Monday, May 30, 2005

Wipe out

2 days ago I went for a mountain-bike tour through the hills and countryside around San Cristobal. It was nice to see a whole different view of life here away from busy markets and noisy streets. However, about and hour into the ride I had a spectacular wipe out going down a steep, narrow bit of trail. After the dust settled it became apparent to me that in addition to smacking my head and various cuts and scrapes I had done something quite serious to both my arms. They started to swell up just below the elbow and I had no strength to hold any weight in either arm. It was clear to me that I couldn't ride any further and I suspected that I had broken both arms.

Fortunately, the leader of our little group had a cell-phone and was able to call his partner to come pick me up in a car, and I spent the rest of the afternoon, with her help, visiting various medical offices in San Cristobal getting x-rays and being checked out by a doctor (total cost $90). The doctor told me that there was no fracture in either arm, but that the tendons were torn, so I am on a regimen of icing both arms and anti-inflammatory medication.

Once I was back at the hostal on my own, my predicament started to sink in - I couldn't move either arm above chest height, nor could I lift more than about a cup of water. I managed to get my t-shirt off after about 15 minutes of bending over and wriggling and and succeeded in showering and putting on some clean clothes but I wasnt sure if I was going to be able to eat anything on my own though. I could only lie on my back in bed and even then I couldnt pull the covers up any higher than chest height.

Things have been slowly improving since then. The first night I was able to get my hand close enough to my mouth that I could eat the first half of a slice of pizza and I drank a beer using a straw. The second day I was able to somewhat awkardly feed myself yogurt and granola with a spoon and to weakly brush my teeth. This morning I could scratch my head for the first time and drink from a mug of coffee without looking too peculiar and I'm hoping to eat a meal with a knife and fork by this evening.

My trip down to Guatmala is on hold for another day or two but I hope to still squeeze it in.


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike,

This is Jeff Haran. Not sure if you remember me, but I used to work at 2Wire. Bummer about the bike accident. Take it easy and though you seem to have had a good experience with the local medical establishment, do be wary. A friend of mine and his wife went to Mexico a few years back. She got sick and when they went to the hotel recommended doctor, he kept telling them he needed to do a bone marrow sample to diagnose her problem. They were dubious and went to another doctor who immediately diagnosed her problem as either typhoid or typhus (I always get those two confused), gave her some antibiotics and sent them on their way. She recovered fine. Turns out the bone marrow thing is a common scam. They suck out a bunch of bone marrow and sell it for use in transplants. Sick people having their marrow harvested for other sick people. Scary!

Your comment about the steep steps at the temple and how in the US you'd never get close to them brought back memories. I had the exact same impression when my wife and I visited Uxmal in Yucatan about 20 years ago. Climbing up them I had the distinct impression that if I tripped I would not stop bouncing off of the sharp stone steps until I hit the dirt below. Good to see that globalization hasn't yet translated into a spread of US inspired cover-your-arsism to these third world historical sites.

Tuesday, May 31, 2005 5:45:26 PM  
Anonymous said...

Oh Michael,you poor thing - I hadn't checked in on your progress for a week or so then I saw Suzanne in the weekend and she mentioned your accident. Hope you are feeling ok and managing to look after yourself, as you know I have tons of empathy for incapacitating injuries, and it is the little things that really get to you, although I was very happy to see that you still managed to drink a beer. Talk to you soon!!

Wednesday, June 08, 2005 4:46:47 PM  

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