One day I might laugh about all the crazy shit that happened this year. Right now though, I’m in quite a bit of pain and typing with one hand and I’m not f*ckn laughing.
Is it karma? Magnetic forces? Or just good ol’ bad luck?
Whatever it is, I’m really quite over it, thanks.
I’ve been warring with the motorbikes all year. Motorbike drivers in Ho Chi Minh are little more than sheep on crack. Where one goes, they all go. A pedestrian crossing is just some funny stripes on the road, a red light is purely decorative. A person on the footpath is invisible until they leave a dent in your motorbike.
To be fair, this particular sheep didn’t see me. A taxi had stopped in front of the crossing and was waving me on. I was running back from the gym. The light was red; I crossed the crossing, and – smack.
You know how they teach you in primary school not to move an injured person? They don’t teach that in Vietnam. The people who crowded around as I howled in the middle of the road were all helpful grabbiness, trying to yank me in different directions. I screamed at them not to f*cking touch me and tried to comprehend why the f*ck I was sitting on a road with a funky bend in my wrist.
Oddly, my first thought was “At least I’ve already been to the gym today.”
They did force me up eventually (“madam you have to get off road!”) and asked if I wanted to go to the hospital. Yes, I want to go to the hospital! Look at my f*cking arm!
Ambulances being what they are (or aren’t) in Vietnam, I was maneuvered (gingerly) into a taxi. By then my head was very much somewhere else and I wasn’t sure whether I was about to pass out, vomit or soil myself.
My assailant graciously plonked herself beside me in the taxi and proceeded to giggle and gabble the entire way to the hospital. “You hurt?” she said, maybe oh fifty times, while I squeezed my eyes into oblivion and clutched my wonky wrist. Which hurt, by the way.
She took me to a partly open-air clinic with tin seats and a thrilled bunch of patients outside. They told me to sit down. The patients all swiveled in their chairs and glued their eyes on the moaning smelly foreigner and talked excitedly. The nurses looked bored. They waved me towards a room full of near-dead people lying on stretchers scattered around. One nurse eventually brought out a set of splints and looked vaguely in the direction of my arm. At that point I told them yeah nah, take me to an international hospital, please.
Oh, but very far! pleaded the woman who’d put me here.
Now, I said.
Turned out the nearest international hospital was right next door. They put me in a child size wheelchair and bumped me over cobblestones and rutted concrete to the front door. Where another thirty delighted patients looked up from their smartphones to stare at my whinging form.
Just to add to the fun, I had no cellphone, no money, no ID. I had nobody to contact because I don’t know many – any – folk here besides my dentist and the hosts of my Airbnb. Whose numbers, obviously, I hadn’t committed to memory. I was just a sweaty bundle of pain with nothing more than a set of keys.
They x-rayed my arm. The doctor was a doofus who glanced me over and made his prognosis with his office door wide open so the entire clinic got their fill of my case. I was then dumped in a room with a few beds and told to wait.
Someone stuck me with a needle (“painkiller, madam”).
After two hours of huddling on the bed and being thoroughly ignored, I got mad and said I’d leave. I stunk, I hurt, I was cold and I was dirty, and also starving because it was 12pm and I hadn’t eaten since the night before. Nurses got excited at my ranting and suddenly a bunch of them came at me with needles and a drip. Which, a blissful half hour later, I realized contained a bit more than painkiller. I’d like to get me some more of that stuff.
Finally, finally, they dragged me off somewhere else and fixed my arm to a pole so that it would “reposition”. Whatever. I was blissed out on that stuff in the IV bag.
Then I got this almighty Hammer Boy cast. Right up past the elbow. Why this is necessary when the break is supposedly my wrist, I don’t know. But I can’t type and I can’t tie my hair back and I’ve already got soup on it, so the next six-to-eight weeks are looking splendid.
So that was my Saturday. Disaster number #562. And if my hip and back didn’t hurt like they’ve been ground into mince, I might be feeling better about the arm. But I’m just pissed off.
Sorry Vietnam, but you get the finger.