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Sunday, November 10, 2013

Compassion in Greece, continued

I previously wrote about an experience I had in Greece (back in 2005): Compassion in Greece.

While on a class trip to Athens, Greece, I ended up with a monster migraine. One of the professors there responded with such kindness and compassion. He helped me, and then supported my decision to not miss the day at the Acropolis (despite my having sunglasses on, a jacket over my head, and needing assistance walking). He didn't question or belittle me. He simply offered my understanding, compassion, and kindness. And, that's what I hope I can offer to others.

It's so interesting to me, looking back from where I am today. I've dealt with frequent headaches for as long as I can remember. I had infrequent migraines, then, too (though, most of those were walks in the park compared to the migraines I've had since the accident). So much has changed, yet the love and provision of my God has stayed the same. He is always there.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.

Compassion in Greece

Yesterday, I posted about past anniversaries of my car accident:
October 10, 2013 marked the fifth anniversary of my car accident, here's what I wrote...

I had some anxiety leading up to today because I've had some difficulty on this day in the past. But, God blessed me with bringing a memory to my mind, reminding me that He always provides for my needs. Thanks to a Facebook post from my Alma Mater asking what our fondest memory of a certain professor is, I was able to re-live a moment that was painful, but comforting... and writing this blog post has allowed me to re-live beyond that moment.

Just a little back-story... I spent a semester studying abroad at my Alma Mater's campus near Rome. During the semester, the entire class and the Rome semester professors spend 10 days travelling together to a few different cities in Greece. Our Western Civilization professor offered amazing lectures at many of the sites along the way. It was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and I'm so grateful that I was able to participate!

The setting is Athens, Greece.

It was Carnival in the Eastern Orthodox Church (different date than the Western Christian calendar - think Mardi Gras), so the city was a big celebration. I decided to join the celebration in the evening with a group of friends - we were going to spend some time enjoying the festivities and try to find somewhere open to get something to eat.

After wandering around the city for a while, a migraine hit... HARD.

All I could think of was how am I going to get out of this crowd of people and back to the hotel?! I mentioned that I needed to leave immediately to my friends, and thankfully one of the guys said that he'd walk me back to the hotel and make sure I was okay. I told him I needed to get something to eat and something with caffeine to drink - we were able to find a Coke quickly, and then we stopped at the McDonald's just around the corner from the hotel for some chicken nuggets.

Unfortunately, I think I'd forgotten my migraine medication back at the Rome campus. See, these were before the days of chronic migraines... before the days of carrying my meds everywhere I go. I had frequent headaches, but was able to function through most of them. But, my more severe migraines weren't all that often. So, getting something to eat, caffeine to drink, and getting back to a dark / quiet hotel room was my plan of attack.

The girls I happened to be roomed with for those few days were understanding and helped however they could. But, the migraine continued.

If my memory serves me well... I spent the next day in the hotel room, doing my best to sleep off the pain. Honestly, I'm not exactly sure what all happened, but I'm pretty sure I missed out on some things. A large group of us went to church service that evening for Ash Wednesday (in the Eastern Orthodox Church). I struggled making it through the service, and talked with a professor's wife afterward to see if she happened to have any medicine that might help. Again, these were before the days that over-the-counter meds were the equivalent to tic-tacs for me. She didn't have anything, but apparently one of the professors (or his fiance) dealt with migraines and had some meds and knowledge of migraine. 

I talked with this professor, and he helped get me some meds and made sure I was going to be okay. He told me that I'd be excused from the following day's class trip to the Acropolis. I told him that there was NO way that I was going to miss that trip! How could I miss a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity like that?!?! He assured me that he'd help any way he could, if I decided to go the following day.

He checked on me the next morning at breakfast. I was still in quite a lot of pain, but was beyond determined to go with the group. So, he gave me a few suggestions on how to make it through the day outside in the blinding sun. I had sunglasses, a borrowed hat, a jacket or blanket draped over my head... luckily, we'd walk a bit and then stop and sit for lectures at various locations. He checked on me off and on throughout the day. I listened to him lecture. Someone helped make sure I was alright walking places. And, I peeked my head out to see the sites as much as I possibly could.

The Acropolis is one of the MOST interesting and beautiful sites I've ever seen! I would have deeply regretted missing the opportunity to visit it, so I'm glad that I was able to push through the pain and participate as much as I could. To this day, Greece (especially the Acropolis in Athens) is one of my favorite places in the world!

*I'm going to post a follow-up post to this later today, to share a few more reflections... so, please stay tuned.

This post was written as part of the National Health Blog Posting Month (NHBPM). Other bloggers will share their posts on this FB page.