“Why don’t you come over to my place and we can drive over together?” Julie texted.
“Sure thing! I’ll be right over!” I replied, and then jumped on my motor scooter to make the less than 10 minute drive to her house. On the way through her neighborhood, I decided to stop at 7-11 for a bottle of water. Exploring a new market in Thailand was going to be fun, but it was also sure to be hot!
Only a couple of minutes away, I hopped back on, strapped on my helmet, and took off. At the last intersection before the turn onto Julie’s street, the one where I need to go straight through, I was riding in the middle of the road. There was a guy riding a scooter just ahead of me, driving along the left-hand side of the road. Without using his indicator, and most likely without looking, he made a right-hand turn directly in front of me.
Shit! Immediately slamming on the brakes only lessened the speed of the impact. It was all a blur, but after crashing into him, my bike skidded to the ground, taking my left ankle with it. On the ground, screaming and crying, I realized my ankle was pinned underneath my scooter, the weight crushing me. Between my screaming and a steady stream of expletives, I remember shouting, “Get it off! Get it off!”
The man I crashed into, apparently uninjured, came to my rescue and lifted the bike off my ankle. With the immediate danger gone, and the intense pain setting in, I continued screaming and crying. So much was happening at once, but suddenly, a few people were standing around me, seeming to have materialized out of thin air. A Thai woman, who spoke English, crouched down beside me and held my hand. She kept reassuring me, telling me to squeeze her hand as hard as I wanted if I was hurting. Another woman was standing there, and I remember shouting, “Get my phone! Get my phone! It’s in my green bag. Call Julie. She’s my friend.” After asking me the passcode for my phone, the kind woman called Julie to say that I’d been in an accident. A Thai man, who had obviously been on a run, asked me if my head was hurting, and when I responded that it wasn’t, he removed my helmet, presumably to help me breathe better, as I was hyperventilating. Another man, an American who teaches in the high school, stopped by, too. I remember him telling me that it wasn’t that bad and could definitely be worse.
In what seemed like a few minutes, Julie appeared in her car. A whirlwind of things happened all at once. Julie got the other driver’s information, after checking on me. The lovely Thai woman who held my hand drove my scooter over to Julie’s house. I was hoisted up by someone, I can’t remember who, into the back of Julie’s car. Crying and struggling to catch my breath, I looked at my ankle for the first time. Swollen to at least twice it’s normal size, with a mix of blood and dirt in a large open wound, I began praying that it wasn’t broken. It sure felt broken.
On the way to the hospital, Julie fought the Bangkok traffic, while simultaneously trying to distract me by talking about other things. I really appreciate all that she did for me, as well as all of the strangers who stopped to help me.
More on the Thai emergency room experience in tomorrow’s slice…