So we got back to the campsite in Vilnius Thursday 14th June – 10 days ago – and on route, we bought some good strong anti-inflammatory sweeties (Ibumax 600mg) and I started chewing on them just like sweeties as they were going to be good for me! I took my first at about 3pm Thursday; my 2nd at about 8pm and my 3rd as I was settling down to go to sleep at about 1am. Friday morning when I woke, I couldn’t tell which was swollen most, my duff knee, or my lower lip!
My body had reacted badly to the Ibumax and my lower lip was now badly ballooned. So we decided that I ought to go see a doctor and we asked the campsite attendant if he knew where the local doctor was and he very kindly offered to give us a lift there in his car – as it happens it was only 3 or 4 kms away. It was supremely handy to have a local with us as we went into the hospital, as not only did he speak the local lingo (as well as good English, Polish, Russian & German) but he also knew how to approach the right people in the hospital. When we arrived there, we went to the reception desk and they just told us to take a seat, so myself & Tamar did just that. Meanwhile Linus (the campsite attendant) sort of hovered by the reception desk, and when a chap looking like a doctor appeared, he collared him and asked him if he could help some hapless tourists. So within the next 20 minutes, I’d had a quick blood-test done, and was on a trolley with a drip attached to my right arm and was getting a jab in my backside all to deal with the swollen lip and my allergic reaction to the Ibumax. Then a 2nd doctor had a look at my swollen knee and confirmed the bursitis and told me that super-strong anti-inflammatories are the wrong treatment and that pain was good for me as it would stop me using the joint that my body wanted me to rest. So he prescribed a gel for the knee (non Ibuprofen based) and told me to rest and listen to my body. So we were leaving the hospital about 2 hours after we’d gone in which was pretty good – and I got to use my EHIC card for the first time.
So since then, I’ve been rubbing the gel into my knee about 3 times-a-day and lying around the tent not doing a great deal!
On Saturday, the knee felt quite a bit better, and Vilnius was hosting a massive weekend of cultural events, but we decided that it might be better for my knee if we stayed put on the campsite, so we went nowhere.
Lithuania was one of the last European countries to convert to Christianity and as a result, it is said to have a closer link to its pagan past and so it celebrates things like the mid-summer solstice a little more fervently that many other nations … but we didn’t go anywhere as my knee was still quite tender and still swollen.
On Monday, it was feeling worse than it had over the weekend, and I really had been resting it a lot. So I was feeling a little disheartened and was considering going back to the hospital, but after exchanging some emails with medically minded friends back in the UK (thanks Paul & Justin) we decided to leave any return journey until Tuesday. Tuesday morning, the knee was a bit better than Monday, so we decided just to stay on the campsite and keep up the program of rest.
I think I’ve read more in the last week, than I have in the last 4 or 5 years put together! I’ve finished, cover to cover, 4 magazines and my book about Martin Luther (a right riveting read)! For me, that is unheard of. Meanwhile however, during my period of incapacity, Tamar has gone and found herself a somewhat more active man, in the form of Tarzan! Seems the chappy who wrote the Tarzan books, between 1912 and 1940, wrote 24 of them and as it happens, Tamar has all 24 of them on her e-reader and now she admits that he (Tarzan that is) was a childhood hero of hers and that she had hoped to marry him one day. So in the last 10 days, she has demolished (at the last count) 19 of the Tarzan books.
Since about Wednesday, the knee has been feeling better enough to walk on a little, so we’ve been trying to get other things done, like updating some other stuff on the review pages of the blog (read the updated tent review and Trangia stove & burners review if you’re really keen). And we’ve been doing more research about where we’re likely (or hoping … knee & all things permitting … ) to be later in the year and what visas we’ll need to get and where we’ll get them.
We’ve met lots of nice people as well, from the orienteering couple from Minsk in Belarus who were in Lithuania to take part in a couple of orienteering events, and a handful of Polish cycle-tourists, to the German evangelist who very kindly left us with a couple of tracts to gently encourage us to turn from the evil in the world. But interestingly, no other long-term travellers have come into the campsite – how unlike our first stop here 2 weeks ago.
I made my first trip out though the gate of the campsite on Friday afternoon (22nd June). That was a full 7 days of going nowhere other than the tent, to the toilet block, to the kitchen and back to the tent. We took the bike out to give the knee a test ride and went to a camping shop about 8kms away. The knee was … well it was okay, but it wasn’t great. There’s still a lump below the kneecap, as though the bursa is still retaining some fluid. We bought a few bits in the camping shop and then went into the nearby supermarket and treated ourselves to a (very cheap) bottle of whisky (and not bad for the price). So it was good to get out. I also got a support bandage for the knee and I’ve been wearing that now since Friday, and I think it is helping to bring down the size of the lump by way of a bit of massage as I walk and move the leg. On Saturday (23rd June) we got a few more things done around the campsite – I mended some tiny punctures in Tamar’s sleeping mat and we ordered a new washing machine for our tenants – so all important stuff.
We are now hoping to get away from the campsite on Sunday (24th June) and maybe just do a number of shortish days and see how the knee copes. The gel I was putting on my knee has caused some of the skin to peel and so I’ve since reverted to some normal strength ibuprofen – so that, together with the bandage and some short days, should be okay to let us keep moving.
Last year’s delays were due to bike and trailer problems, and they were quite frustrating at the time, but looking back and comparing it to this delay, I have to say it is preferable to be delayed and fully able-bodied than delayed and having to spend most of your time in a tent. After last year, we both know Roscoff in France and Novi-Sad in Serbia very well after long stop offs in each town. As yet, I barely know Vilnius city, as I’ve been stuck in the campsite every day. Anyway, we will move on, and just take it gently.