt. You have a bad case of Sinusitis ie. An insane sinus infection that has infected all cavities in my head and face, which has eventually come down to infect my lungs. Don't want anyone feeling left out! Infect all the things! He told me something about how I am going to need to do the equivalent of a netty pot and I swore to my own self I would never do that for my whole life (okay I’m a really big baby and it sounds so unpleasant). Well, I have to get over that quickly because I am required to do it 3-4 times a day. I wasn’t really listening though. I was trying to calm my soul from the tragically invasive procedure that had just occurred without warning. That and was trying to direct my attention to all the chocolate and goodies I had up in my room. Eat your feelings, Kyla. Back to my quarantined room of solitude; where the nurses are scheduled and predictable.
The rest of the day was filled with whatever the last two days entailed. More gas masks, more antibiotics and IVs. The nurses started liking me more, or word spread that I was on Panathinaikos because all of a sudden everyone was a bit chattier, and desserts and flowers were appearing on my food trays. At some point on day two or three, doc came back in to inform me that the influenza test came back negative. Uhhhh…. I didn’t even know that was a thing being tested. But okay… what a relief I guess. Can people stop wearing the creepy Joker masks now? My hand that had the IV protruding out of it got extremely painful and swollen, to the point where I wasn’t able to flex my hand. “Is this normal?” Yeah... It wasn’t. SO that had to get taken out and relocated to my forearm. There were a few other cute and fun things that happened during my stay but I think that’s enough for now. Saturday morning I woke up and was totally antsy. Four nights in the hospital was clearly my maximum. That was obvious when I escaped my room for the first time to go walk down and back up 12 flights of stairs before I went certifiably nuts and they would have to check me in on another floor…! I was asked if I wanted to go that afternoon or wait until my last scheduled antibiotics, which occurred at 8pm. Get me out of here. Doc let me flee the hospital but with prescriptions on prescriptions in hand. Antibiotics for the next two weeks, that foul saline-netty-pot type contraption, and an inhaler twice a day. Is that all? Oh. And if you can believe it: back Tuesday morning for a progress report INCLUDING another visit with Mr. Sinus Sir so he can perform the same procedure that almost made me fight a doctor. Cool. I would rather have self-injected antibiotics into my body. I quite literally ran down the 12 flights of stairs, went to the pharmacy, and then directed all my positive energy to my car, hoping that it wasn’t towed. It’s there. Thank goodness. Oh but wait: the side window was totally smashed in and all of the glass was all over the back seat. What a delightful get-out-of-the-hospital-universe-gift! The very back is covered up so I can only imagine that he or she thought they would find gold and diamonds in the trunk. What a waste of your time because there was literally nothing inside; I had learned my lesson after my entire backpack got stolen a month ago… from the trunk.
Reese put it perfectly: you are certainly being tested right now. Sigh. Back home to get groceries, dust the apartment, drink so much water, disinfect all surfaces, SHOWER, laundry x five, and drink the largest strongest coffee. My appointment Tuesday will determine whether or not I can start practice the next day and therefore be fit to play in our game next weekend. The girls played in Thessaloniki that day and won 3-0 and I really can’t wait to be back on the court. We really take health for granted when we have it, that’s for sure. Being healthy and injury free is truly amazing and I got a big dose of reality in that regard. I’ll try to do a better job at taking it easier when my body tells me and therefore, standing up for my health a bit better. But for now: time to rest and get healthy.
Anyone have any good movie recommendations?