I was walking back to base Monday evening. It was dark already mostly because it was raining. I had just finished my last class with adults in the small fishing village of Ban Nam Khem after ten months there as the TEFL Trainer for GVI Phang Bga, Thailand. I was reflecting on my teaching, my village, and my time with the great communities. I was pleased with the decision to go to a community event a month ago where I ended up getting Introduced to the Mayor of Nam Khem, a nice and exuberant man named Bao. He had helped arrange the English class for beginners. I had tried with signs and by talking with people in November and nobody had shown up for the classes. Monday, I was super excited that six people had come for the class. Feeling satisfied but sad to leave the community, I knew it was the right time to leave. My huge white rain poncho was protecting myself, my phone, and my teaching basket from the rain. I had been offered a ride back on a motorcycle from my fellow staff member Max, as well as from a student. Neither of them had a helmet for me, it is a brief six minute walk and I wanted to collect my thoughts and process my situation.
All of a sudden, I was off my feet and impacted from behind! There was a moment I think I lost consciousness or something because all of a sudden I was on the ground and I realized I had been hit by a vehicle. I was lying with my head sideways and my skirt was saturated and wet and I saw a man’s feet coming towards sideways me then his face came in close asking repeatedly “Are you okay? Sorry, sorry.” I was stunned and couldn’t breathe. The wind had left me like a snot rocket! I was helped up and the man helped me over to a table and chairs. I didn’t know where I was but found my phone and knew to call base for help. I saw a motorcycle and sidecar called a “samlore” in Thai and told my boss Dora I had been hit by a motorcycle and that I was by the sign for the Blue and Orange boats as it was the only thing I could comprehend seeing. (Later, I realized I was at the house of the lovely folks who have washing machines and do the laundry for our volunteers and who had just done my last load in the village as the usual laundrette was closed for a few days). I concentrated on trying to breathe and figuring out where my body hurt. I could see a thin scraped line running horizontally on the back of my right calf. My left shoulder hurt like it had been ripped from the socket and my left elbow was in pain. Now, if you know me, you know how Bad I am at dealing with pain and blood! I tend to pass out and have a seizure when I do if presented with mine or somebody else’s major injury. Hell, I even have been known to pass out in first aid courses watching videos (why they always pass me anyhow, I’ll never know!). So…. I was too scared to look at my elbow. Dora arrived along with Max. Dora patched me up and kept me calm. Bob, a fabulous Thai man who runs the most amazing restaurant, was driving by on his motorcycle before Dora and Max came and I remember feebly pointing and stating “oh! It’s Bob.” He came back and helped with some translation between the man who hit me, the laundry family who I ended up lying down both in front of their house and then when the rain was too much, inside their house. But lying was too painful, so I ended up sitting. My good friend Carlee came to provide comfort and support and Max provided a lot of support as well. What we realized later was Bob tried to explain to us that Kim, who had hit me, had gone home to trade his samlore for a car to take me to the hospital. Dora called the Thailand English speaking Emergency Operators at 1669, but the communication was difficult though an improvement over them hanging up when Katie was bit by a vicious red centipede the week prior. Kim came back with his truck and several apologies. He drove us to the hospital, passing the ambulance on the way.
At the hospital I was put on a stretcher and Dora went to admitting. It was odd because I have been so many times to the Takuapa hospital, but had always been the one checking myself in or others. Broke Dora into the ways of the hospital. The Fantastic Doctor who had treated Katie was on duty again. I had tried to joke with him in the past and it didn’t go far as he took everything literally. I tried again by referring to Dr Dora who had bandaged me up. He was impressed with her dressings and thought perhaps we had gone to a clinic before the hospital! Cheers, Dr. Dora. He did a thorough check of my whole body for broken bones and shoulder dislocations!!! A clean slate. He cleaned and redressed my right calf and left arm, and suggested light activity for the next one to two weeks. Kim, bless him, paid for the bills and the medication I received – muscle relaxants and pain killers plus a analegic ointment. I had to walk for the Doctor before being released. While it was really more of a limpy hobble, I did it and off they went.
On the way back, Kim and I introduced ourselves. What a lovely man. He owns a restaurant called Yim Yim in Ban Muang, and comes in daily to buy fish to make fish balls for his restaurant. Before the tsunami he lived in Nam Khem but after he moved inland to Ban Muang. I think he must have apologized about eight hundred times. I thanked him profusely and said it was was an accident.
I got home and Carlee and Dora had made me a bit of dinner which I ate a little so I could take the medication. I tried to get comfortable and eventually fell asleep. Woke up at four am when the medications had worn off but my body was completely exhausted and I ended up falling back asleep.
The next day I was in pain but got up to walk around, though spent most of my time in bed. I felt better by afternoon and managed to do some packing as I was meant to leave the village the next day. Mom’s advice via FaceTime was to take the pills and pack when they were at the height of their effect. Good plan. Kim came by to make sure I was okay and brought gifts of fruit and juice. So kind! I thanked him and appreciated it so much.
Wednesday I woke up in huge amounts of pain. Muscle soreness, aching shoulder, back and arm. The leg was a little better and I could start to walk almost normally. It was the day both Carlee and I were leaving so I took pills again and did my best to pack. We left with so much stuff, and serendipitously I actually saw Kim’s restaurant as we were passing through Ban Muang. Had never seen it before, and had been looking down and happened to look up and out the window at the perfect time. We took a selfie and I took a photo of the samlore for the blog and memory’s sake.
It is now Friday and I am starting to feel much better. The scabbing is coming in and the pain is much less. Really grateful to Bob, Max and Dora for helping me out that night. The care at the hospital and Kim’s kindness and attentiveness. And, especially to Carlee for caring for me until she left the country!!!
Well, as Max told me, I left Ban Nam Khem with a bang!