Monday, 17 August 2009

I'm H.A.P.P.Y

My sister wheeled me to the car park of terminal 5 and once we were on the road heading towards the M4 I looked at her with big puppy dog eyes. Moments later I was impersonating a beagle that had just been rescued by the A.L.F. My head was sticking out of the window with a fag in my mouth enjoying the coolness of an English summer morning, the complete lack of humidity in the air and the six hundred or so chemicals found in a full fat Marlboro

40 minutes and a few fags later we reached my sister’s house in Wokingham. Coffee, a bacon buttie and a beer followed and then it was back on the road to Buckingham, my parent’s house and the A&E department of Milton Keynes hospital.

My parents were pleased to see me (but that wouldn’t last for long) and after a coffee and a chat my mum took me to the hospital. After chatting with the lass at A&E I had an appointment for the fracture clinic on Wednesday morning. Back at the house, my feet were up, a large plate of cheese was nearby and the TV was on Dave for all those lovely reruns of Top Gear!

On Wednesday I was back at the hospital chatting with the doctor as we looked at my x-rays. Turns out that the doctors in Malaysia had missed the fact that my fibula had sheared of the ankle bone!!! The doctor told me how many screws and bits of wire would be needed to rebuild my ankle and then I was wheeled up to ward 21 to await the surgery the following morning.

The last time I stayed in a hospital was over 20 years ago (for a broken leg…same bone, same leg!) and I really wasn’t looking forward to it…but was I in for a surprise! The ward only had 6 beds in it, each of them with a remote control for raising and lowering various bits of the mattress, which was nice. The nurses and health care assistants were great, they brought me coffee!!!!

The following day I woke up in the recovery room after the surgery and for some reason they wouldn’t give me a coffee. Also someone had shaved the top of my right thigh? Back on the ward the nurse, after much pleading, produced a coffee. Damn it tasted great!

The next morning (Friday) I was discharged, with new and comfortable crutches and a bag of painkillers. I had a week of lounging around the house until I had to return for a check up and a lite weight cast at the fracture clinic.

Back at the parents house life was easy if somewhat slow, boring and slightly painful. The painkillers did the trick and after a little pondering I worked out that I hadn’t had a bowel movement for 3 days. I think that a couple of pounds of cheese on the Monday and Tuesday had blocked me up somewhat. Thankfully I had some laxative along with the painkillers and by the next day I was “with movement” which was nice!

The next Friday I was back at the fracture clinic for the post op one week check up. After the x-ray I swung into the doctor’s office to see him looking intently at my x-ray. Even I, with my limited medical training, could see that they was something not quite right! Turns out that my bones had “pinged” apart and that I would need to go under the knife again, this time with bigger screws…bugger!

Back on ward 21 I said hello once again to the nurses and settled down into the bed I had left behind last week. The surgery was booked for the following morning until I mentioned to the doctor that some puss had oozed trough the bandages. I was put on a course of anti-biotics and as this was the bank holiday weekend I would be here till the doctor came back on Tuesday.

Once again the nurses and care assistants were just great. The coffee was hot and strong and the food was surprisingly tasty. The long weekend was indeed long and only my liver was enjoying the rest!

On the Tuesday the consultant came back from his weekend off and looked at my ankle. I would be having the surgery the next day! However…the next day came around and it turns out they were busy. As I was a low priority and they were unable to guarantee a place on the table instead of spending all day “nil by mouth” only to be disappointed by the evening time they booked me in for the next day. Even before the doctor had left the ward I was pressing the call button to order breakfast!

Thursday, 13 August 2009

I'm sure i am...


Getting off the bus at the main carnival landing site I was greeted by the intriguing looks of school kids at the bus stop. This wasn’t a surprise as the carnival site was the local school.
Meeting up with the local pilots, a few of whom I had met before, we jumped into a 4x4 and headed off to the landing zone nearest the ridge and take off. Asked if I wanted to fly I replied “Nah!” All I wanted was a shower and a cold beer. A few hours later the pilots had landed and we made our way to the festival accommodation.

This turned out to be a “typical Malay village homestead experience”, so I got to sleep on the floor of a hut. As alcohol was banned all I got was a shower! The price of the weekend was only 50RM (£8.70) but the actual cost was a lot higher than that. Thanks must go to the state government and the Malaysian tourist board that had heavily subsidised it. For the money you got

Four nights accommodation
Breakfast, lunch and diner
Free transport to take off
Free recovery from landing
Free transport to and from kuala lumpur international airport

And of course the chance to win the top cash prize of nearly £600 if you came 1st In the flight endurance challenge…I wasn’t holding out any hope of winning that!

The next morning it was up early and after breakfast off to take off for 6 hours of parawaiting! The wind was coming from every direction except the one we needed to take off from. Thankfully there were several shade marquees to lounge under but it was still damn hot. It was approaching 4pm when the wind finally settled down in the right direction and people started to take off.

With about 15 people in the sky I took of and all I got was that sinking feeling! Well a 5 minute flight is better than no flight at all. The landing zone at the bottom of the ridge is a series of dirt tracks winding their way through the terraces of a newly planted palm tree plantation. The roads are in all directions so no matter which way the wind is blowing a place to land is easy to find.

I had set up a nice long approach glide following one of the tracks (in a nil wind environment) and was gently coming into land. A few metres above the ground I was drifting away from the middle of the track and out towards the edge. Weight shifting to the right with my brakes fully on I came into land with the knowledge that the landing would require several steps to run off the speed but nothing too serious or strenuous.

My right foot hit the track, my left hit the slightly softer ground on the edge of the track. I was halfway through my next stride when it came to my attention that I was unable to move my left leg (turns out it was trapped under a rock)…bugger! The right hand side of my body smacked into the dirt and gravel of the track before I tumbled ass over tit, coming to a rest on my back. I lifted up my head and looked at my left leg. Somehow the laces of the boot were facing me whilst the toes were pointing downwards to the left and my ankle bone was “resting” on the cuff of the boot pushing against the skin. “That’s going to need surgery” I said to myself.

Then the pain hit me…..

I wailed for help and then through gritted teeth kept on saying fuck, fuck, fuck me, fuck it hurts, oh fuck me it hurts, fuck it, fuck……….

The rescue team’s 4x4 turned up very quickly and the looks on all three of their faces were far from reassuring!!!!

30 minutes later I was in the A&E of the local hospital and yes the pain in my ankle was still there. X-rays followed then a bed and a decent amount of painkillers. By 20:20 the drugs had worn off and the pain returned with a vengeance. The 1st two shots of drugs really were far from effective and it took an hour of searing pain till I managed to persuade them for a 3rd hit. This time they changed the drug and it worked.

At 11pm I was wheeled into a room and they explained that the nice man standing in the corner would be manually putting my ankle back into place. After seeing the look on my face they assured me that they would give me a painkilling injection 1st…phew! The drug worked really well and my smiling euphoric face watched as the man grabbed hold of my ankle and foot, pulled then clicked my ankle back into position. Then a cast was put on and I was wheeled back to the ward, my bed and a drug induced stupor that lasted till the morning.

Come the morning came the x-rays and the doctors. The x-ray showed that I had broken my fibula (news to me!) about 5 inches below the knee and also that I had chipped a chunk of bone off my ankle that would need securing back into place with either a screw or a plate. When they started to discuss surgery times I interrupted them. “Thanks but no thanks” I said “I’m going back to England ASAP and have the surgery done there”. At 1st they were all against it but when I pointed out that I was actually travelling they relented. They had assumed that I was in fact an Ex-pat!

As I was travelling they gave me a very safe cast that came halfway up my thigh and weighed several kilos. On Saturday afternoon I was discharged and I managed to get a flight on Sunday afternoon back to England via Hong Kong.

My sister was waiting for me when I came through the arrivals gate at 05:36 Monday morning

Sunday, 9 August 2009

i know i am...

Days of lounging around in the red tomato garden cafĂ© and Debbie’s bar finally came to an end! After 4 hours sleep I was up way to early to catch the 07:30 ferry back to the mainland and the bus to Kuala Lumpur. I had 4 nights in the city and I was in town a few hours before the community shield kicked off. Chelsea won and I was happy.

I was in town to get a 60 day visa for Indonesia and after checking the location of the embassy via Google maps I was on my way on Monday morning. Turns out Google maps got the location wrong and after a long 20 minute walk to the right coordinates I arrived at the embassy.(which by the way was only a 10 minute walk from my hotel!!!!!) My way was blocked by etiquette: I was wearing shorts and not long trousers. As it turns out I don’t own a pair of long pants, so looks like I had to go shopping after all.

The next day, wearing long pants, I turned up early and applied for the visa. Forms were filled out, money paid and between 4pm and 5pm that day I would be able to pick up my passport complete with the visa!
After wishing the day away I picked up the passport and on the way back to the hotel I popped into a mall for some window shopping and A/C therapy! What a stroke of luck…I was wondering around a sports shop when I came across the holy grail of travelling shoes….Merrells!!!! As was in need for a new pair of shoes it was a joy to behold.

On Thursday morning I was back on the road heading down to the small town of Bahau a few hours south of Kuala Lumpur to take part in the international paragliding festival that was taking place over the weekend.