I just wanted to write something to update anyone that may care on me and the bike accident that I was involved in on Saturday Afternoon.
As some of you may or may not have noticed, I always seem to injure myself just before any Peace Corps conference of any type. Well, with Group 32’s COS conference set to occur in two weeks; it appears I was due for my traditional injury.
On Saturday, after I finished my chores of doing my laundry, sweeping and moping the house, and finishing my grading for the week, I had a bit of free time on my hands. It was mid afternoon, so I decided to go on a nice, long bike ride. My goal was to go 20 kilometres within an hour, then turn around and complete a 40 kilometre bike ride while also getting to listen to two hour-long This American Life episodes.
I made it to the 20-kilo sign right on time, and turned around. Though this road is brand new, it is getting some large repairs. To repair the roads they cut the pavement with a saw, and scoop out everything down to a depth of around two to two and a half feet. Generally they only do half of a lane for about a hundred meters, leaving the other half intact. I have found I like to ride on that half of the road, mostly because it is sheltered from the traffic by hazard cones. Unfortunately on this section of road they inexplicably broke with their methodology and cut out a 3 foot by 3 foot segment in the other half of the lane that I was in.
I was going fairly fast as I was going up a hill and I didn’t want to lose momentum when I saw the hole just in front of me. I slammed on the bikes breaks, and the bike stopped just short of the hole. Unfortunately I did not stop, and flipped over the handlebars into the hole. Thankfully I was wearing my helmet, but in the fall I curled my head towards the left to avoid running head-first into the other side of the perfectly square hole in the pavement. This caused me to cut behind my right ear, right part of my face, right shoulder, and right forearm, as this is what took the brunt of the fall.
It took a minute for me to get up, and when I did, I was slow for sure. I wondered how long it would be before a car came by, as the road is still fairly untraveled. Thankfully one of my students drove by with her father in their yellow truck filled with people in the back.
Though there were still stars circling my head, as soon as the truck stopped I distinctly remember an older woman with a shocked look on her face jumping up to her feet with such force that one of her breasts became exposed. Normally I would find the humour in this (as I did later), but I was in such pain and shock that I barely noticed. I prefer to think that I had become so handsome in a rugged, blood-smeared, “get to the chopper!” sort of way that she couldn’t help herself. That makes me feel somewhat better.
I was taken to the clinic in my village, which is really right next to my school. The nurse was called in, the ambulance was called, and the teachers who had not left town for the weekend were alerted and came to sit with me. The nurse did what he could to clean me up, and gave me something for the pain. Four hours later (and after a lot of effort from Ms. Betty, my principal who was already in Tsumeb, and a long, long story) the ambulance arrived. I was taken to the town hospital, which is 60 kilometres to the south.
Ms. Betty, Daniel (one of my other students), and Kelly (the Peace Corps volunteer who lives at the hospital) were waiting for me. The nurse checked me out, and they took me to a room. They cleaned my wound some more with what felt like sandpaper, gave me the most minimal amount of local anaesthetic ever, and began to give me five stitches behind my right ear and one above my right cheek-bone. The whole time I had a death-grip on the hospital mattress due to the aforementioned lack of anaesthetic.
The next morning I had three x-rays taken of my skull to make sure I had not broken any bones in my face.
Now I am still beaten and bruised and very sore, but I think I am recovering nicely. I have a wonderfully technicolor black eye, and I am wearing a bandana around my head to cover the head wrap holding the gauze in place behind my ear. I have also single-handedly given the gauze and bandaid companies a delightful start to their third quarter earnings. I have told my students that I got into a fight with a lion, which they all find hysterical, and if I can make it to school to teach them every day looking like this then they can make it when it’s (insert whatever excuse here).
I don’t know if there is an award given to the volunteer who has gotten the most stitches, or even the most injured during peace corps service in Namibia, but I dare say I should probably win it. If it doesn’t exist, it probably should, and it should be named something like The Golden Helmet.