Lying flat on a pile of mud with a pain so excruciating that it made me feel numb in the rest of my limbs, I could see my perfect vacation turn into my worst nightmare. Not to forget that there had already been an episode of screaming and moaning right after I noticed my dislocated ankle piercing through the skin around my lower shin, but I stopped once I realized I had done enough to damage my lungs, signal the entire village for help and send the birds into hiding. Lol.
With tears still rolling down my cheeks, I closed my eyes and wished for all of it to be a bad dream. I wanted to go back in time and wake up to the soothing sound of the river and the sweet smell of my baby cuddled up next to me. Instead, I opened my eyes to some nervous gibberish ringing in my ears and insects crawling all over my body. I carefully rolled over just to make sure nothing else was damaged and most of all, warn the many-legged crawlers that Gulliver’s still alive. Lol.
It had already been around half an hour and my pain thresholds had rapidly started to deplete and just when I thought I would pass out, a man came running towards me holding a small wooden plank and a roll of bandage. I tried to figure out his intentions meanwhile he gently lifted my broken foot, placed the wooden plank underneath and started masking it with the bandage in order to hold the broken bones together. I noticed the sweat on his forehead and wondered why his hands were as cold as ice. They felt like a chain saw every time he touched my leg to wrap the bandage around carefully. The arrangement sent me into another fit of intolerable pain (and aggressive swearing 😛 ) but it did feel like the first ray of hope towards efforts being made to get me out of the misery.
As I continued to lie down helplessly under thick rain forest trees, the unnecessary delay and commotion around made me realize that these men were having a hard time finding a way to bring me closer to the river. After almost an hour of crying and pleading, I decided to use my undamaged leg and whatever energy I had left in me to hop closer to the river on my own where a raft was waiting to take me to the other side (ironically the same raft that had caused all the trouble in the first place) .
As the raft made its way against the current, I got closer to my family waiting on the other side and my emotions became hard to contain. I broke into tears with pain but the warmth of my husband’s touch and the comfort I found in my daughter’s hug consoled me throughout my journey to the nearest hospital.
Unfortunately the nearest hospital did not have the adequate facilities to deal with a complicated fracture, but they were kind enough to carry out an X-ray, do my bandage properly and give me a few pain killers without charging us a single penny.
The relief from the pain killers lasted for a while and it took us another 5 hours to reach the hospital in main city Colombo where my ankle was operated and fixed with the help of 8 screws.
Today, almost three months after the surgery I have gone back to most of my daily activities but my foot still hasn’t gone back to the way it felt before. Every time I am reminded of my cancelled vacation and the pain that I suffered, I see this quote by Anthony Bourdain flash before me;
“Travel isn’t always pretty, it isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart, but that’s okay. The journey changes you – it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart and on your body. You take something with you, hopefully you leave something good behind. “
The screws dig deep into my skin to remind me of my limitations every day but my scars make me proud of what I have come through and most importantly what I have left behind.