Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Room at the "Hilton" Hospital

Helping hands
I could not leave India without a little more drama and so, just miles before the border, my top box decided to try and make a run for it. Having no legs, it didn't get very far and landed on my back as I hit yet another pot hole. I decided to keep my arm around it as best I could and carry on slowly to a petrol station where I could remove all my worldly possessions in relative safety and attempt some running repairs! The crowd soon gathered as I began to unpack and after some frustration I looked up and addressed my audience
"Are you going to just watch or are you going to help?" 
"Help" came the reply and so they did! Before I knew it my top box was bolted back in place with some new bolts from around the corner and I was waving goodbye to my new friends and to India.

I am so grateful for all the support I received from so many people during my time in India. Thank you particularly to Alex and Vidya from Knomadic Knights for welcoming me and sticking with me through the customs debacle, to Neeta, Ashu and Anil for coming to my rescue more than once and welcoming me in to their family, to Korham who put up with me for several days riding and to all the riders who came and joined me and gave me such a warm welcome along the way. You are what makes India great! Thank you with all my heart! 

The western border in to Nepal was easy! I wondered from one small wooden shack to the next getting my visa sorted and my Carnet stamped and before I knew it I was in Nepal and being waved down by a police man who told me off for not having a helmet on! 
“Sorry I thought I had more stops” I said.
“Traffic is not good in Nepal” he smiled “You must be safe”
“You should try India” I said! 

The Mehendra Highway cuts across the entire width of the country. It is a beautiful road and initially very easy, which was something I particularly appreciated at this time! It was just a nice pleasant ride and so I managed a steady 300 mile day pottering along with the sound of Amy MacDonald singing “This is the life” in my helmet and the road stretched out before me in a smooth inviting path through the lush green hills. The roadside was dotted with Nepalese men and women smiling at me as they sheltered under their parasols, sedately walking their Water Buffalo on leads to wherever it is they take Water Buffalo! 

 I took an overnight stay in Budwal, where I was woken in the night by small creatures biting me again. This time I found myself covered in ants! They were tiny and they were in the sheets and all over me. I had to shower to get them off. It was not a pleasant way to wake up! Budwal was not the prettiest part of Nepal to say the least.

The girls room!
I was looking forward to getting to Kathmandu and meeting up with Dani, my friend from the UK. A lady I met last year whilst on a Nick Sanders tour. She rode her R1 across America and back with a few other riders (coast to coast) whilst I drove the support truck. We were “roomies” and she was now flying over to visit me for a week and help me check out Nepal. 

Dani is an excellent rider and I was ready for some company from home so she hired a bike and after a couple of days of taking in the clubs, shops and bakeries of the popular Thamel area of Kathmandu we decided to hit the road. Dani hired a Honda Tornado, I ditched the top box and off we went with just the bear essentials and a the promise of some great riding ahead.

Julian and Dani
Julian from Kathmandu Vintage Motorcycle Club joined us on his Enfield and we decided first to make our way to Nagarcot, about 50km east of KMD. From there we pottered over to Pokhara and spent a few days doing the general touristy things - checking out bat caves, riding on the highest zip wire in the world and checking out all the great live bands in the many local pubs. Nepal certainly likes it’s live music and plays all the old favourite rock tunes. It’s like the place was designed for me and Dani! Oh yes we rocked with the locals and boy do the locals know how to rock! 

It was great to ride with my old "roomie". We tend to work well together and so we pottered back towards Kathmandu, making frequent pit stops and generally just taking it all in. The views of the snow capped mountains, the rice fields, the rivers and the cool running water where we stopped to wet our buffs (or in my case, my t shirt and trousers too!) The roads were not as busy as I had seen them on the way in and so we took it all in our stride, taking it in turns to lead and wishing we had more time before Dani flew home in the morning. We agreed that we would see Nepal again and hopefully together.

About 20 miles from Kathmandu, as Dani led us around a long sweeping down hill bend, our daydreaming was brought to an abrupt end by a local rider and pillion who decided to turn in the road with no warning. Dani had no time to react and hit his front wheel. Her bike was sent careering across the oncoming lane and in to a ditch. Dani left the bike as it went down and continued in to the wall on the other side with a force that left me in no doubt she would have injuries. 

I pulled up as quickly as I could a shouted to Dani, who was now in the ditch
Freshening up
“Danni are you OK?” 
“I dont think so” came the reply
“Stay there. Don’t Move”

I shouted at the idiot who had been riding the bike as I crossed the now busy road
“WHY DIDNT YOU LOOK!”
They just looked at me as I added “Don’t go anywhere”. 

I jumped in to the ditch next to Dani who by now was looking quite pale. She needed a minute to get her head together and so rather than diving in Julian and I gave her a little breathing space and let her take stock. Julian busied himself getting the bike out of the ditch and moving things in to a safe position while I stayed with Dani and after a  minute we began to assess the damage. She could only feel pain in her shoulder but I could see blood dripping out of the bottom of her trousers as well as a crimson stain now starting to appear on the shin. The locals had gathered and were now helping Julian move the bike. Slowly I lifted her trouser leg to find lumps of fatty tissue falling out.
“Ok so this is not good!” I thought. 
“My leg is fine” Dani said as I lifted the trouser leg further. “ It’s my shoulder. Shall I get out of the ditch now?”. 
“Shut up and keep still. You make a terrible patient! Just do as your told for once!” I said trying to keep the mood light.
The wound on her leg was gaping. The skin and tissue had dropped down to reveal her muscles and ligaments underneath. I quickly dropped the trouser leg back down and used Julians scarf to apply some pressure and slow the bleeding. 
“Julian call an ambulance” I said
Dani pipes up again “Hang on. Not yet. I think I’ll be OK”
“Dani you are not riding home today” I said firmly as Julian got on the phone.

Between us we slowly removed Danni’s jacket and I could see straight away that the shoulder had dropped. It was surely dislocated. She could not move her arm and so we sat there calmly, blood flow under control, waiting for the ambulance to come and take over. We were safe and out of harms way so there was no need to do anymore.

My attention turned towards the other riders but they had taken their opportunity and ridden off whist we were busy dealing with the situation. 

As soon as they arrived I started getting out of the way to let them do their job but thought better of it as I saw two guys in shorts and flip flops get out of the truck and reach over to grab her by the arms to pull her out of the ditch!

“STOP” I said. “Don’t touch her. Are you not going to examine her first?” I turned to Julian once again ‘Julian please translate”. I explained her injuries to them and as the penny dropped they decided to get a stretcher! Clearly no medical training whatsoever! 

With the hire bike safely in the hands of the police who had turned up, Julian and I got on our bikes and told the ambulance we would follow. 

We were now chasing a crazy ambulance driver with a death  wish through blind bends and over broken tarmac and I found myself wishing I had thought to ask that all important question “Which hospital are you taking her to?” Yes that old friend Hindsight! All we could do was keep up! 

WHAT A RIDE! One I hope I never have the pleasure of repeating. Dani’s life was not in danger until she got in that ambulance! Amazing to watch! Looking back though, It WAS great fun when we got in to the city and were allowed to follow him over pavements with police waving us through! 

“How the hell did you two hooligans keep up?” were Dani’s first words as the doors were opened and we peered in “Alright mate?” I said. “Piece of cake” I lied just as the driver came over and presented me with the first bill for the ambulance service!

While they took Dani in to theatre to stitch her up and put her shoulder back in under a General, Julian and I rode two up on his Enfield to the best bakery in town and picked up a feast for us all. We were hungry and we were sure Dani would be too.

Dani and I shared a room in the hospital that night. Shoulder popped back in and leg stitched up good as new! She got the comfy bed! 

By 6am the ambulance was ready to take Dani to catch her flight and I was left to settle the bill (cheers mate!) for our stay at the most expensive room in town  (They didn't even have wifi!! ). Danni had to get her flight and so I stayed behind to wait for the cashier to arrive. We thought it would cost a few hundred pounds. I asked for some gas and air as they hit me with the unjustifiable total of £3,500!!! Thank goodness for medical insurance! We didn't even get a cup of tea while we waited. Julian and I had gone outside to the street stalls for some sweet milk tea while we had waited. 
Nice work Dani!

Ambulance Service - 3,000 Rps
Repair under GA     - 110770 Rps
Room for the night -  38,000 Rps 
Various other charges ……..

Seeing Dani smiling at the end and having license to take the mic for a very long time? 

PRICELESS! 

Dani mate, you are one tough cookie! I take my helmet off to you. 

Thanks to our new friend Julian from Kathmandu Vintage Motorcycle Club who made everything so much easier and would not leave us at the hospital until everything was sorted and even turned up at 5am to see Dani off! 

The Nepal team
Thanks also to the team at the hospital. Despite the high price of health care, the ground crew were very very nice indeed! 

Tomorrow I prepare my bike for shipping and head to Bangkok ready for the next leg of my journey!  Bring on Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.


See you there…….

9 comments:

  1. Take care, you must... Long, is the journey... Be safe... :*

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  2. Loving the girls' room picture!! Lol. Been a long day but home now. Huge thanks to you and Julian for all your help and support. And cheers for paying the bill.... ;-) And, yes, you are allowed to take the p*** as much as you want! I'll post some pictures of my 'smiley' knee when I can. Love you guys, Dani xx

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    1. Good luck Dani. Hope all heals well and your back on the bike soon.

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  3. .........its my pleasure to Ride with you too in NEPAL.See you soon in the other part of the world .ALL THE BEST................ RIDE HARD RIDE SAFE CHEERSSSS............

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  4. Well done Steph and Julian, good first aid and control of a difficult situation. :)

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  5. Cool as a cucumber under pressure you are Steph! I would have been freaking out and bashing some heads, ignoring the real medical issue, you are amazing :) Ride safe and keep that helmet on!

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  6. Sounds like you're having a fantastic adventure despite the hiccup along the way. I'm glad Dani is recovering well, and well done for looking after her. When ever it gets too much, just think of sad @@@@ers like me sat in front of a computer all day! You really are doing what we're on this planet for, to live! Keep it up. x

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  7. Thanks guys. Danni was the real star of the show though! So impressed with how she handled the pain! I would have been screaming like a baby!!! : 0 ) I'm not so bad with other peoples!!! : 0 ) ha ha! xxx

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  8. Wow Wow wow and holy crap wow!!! The road to adventure is not paved....hang in there! Love the video pieces. Vic in Canada

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