Friday, January 17, 2014

And then... WHAM!

Sometimes life hits you like a cyclist appearing out of nowhere. Literally.

Two hours after I arrived in Morocco on 2 January, at the start of a planned ten weeks in Marrakech, Madrid, Barcelona, Malta, Istanbul and Cairo that would have included three half marathons, I was bowled over in the street near my guesthouse and fell heavily, breaking my right arm just beneath the shoulder. Friends from Oz who now live in Marrakech were godsends, taking me to a hospital where I spent two days and two nights and had surgery to insert four wires that were supposed to hold the bone ends together while they healed. I was given a sleeve to wear to immobilise my arm, which I found to be a form of torture. I still have weeping blisters and scabs from the abrasions it caused.

For the next four days, after Rita and Bruce left on a planned holiday with their visiting son Seth, I rested at my riad. The staff helped me with bathing, washing my hair, and cutting up my food. I was in pain the whole time and didn’t leave the riad except to keep an appointment with the surgeon, with the help of riad manager Majdouline. The doctor said the wound was healing fine and I should expect to feel pain.

I wasn’t going to be able to do anything I had planned to do in Marrakech or elsewhere for at least the next couple of months, so there was nothing to be gained by staying on in Morocco and Europe, where my costs would be high. My instincts told me to get to Kuching, where I would have the personal support I needed and affordable professional follow-up health care. Rita arranged for her business partner, Abdou, to take me to Casablanca, from where I flew to Kuching via Dubai and Kuala Lumpur on flights arranged by Jacqui at Albury Travel. I was able to get right-hand window seats the whole way, and wheelchair assistance in Casablanca and Dubai. It was bearable when I stayed in the moment and didn’t scare myself by thinking too much.

My wonderful family in Kuching, Sam, Min and Sean (Sara is away doing her national service in West Malaysia), met my plane on Thursday evening,  took me to their house and looked after me for the next four days. The day after I arrived, Sam and I saw an orthopaedic specialist at Normah Medical Specialist Centre, where I’ve had a couple of wellness checkups in recent years. He said the wires weren’t strong enough to hold the bone together properly, and I went back into hospital on the Monday for a second operation, again under general anaesthetic, to insert a serious plate.

Since Tuesday night, I’ve been able to take up residence at my usual home in Kuching, the Batik Boutique Hotel. I now feel that the healing has started. I have some movement in my arm, and each day I’m able to do something new. Sam has been a wonderful help with bathing and dressing, though I’m able to do that myself as of yesterday. She has also been bringing me delicious dinners!

A lot of people are helping me in various ways. I’m relieved to be in Kuching, and I plan to stay until the end of March, then to return in May until mid-August. Maybe life has other plans in store, but I’ll deal with those as and when… In the meantime, it’s business as unusual. I’m grateful that I don’t earn my living by doing calligraphy; my handwriting using my left hand looks like a two-year-old’s. But I can use Jack the Mac OK, and my brain is still functioning.

Having to deal with my travel insurance company is payback for every nasty thought I’ve ever had. With Sean’s help, I’m halfway through completing the claim form. As I wrote that, the Wees arrived to deliver a fish pie for my dinner and to hang out in my room for a while.


  1. Hi Robyn:
    Glad to see you are now properly repaired - ie the second surgery certainly got your humerus lined up correctly so once healed your arm should be fine. The film from the first repair is very scary - the ends of the fracture were not together - if it had not been redone you would have ended up with a badly healed fracture and a shorter arm - and no doubt continuing pain.
    The half marathons can wait - get that bone knitted back properly and rehab the arm and shoulder - and if you decide to try to run in a few weeks - do not be surprised if you feel a bit unsteady on your feet. You will be holding your arm to protect it and that makes everything seem off kilter - or that was my experience.,The adventure is turning out to be different than you had designed - but it sounds like you are in a very good place now to rest, heal, and work.

  2. Mary, you've been a wonderful support, and I really value your comments. You have experienced this same trauma and know the pain and fear first-hand. I'll never again dismiss a broken arm, and especially the dominant arm, as a minor injury. For the person experiencing it, it can be life changing. Of course, that is accompanied by awareness of how much worse it could have been, and of just how amazing is our normal state of health, wellness and wholeness.