Africa, Destinations

The Injury (and yes it was worth it)

January 9, 2009 • By

In my last post, I may have mentioned an injury.  Getting down Mt. Kili was a little more damaging to my body than I realized.  I was so excited that I made it to the summit and concerned with being dehydrated that I didn’t pay attention to my very sore left calf muscle.  It probably did not help that I walked another 8 hours on the injury. 

After arriving back at my hotel and taking a bath to soak the dirt off of me, I realized I was not able to stand on my left foot.  My blackberry charging—I had to sit for 2 hours before I could google what injury I might have.  It occurred to me my heel muscle felt like an accordion and I settled on it being my Achilles tendon.  I went to bed for the night hoping it was just sore.  No such luck.  It was very painful in the morning and I knew I was in trouble.  I emailed a few people who still might be up in the states and Janet Keller answered my call.  She sprung into action calling my SOS insurance company and got a doctor on the line immediately.  Janet then emailed me that I had to go to the hospital.  I started crying because I didn’t exactly think Tanzania and hospital were on my sightseeing list.  Janet insisted I talk to the “cute doctor” as she referred to him and I did.  He said I had two options: I could go to the hospital here and he would talk to the doctor or I could get on a plane and fly to Dar es Salaam.  In my head, I thought buddy if I am flying back to Dar to go to a hospital I am flying back to NYC. 

A series of wonderful things then fell into place.  My tanzanite store lady(she is Serbian so I had many questions for her) who I had talked to every morning summoned her driver who found me a taxi who would spend many hours with me.  First, JUSTICE(yes this is his name) took me to the ATM–you must have cash if you are going to the hospital here– then to the hospital and he even stayed with me like the perfect suitor (he spoke English).  While at the very archaic hospital, I witnessed all sorts of amazing things.  A 6-week old white baby getting her shots, a Chaga tribal leader being treated for malaria and the back and forth of many hard working nurses. 

The doctor saw me quickly.  It’s my understanding they help foreigners first.  He didn’t seem too excited to see me nor did he want to talk to my US doctor who made him spell his name 4 times.  I received an X-ray to make sure nothing was broken.  The X-ray machine was likely 40-years-old.  I had no radiation cover and I was fairly certain the thing didn’t even work especially since I never did see those results.  Also, picture this…to get the X-Ray, I had to walk through a pebbled outdoor walkway to a small little room with a 15-year-old curtain separating me from the switcher.  It was clean maybe not clorox clean but beggars can’t be choosers here. 

After the X-ray, I went back to the doctor who told my US doctor I likely had a torn ligament not a rupture and that I just needed rest for a week or two.  With Justice by my side, I started to cry again.  I was supposed to go on safari Friday.  Justice had all sorts of good ideas.  He told me I needed to ask my tour company to rearrange my travel for Monday and he would take me there so off we went.  Safari does not involve walking anyway so I figured with 4 days of RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), I should be able to get around by then. 

With wrapped foot and crutches, I made my way to the hotel restaurant for lunch.  When the Captain of the restaurant started talking to me about my leg, the tears began to pour AGAIN and in my barely audible speech, I told her I didn’t want to go back to the US  but that I couldn’t afford to stay at this hotel for another 5 nights and if I needed surgery I had no choice but to go home.  She cried with me.  It was this very surreal moment.  She was my second random act of kindness. 

About five minutes later, she brought the GM over to my table.  He was very kind and we negotiated a much better price – half of what I was paying.  He watched me try to maneuver around the lobby (gimpy applies here), and realized my room was too far from everything and offered to move me and showed me various rooms in the main building.   I had a really nice room too but I had to down grade to be closer to the lobby and activity.  He had the porter help me move my belongings.  This porter literally carried me on his back to my old room, helped me pack and then carried me to my new room.  Did I mention I am probably 5 inches taller and 20 lbs heavier than this guy?  It was not as if I was helpless just completely inept at using crutches and by this point my arm pits hurt more than my foot.

Finally, my day was winding down and I sat for many hours watching CNN and icing my foot.  I’ve decided I hate CNN and I prefer living in denial about the US economy and the Israel-Palestinian conflict.  I used to love the news but since I’ve been here and seen the struggles of the Tanzanian people, I somehow feel the media is likely missing some of the real news.  Anyway, I’ve spent way too much time on the Internet and I must go figure out how to eat another hotel dinner and get back to my RICE.

I’ve also stopped crying!  🙂