Motorbikes in Thailand
A couple of years ago I spent an hour bouncing up and down in the back of a pick-up truck (aka ambulance) with two broken ribs, after having turned a corner with the bike’s stand down. Not fun at the time, but looking back the story is quite amusing. When I got to hospital the doctor emptied a large syringe of something into me and let my friends drive me home. I felt splendid and told them “no, don’t bother staying to look after me, it’s just a scratch, I’ll see you after I get back from rock-climbing tomorrow”.
The next morning I attempted to get up but found myself completely unable to move, pinned to the bed by the excruciating pain of moving so much as a millimetre. I realised that I wasn’t even able to climb out of bed, let alone up Railay rock-faces, as I’d insisted the previous night that I was going to do. Even worse, I badly needed to pee and, as I was living alone in a remote patch of jungle, nobody would hear me if I called for help. “Thank God for mobile phones” I thought, reaching for my Nokia, which to my consternation I then found was a couple of feet out of reach.
“Hmmm, not good, not at all good” I thought, “it looks like I’m about to wet my bed, how embarrassing is that?”. I lay there doing my best to avoid the inevitable until, with huge relief, I heard my friend Mai walk in the front door. She hadn’t believed me when I had said I was OK the previous night and had come to check up on me. Grabbing me under the shoulders, she pulled me out of bed, from which position I was thankfully able to make it to the loo, unassisted but no doubt looking completely ridiculous, hobbling along with my knees pressed together to keep the waterworks closed.
A week later the hospital doctor pinned up an x-ray of my back and then peered at it intently for a worrying-long while.
“Oooo”, he said, pointing out something on the x-ray to his nurse.
“Oooo”, she said.
Then they showed me the x-ray. I could see the source of the oooo's immediately, but I didn’t say “oooo”, too, as I didn’t have the detachment of their impersonal interest - this was my back we were looking at, not theirs. “Eeuuuu, what’s that?” I said instead, pointing at a bit of bone that had broken off my spine. “No wonder my back hurts”.
“No”, the doctor explained, “that’s not the problem, that injury happened years ago, I can tell because the gap between the bone fragment and your spine has calcified. Here’s the problem”, he said, pointing at my two broken ribs.
“Oooo” I said, relief flooding through me at not having broken my back.
On the way home, the cause of the broken spine fragment dawned on me. I had been in a Stockholm nightclub, in my long-ago foolish youth, when my friend Eric had jumped up onto one of the small, square podiums in the middle of the dance-floor and challenged me to a duel of ‘Swedish bum-barging’. Rashly I accepted and we took our positions facing outwards, standing on opposite corners of the podium. He then tried to knock me off the podium with his backside, while I tried to do the same to him. At the time I was a skinny youth, so he won and sent me flying off the podium, landing on my back on its corner. I badly hurt my back and afterwards couldn’t laugh or cough for a month without huge pain.
I'd lament the follies of youth, but I'm 48 now - and still haven't learnt much sense.
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