Bleeding in Bali

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In many of the more relaxed civilizations on the Outer Eastern Rim of the Galaxy, the Hitchhiker’s Guide has already supplanted the great Encyclopaedia Galactica as the standard repository of all knowledge and wisdom, for though it has many omissions and contains much that is apocryphal, or at least wildly inaccurate, it scores over the older, more pedestrian work in two important respects.
First, it is slightly cheaper; and secondly it has the words DON’T PANIC inscribed in large friendly letters on its cover.

Douglas Adams – Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

“Ok, first of all, don’t freak out”. That’s what I kept telling myself, but it goes for you too. Let me say up front that I am OK, for the most part. Had a bit of an accident last night though. You see, Ubud has terrible sidewalks. Seriously, the worst I have seen in my travels. They are uneven, missing slabs, and poorly lit, if they are lit at all. So I was walking back to the home-stay after dark yesterday, avoiding those sidewalks and sticking to the side of the road for the most part. However, a car got a bit close and honked at me, so I stepped out of the road and up on the curb to get out of the way. I had walked about 20 feet when I stopped walking and started falling. In the dark, I never even saw the hole. No signs, no ropes, just a pit where sidewalk should have been. A Punji trap couldn’t have done a better job. Things are a bit fuzzy at this point, but I don’t think I even hit bottom. My hips and backpack had served to wedge me in. So after unleashing a torrent of profanity directed at Ubud, its infrastructure and maintenance workers, I hauled myself up and out, badly shaken and doubled over in pain. I hadn’t broken anything, but in the dark, that was as much as I knew. Once I got to light, I saw blood, my blood, quite a bit of it, running down my right leg and into my sandal. Shit. My leg is opened up and I’m at least a mile from the home-stay, and that’s if I remember how to get back which, in my state of mind, was not a sure thing. Well, things weren’t getting any better just standing there, so off I limped into the night.

It was a long, slow walk. I didn’t have to look down at my leg. I got all the information I needed from the faces of the people that I passed. I missed a turn and added about a half mile to the route, but that took me past the shop where I had dropped off my laundry the day before, so I was able to stop in and pick that up (yeah, yeah, I know, but it was on my to-do list:-) Finally made it back to my room, grabbed my med kit and headed to the tub. After cleaning things up (does blood swirling down the drain remind anyone else of the shower scene in “Psycho”?), I knew this was beyond my little med kit. I had one scrape on my hip and a worse one on my leg, but what worried me was the wound below that. It went deep and obviously needed medical attention. Double shit. I wish I could say that I dug out my sewing kit and stitched myself up. That would be totally ninja. But no, instead I called my insurance company and got transferred around, ultimately ending up in their voice-mail system. Not ninja at all. OK, next option. I talked to the family (Augus and his wife, Priya) that runs the home-stay. They were much more responsive than my insurance company, but not exactly trained to handle this kind of thing. Priya came at me with a bunch of bandages and a bottle of isopropyl alcohol. I had to stop her right there. Bless her heart, she wanted to help (and maybe get me to stop bleeding on her floor), but there was no way I was letting her near my leg with that bottle. Then they said something about a clinic. I was on board with that, so I hobbled out to the street to wait while Augus got his car. Well, I thought it was going to be a car. Turns out, it was a scooter. I just had to smile as I climbed on board. That smile didn’t last long though. Ever had an open wound exposed to the wind? You just grit your teeth and hold on.

The clinic was about 15 minutes away, and the first thing I saw when we walked in was the gecko scampering up the wall. Nice. Fortunately, there was no one else in the waiting room, so I was seen right away by two amiable young Indonesian men whose English was almost good enough to get the job done.
They asked a few questions (what happened, when, etc) then they started cleaning out the wounds to get a better look. Notice I didn’t say “First, they applied anesthetic”. I don’t know, maybe people are just a lot tougher in this part of the world, but holy crap, that hurt! Eventually, they noticed that I was writhing in pain and one said “I get anesthetic”. Awesome idea. Once things were numbed up, they proceeded to give me three stitches (the first stitches I’ve had in my life, by the way.) My curiosity got the best of me and I tried watching, but I started feeling woozy and decided that maybe I should lie back and wait for world to come back into focus instead. After applying the dressing, we headed back up front where they gave me an antibiotics and painkillers and I paid the bill. Total charge – about $120 USD. Augus drove me back to the home-stay (a much more enjoyable ride now that I wasn’t bleeding directly onto the street), I popped an antibiotic, then went out in search of dinner. It had been a long night and I was hungry. At Mojo’s, I found my own version of a pain killer – tacos and a large cold Bintang. Just what the doctor ordered.

Postscript – I went back to the scene of the crime this morning, just to see what I had (literally) gotten myself into. As you can see, it really is a huge hole in the sidewalk and, as if that wasn’t bad enough, it’s camouflaged by vegetation! Unbelievable. And yes, that is rusty metal down there. Triple shit. Time to call Dr. Anderson and verify that my tetanus booster is up to date…

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