So, I have had a fun-filled few weeks in Ecuador, so much so it has been hard to find the time to update. At this very moment, however, I am writing to you from my home in England, after I suffered a very unfortunate accident on a jungle trek last weekend.
We were on our second day of walking, having had an “interesting” night’s sleep in a kitchwa community in the middle of the rainforest. Things were going well, and I was busy admiring the beautiful flora and fauna all around whilst negotiating, topsy-turvy, machete-cut pathways through the undergrowth..when all of a sudden… I slipped. Falling about 4 metres, and landing hard on my left side, I immediately felt the bones in my left leg being contorted, bending and cracking.
It was immediately obvious that I had done myself some very serious damage and that I needed to get to a hospital asap, the question was, how, when in the middle of nowhere. My first, rather inappropriate thoughts, however, were not of the situation itself, but how similar mine was to Stephen Fry’s!
The journey was horrendous, taking about 3 hours in all – between periods of passing out from shock I was carried on male friend’s shoulder along the difficult paths through the undergrowth until we reached the river. From there we were able to get a canoe over to the closest road, where we were then able to take a taxi ride to the nearest town of Tena.
The hospital was definitely not desirable, it was filthy; multiple patients, some with great suppurating wounds, others with very infectious sounding coughs, were all being treated together in the same room. A surprisingly calm man being treated in the same room as me appeared to have skinned or burned the soles of his feet clean off. As he sat there, they oozed and dripped blood and another, thicker, yellowy substance, onto the floor, where it stayed, congealing, for quite some time.
What made it even harder for me, was that no-one spoke a word of English, so communicating what had happened and that I didn’t want any form or injection there was difficult (typically I hadn’t brought my “oh you’ll never need it but, buy it anyway” sterile needle kit with me). I eventually had my x-rays done, they didn’t seem too concerned and sent me away with a cast saying to come back the next day.
The next day dawned however and when I returned, the “specialist”, who also spoken no English whatsoever, immediately started talking about “clavos” (meaning ‘nails’), and pointing at various parts of my foot. It was clear the problem was a lot bigger than I had been first led to believe. The doctor told me I should stay in the hospital, that they would take a blood sample and put me in a bed until Wednesday, when they would operate (that day being the Monday.)
Fleeing the hospital, albeit slowly as I was on crutches, I was advised to get to a private hospital in Quito right away, as only there would the medical care be of a high enough standard.
Arriving that night in a private hospital in Quito, I was immediately put on a drip and a specialist was called. The man who arrived, called Dr Perz, was a breath of fresh air. He was a jolly, portly man who spoke good English and was one of those people who was partial to making jokes, which he then laughed at harder than anyone else. Inspecting the x-rays, he informed me that I could either have the operation here, tomorrow, or I could fly home and have it in next few days. The latter option, although the more appealing, carried the danger however, that even now the bones were fusing just 36 hours since the accident, leaving it any longer could jeopardise my ability to walk for the rest of my life. An easy decision to make therefore, I settled down for an uneasy night’s sleep.
Early the next morning I was wheeled into surgery, where they didn’t inform me when they were going to put me under general anaesthetic. The next thing I knew, I was laying naked on in the recovery room in absolute agony. I was also horrendously groggy and couldn’t work out any of the Spanish they were saying to me. It was probably along the lines of “we are about to stick a frikkin’ huge needle straight into a nerve in your arse” as all of a sudden they flipped me over and began injecting painkillers straight into my sciatic nerve. Not one of the most pleasant experiences of my life.
After I had recovered, the surgeon came round to explain what he had done. Holding up a grizzly, but still ever so slightly exhilarating x-ray of the metal in my leg, he explained that he had put a plate and 8 pins in my tibia, and 2 large pins in my ankle. He also told me that the breaks had been serious ones, unlike I was first informed in Tena, and I should have had the surgery straight away – they had already had to re-break my bones to fix them as it was – but I would be okay.
Thus faced with 7-8 weeks of convalescence, which I didn’t fancy spending alone, without my friends, family and boyfriend by my side, I reluctantly agreed to be repatriated…