Welcome to my first attempt at a blog! I figured now is as good a time as any, having moved halfway around the world to Hubli. While I didn't know anyone on day one, I've since met many wonderful people, both those who have come from out of the country as I have as well as those who are native to India and have been teaching me a lot.

The plan is to update the blog somewhat regularly so that none of the posts get too lengthy (which is the case with the first several, as they were originally mass emails). We'll see how well I do at keeping up. Miss you guys!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the aftermath

I never met the guy who hit me.  Apparently, the guy’s younger brother showed up at our apartment; Lesley answered the door, and furious about what had happened to me, told him to scoot.  Never saw the guy, his brother or his friends again.

Without going into too much detail, yes, I could squat to use the Indian squatter, and yes, it was not easy and pretty darn uncomfortable.  ☺

Jaishree in particular was very adamant about ensuring that I was as properly cared for as possible, so between Laxmi and Shailendra, I had a taxi ready to pick me up every morning for work and drop me back home every afternoon.  Laxmi took me to appointment to appointment and helped me locate some solid crutches since my first ones were poop (and now even my PT in the US is impressed).

The Deshpandes called and emailed me multiple times to ensure I was doing okay and offered several times to fly me home early if I felt that were the best course of action.  At first it didn’t seem necessary, but after a long deliberation, I finally caved (and now I’m glad I did).

Once home, getting my cast off was an ordeal, and when I finally saw a doctor here in Cincinnati, he was NOT impressed.  Of course, neither was I – my muscle on the left leg had dwindled down to next to nothing, making even walking an impossibility.  If Kraemer hadn’t prepared me for what I was going to see, I might have cried.  Picking up my leg and watching the skin slide off was so drastic that it was almost comical – almost.

Now several weeks into PT, I’ve graduated to no leg brace and no crutches for easy terrain (i.e. my living room), but I’m still working on those steps…

the extent

After the rickshaw, the next thing that comes to mind is arriving in the nearest (and best Hubli) hospital’s ER.  Ew.  It wasn’t as bad as you might be imagining, but it didn’t appear clean, either, and the fact that a dead man was rolled into the room while I was there certainly didn’t do much to lift my spirits.  There were three beds in one small room, each bed a faded mustard brown and coated with dried blood.  Several nurses speaking Kannada skittered in and out.

What DID lift my spirits, though, was that the nice Sankalp employee who had picked me off the ground in the first place stayed with me and asked me if there was anyone he’d like me to call, pretty much as I simultaneously asked him to grab my phone and find Kraemer.  Chinnababu had immediately called Naveen, my supervisor, and then headed into work to take over my teaching duties, since, in my half-conscious, very confused state, I’d told him I didn’t think I’d make it in to teach today (though knowing Chinnababu, he’d figured that out long before I had and already had everything under control).

Naveen showed up in seconds, along with Shailendra, Laxmi and Golden (I hope I’m not forgetting anyone!) – someone, lucky for me, had also picked up Kraemer on the way.  My coworkers are AWESOME.  Since that day, anyone who didn’t show up at the hospital pretty much showed up at my house, bearing sweets and ice cream – they know I can’t resist, even when I can’t move a muscle to burn those calories!

Friends of the guy who’d flattened me were also there, begging my coworkers not to file a complaint, promising to pay for anything we wanted them to. 

The doctor, who was NOT amused with my predicament, wiped my face clean of the blood and stuck a needle through my skin to sew up the cut next to my eye.  Can’t say he was particularly careful.  Next I headed to the x-ray machine, where they rolled me to my side and I was quite certain something was not right.  Not right at all.  But even so, the x-ray was apparently clean – the doc took a quick look and said I was good to go.  Go easy, get some rest.

Ummmm, no.  About a week later, once I felt comfortable leaving the house, I visited a specialist.  Genius that I am, I left the x-rays at home, but the new doctor felt around my knee, told me I had a damaged ligament and that I was good to go.  He advised that if I weren’t feeling better in three days to come back, but otherwise, he’d see me again in a week (so I had no qualms about still hosting and hobbling around at our St. Paddy's Day party three days later).

Of course, I’m paranoid, so everyone assured me I was doing better.  A week later, unfortunately, it turned out that that wasn’t the case.  This time I brought x-rays.  Alarmed by what he saw, the doctor explained the severity of the fracture (yup, it was broken – darn ER doc!) I’d incurred and fervently requested that I literally hop out of his and back to the taxi; according to him, less than a millimeter more of displacement would put me in the surgery category.  I hopped. 

And that would be how I ended up with a ginormous, pink synthetic cast on my leg, toes to the top of my thigh.  Possibly the largest cast I’ve seen on anyone ever.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Going Out with a Bang: The Accident

Only a very few of my experiences in India do I wish I’d never had. Getting hit by a motorcycle is definitely one of them.

Now, it isn’t really all bad.  First of all, my injuries could have been much, much worse – it’s not necessary to speculate, so I won’t.  But all the doctors I’ve talked to (and there have been many) could not seem to keep themselves from telling me how very lucky I’d been.  Second, I wasn’t left on the street to fend for myself; instead, the kind face of India showed itself once again, and I was taken directly to the hospital, which happened to be about a block down the same road.  And third, I had an amazing crew attending to my every need.

So here’s the story….
I’d been sick for weeks, and I had finally gotten in my first morning run in what seemed like
 decades.  After breakfast, I started my 20-minute walk to work – not bad and pretty much my only option, given that I don’t own a bike, motorcycle, rickshaw or car – though I admit I might have been a bit distracted: I would be teaching the Fellows that morning, and on those walks to work I’m always running through the key points I definitely want to make sure I hit.

I had just passed a cane juice vendor who I passed every morning, but this time he asked me my name, which took me a little bit off guard.  I looked down the road to gauge the speed of the oncoming traffic, waiting while the Dharwad busses barreled through and the bikes sped by, then headed into the crosswalk.

Apparently, there was one motorcycle I had failed to see.  Maybe I had just misjudged his speed with relation to mine.  Maybe he’d been stuck behind a truck that he’d finally peeled away from.  Or maybe he was just driving plain crazy and too fast – which is not unheard of in India.  Regardless, I didn’t hear the horn until I was maybe four steps from the other side, at which point I stopped, looked up and asked myself: now what?

I’d played these games on the sidewalk before, when you’re running down the street right toward someone walking, and you have to catch each other’s eye or watch their body to figure out who is going to go left and who is going to go right.  I’d always decided that it was up to the runner to move – she was the one moving faster in the first place; so wouldn’t the same logic apply?  Wouldn’t this dude figure out that he needed to swerve to miss me?

Er. No. Thanks for playing.  At this point, I don’t remember much.  I don’t think there were any other vehicles coming that he would have had to look out for, but it’s entirely possible that there was another pedestrian behind me that kept him from swerving off course (I’m giving this guy the benefit of the doubt).  I have a bit of a hazy memory of getting hit, but I think I’m making it up.  I have no idea where he hit me, since there are bruises on both legs, or how I fell (or flew) onto the concrete.  I have no details to give you here.  The next thing I remember is crawling into a rickshaw with some helping hands, examining my shirt and pants and finding deep red splotches on both and taking in the scrapes on my hands and the sharp pain by my eye. (see terribly unflattering photo of me on hospital bed)

Turns out the my champion coworker Chinnababu, a graduate of the Deshpande Fellowship Program I had been running, had chosen a new route to work today and spotted a bright orange Deshpande t-shirted person in the middle of the road.  Whiiiiich happened to be me.  He tells me it was only by the grace of God that he was both later than usual and in the mood for a new route and that I was in my t-shirt.  A kind employee from the building next to ours had also seen the accident, or at least me on the ground, and had made it to me even before Chinnababu did.  Yay for Chinnababu!