My top, take home PC story, so far…
The day I got hit by a motorbike. The morning of the accident is still very clear in my head. So, what happened? I arrived in front of my school by bike and merged into the middle of the road, stopped, and waited to cross. It’s pretty common for drivers to switch into the lane of oncoming traffic in order to pass people and right when it was safe to cross I began to pedal over just as I’m pretty sure a guy on his motorbike decided to swing around and pass me. Needless to say his timing was a little off. Thankful ly I had a quick reaction. I remember every single position from that 5 second hit exactly as if it had been in slow motion. I remember as I stumbled to my feet and realized I was still in the middle of the road. I felt for two legs, good, ran across. Checked again—two arms, hands, no trace of blood, spotted someone grabbing my bag and looked for my bike that was somehow a good 3 feet away. I searched for the person on their motorbike. He appeared to be in one piece but was still in the middle of the road completely shell-shocked. I waved him over turned to see that the incident had attracted a crowd. He rolled over his motorbike with a now shattered headlight (I actually remember smashing that in right before I flew off my bike), and as he opened his mouth to apologize that’s when I saw the blood. I said I was in one piece and not injured, however, he had broken some teeth and he needed to get to the rumah sakit immediately. We cleared out not wanting to attract the poilisi—sounds sketchy, just wasn’t necessary to get them involved. Then when I finally seemed to take my first deep breath I looked up to a mob of students who ran towards me… time to face the real drama…
There was lots of crying. I hadn’t shed a tear and tried to assure the students that I had hardly received a scratch, not super convincing with the loss of color to my face and shaky hands. A few moments later, some teachers and I decided to head to the hospital to get a quick X-ray. The hospital was quite the scene. I wasn’t sure who was a doctor and who was a nurse. Patients were just all over the place. It seemed unorganized, for instance my teachers were opening doors and escorting me around on the gurney. Other than the fact that it was obviously not very clean, I have to admit it was pretty funny. After the X-ray, some unidentifiable man who didn’t bother introducing himself said that I should start fasting and prepare for surgery…umm, WHAT! I stumbled to contact my PCMO (PC Doctor) and he directed me to come to Surabaya. I was lucky because there happened to be a PC staff member and car passing through the city I was in. Once I arrived in Surabaya, my PCMO checked me over and scheduled an appointment to meet with an orthopedic specialist for that same evening. We reviewed the options and again it was suggested that surgery was the best and safest option. I finally peed that evening at 10pm, 13 hours after the accident.
My report had to be sent to Washington, D.C., to be reviewed. They would give the go ahead as to whether I would receive the operation and where. The following day we heard back and they said I would be sent to Bangkok, Thailand as a MedEvac. This was a steady flow of information that I had a difficult time processing at first. It was hard to get excited to travel when all I could think about was getting surgery. Also how was I going to get back to site to retrieve my Passport? It was just my luck AGAIN, that another car and staff member happened to be passing my site to collect my things.
Note to self: always have an emergency bag packed—and if you aren’t going to do that, because I know I sure wouldn’t have prior to this event, just make sure your passport, a pair of undergarments and toothbrush is in an easily retrievable location.
With just those things, change of clothes, X-ray, and Thai travel/culture information packet, I was on my way to Bangkok. At my first visit the doctor examined the piece of wood strapped to my arm and said that it looked like a method practiced 200 years ago. He gently cast my arm (peach color) and gave me a sling, which helped immensely to relieve the pain. After a few days there I felt a tad more relaxed about the surgical procedure, but I still couldn’t believe I got hit by a motorbike. I guess in the back of my mind I’ve been prepared for something like this being that the number one death in Indonesia is caused my motorbike accidents.
Prior to surgery I fasted for 8 hours. I was given this super amazing hospital room all to myself that overlooked the city. The anesthesiologist reviewed the process to me which made me most nervous because she hadn’t seemed to clearly communicate with my surgeon. I discussed with the surgeon that I would not go under but have my arm numbed for 4 hours. She didn’t speak much English and didn’t seem to understand that I didn’t want the anesthesia and I freaked out a little bit more than I probably should have, and not that I was expected this experience to be enjoyable, I had a hard time calming down. I didn’t get to see the actual surgery because there were sheets up blocking the view. They took my blood pressure the entire time, which was very uncomfortable. But those i guess were just minor hiccups.
I woke up to other PC volunteers. They had met me back in my hospital room as I slowly came to after what felt like a really bad hangover. The presence of other PCVs was by far the best part of the trip. I was a little resistant at first, but that didn’t last long after I asked Carol (PCVAlbania) to help me with clasp my bra. We all got pretty close and were very supportive.
Bangkok is a mixed up culture scene. I’m not sure what it wants to be. I do know that all walks of life visit and lots decide to stay. It’s very accepting and no one is looked at as strange or different because not one thing is labelled as normal there. Also transportation is great and there was lots of shopping, of course.
And finally I am back at site. I really love this village. Anytime I leave site and then come back I always feel that I view my area more clearly. I see things I had never noticed before or seem to understand a certain person a little bit better. I did however forgot how much Ibus grab you up. I have been really cautious and trying my best to keep at my own physical therapy to make my arm strong again. My neighbor insisted that I use his washer machine until I feel comfortable enough to wash my clothes my hand. And the kids in the village constantly ask to see my scar.
I’ve somewhat lost my appetite for Indonesian food, but not for Indonesia. I’m sure it will come back once I get hungry enough or forget how delicious the food is back in Bangkok.