The last week or so has changed a whole lot of things. The short story is that I fell, broke my arm, had surgery, and will spend 6 weeks recovering in Pretoria. If you don’t want any details, you can stop reading here. If you want more info, read on. I will slowly but surely manage to type out the story!
Last Thursday, I was working at the food security project, and we happened to be harvesting tomatoes. Towards the end of the day, we were separating out the last few tomatoes to take to the market the following day. I had my hands full of tomatoes and was walking towards a pickup truck to put them in the back. I tripped, and my right arm flew up, catching on the side of the truck. I face planted into the tire, and the rest of my body was against the ground. I immediately knew something was wrong, as my arm HURT at the shoulder. I flipped onto my back to figure out what was wrong, and my arm just sort of flopped to the side. I knew then that something was seriously wrong. I waited a bit to see if the pain subsided, then called my PCMO to see where he wanted to me to go. He directed me to the Tzaneen private hospital, and after a few more calls, a ride to town was arranged.
The ride was horrible. My arm hurt badly, and a few kilometers on a dirt road, then the rest driving very fast down a tarred road with potholes meant I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t get comfortable, but at least the ride was only about half an hour.
I arrived at the hospital, and after a bit of confusion, managed to sort everything out with the PC paperwork that was faxed in. Then rushed me into a room and tried to make me comfortable, and later sent me off to X-ray. At this point, I thought I had dislocated my shoulder, so when the technician said “it” was broken, I was pretty concerned. It wasn’t a simple fractured wrist….it turned out I had essentially snapped the humorous in half right near the head of the shoulder. It was a clear break, but serious.
The doctor quickly mentioned surgery, which freaked me out a bit because I hadn’t had a chance to discuss anything with the PCMO since I first called him. I told the doctor I preferred the non-surgical option, so he rigged me up in a sling and wheeled me off to a room to spend the night. I called the PCMO, and he was very surprised the doctor wanted to do surgery. He set a whole bunch of things in motion, including calling the other PCMO, the medevac regional doctor, the country director, a surgeon in Pretoria, and PC in Washington DC.
I don’t remember much about the first night, so I assume I was seriously drugged up. I do remember the sling being very painful, and thinking that surgery was definitely in the cards-I couldn’t stand six weeks in that sling, waiting for the bone to heal naturally.
My PCMO came up the next morning, and after talking with my doctor and a doctor in Pretoria, decided to move me to Pretoria for the surgery. The trip to town was very unpleasant, compounded by the fact that the AC wasn’t working in the car and it was in the 90s. I was happy to be in a car with diplomatic plates (which can’t be stopped by the police), as the normally 4.5-5 hour drive took only 3.5 hours. I made it to the hospital in Pretoria a little after 4pm, and after checking in, went straight into surgery. I woke up later in pain, of course, but feeling much better than I had before.
I’ll write more about my three remaining days in the hospital later, and what has happened since. Now I’m on medical hold in Pretoria for 6 weeks. PCSA doesn’t really do medevacs, since we are a medevac country, but that’s essentially what I am. I’ve got 45 day (6 weeks) to recover and get back to site, which the doctor is confident will happen. If not, well….theoretically I could be medsepped, but the doctor is confident I’ll recover enough to return to site.
For now, I’m on a medical holiday in Pretoria. I’m sure I’ll be bored out of my mind soon enough, but with a bunch of PCVs here now, I’m enjoying it.