Accident *WARNING* *GRAPHIC CONTENT* – The time I nearly lost my foot……..
Well ok..so here we go, my first accident tale.
For the record, I have been accident free now for 5 years. *knocks wood*!!
This accident (and the 2nd one i had later, which you can read about here ) happened when I was a new rider, and sadly within just a few months of each other.
This tale is also one that anyone who lives in a tropical climate should take heed of.
For it could have easily been non-moto related.
First of all, one should note that life in Thailand is not anything like the “West”. For starters safety is taken less seriously in general. So the hospital care is, well quite frankly, often lacking..and that goes for many of the expensive hospitals too. I have come to learn to never have complete faith in anything here. I need to triple check anything that is deemed important or serious, and I always do my own research also. You absolutely cannot 100% rely upon anything said or done here. Sure, that can be the same in the West too, but I have found not to quite the same degree.
It is the norm (and often the only way to get through traffic) in Chiang Mai for bikes to use the far left of the road to drive along. Particularly useful when cars are gridlocked or at traffic lights. On this particular day I was riding along the inside when suddenly, without using indicators (or his mirrors, obviously), a red Songtaew (small minibus kind of thing) turned left sharply, causing me to crash into him. For the most part everything was fine (including my bike), but I received a nasty road rash on the top of my right foot.
The driver was either suddenly requiring fuel (as he was turning into a garage), or, which I suspect more likely, he was fed up waiting in traffic and thought he could shave off some of his time by driving through the garage and straight out at the exit. Songtaews are notoriously bad for cutting up traffic etc.
Well, when the accident happened the driver at least got out to take a look. I was furious and shouted at him in anger, particularly about him not putting on his indicators (which resulted in him dashing back to his steering wheel and switching them on ..*sigh*) The staff at the garage came over and one was already calling for the police and emergency services. (I honestly didn’t think i needed emergency services, but they were called, and it was good they were called really). The police came and took down a report from me and the driver. I am lucky that the garage staff took my side and the policeman was respectful towards me. The Songtaew driver and policeman went off to the local station and I was sent in a small emergency vehicle to the hospital. My wound was scrubbed and dressed and I was sent away and had to go to the police station to sort out the report.
Now, at the time I thought that’s it, nothing really to worry about. I didn’t press any kind of charges or ask the driver for any compensation. I just made the report, hobbled home, and thought all would recover in a short period of time. I remember being a little annoyed as I had planned a big night out dancing..haha. I began wondering if I could go dancing anyway, but thought better of it.
As a kid in the UK I always got cuts and scrapes galore. I was a girl who liked to play like a boy, lots of climbing trees and riding a bicycle like a mad person and stealing my brothers skateboard to play on. It was common for me to get cuts and bruises. They always healed easily and I have a few white scar slithers on various parts of my body as permanent reminders. So, i figured this wound would heal pretty fast and all would be well. It didn’t. In fact within a day and a half my foot became massively swollen and pink. I became very alarmed and took myself to the hospital.
The hospital suggested I be checked in to stay, but stupid me and my horrible fear of hospitals declined the recommendation. I asked instead to have outpatient treatment. So, I was put on an antibiotic drip for an hour and told to return the next day (I later found out that I really should have been administered oral antibiotics at the time my wound was cleaned, but such is life…). bad news is that the drip didn’t improve anything and the swelling and the pink area spread. I returned again to hospital and was told that i MUST check in as an inpatient. That it was serious. Very serious. So, I checked in. I was put on antibiotic drips, but the swelling and pink didn’t die down. The wound started looking really quite disgusting. The doctors were worried. I was petrified. At one point I was told that if things don’t improve I may have to go to surgery and… *horror*… have the foot amputated! Can you imagine what it feels like to be told that? The blood rushed out of my face. Everything felt cold.
As I was given drip after drip of antibiotics I lay in bed picturing myself getting around with an amputated foot. I told myself it would be fine and that actually it’s OK. Telling myself that didn’t always work though and as days went by I got used to moments where my pillow got wet with tears.
Anyway, the storm finally broke and I was told the infection was gone. I don’t quite recall how many days that was, but i believe around a week. Felt like a lifetime. I was then scheduled to have the wound debrided as the tissue was dead. After the wound was debrided I was stuck on a vacuum pump in a busy Thai government hospital ward.
**Why wasn’t I in a private ward?
Well… because I (unintentionally) found myself without insurance. Now before you roll your eyeballs at me, it wasn’t quite my fault. When I purchased my Fino motorcycle, less than two years previously, it came with two years of free insurance. After one year, when I needed to renew the tax, I went along to the Yamaha dealer that I bought my bike from and asked about the paperwork I had, to check that I was still covered. The paperwork was completely in Thai, which was just too hard for my poor reading of Thai language, so I checked with the dealer instead. The paperwork was checked and I was told, yes, not to worry, you are insured for another year. (Mind you, the insurance cover is really awful anyway, which I didn’t know at the time either..but would have helped.). Not only that, but when I renewed my tax they ALSO looked at the paperwork and gave me a new tax disc. So yes, NEVER rely on ANYTHING 100% here….
The reason there was confusion on this is because i had two sets of free insurance. One was third class accident insurance and the other was theft insurance. The theft insurance was for two years, but the accident insurance was only for one year. So alas, there you go…back to the accident story…
Its really no fun being a Westerner in a busy Thai Government Hospital, at least not for a quiet person. I was a constant curiosity. I was always stared at and talked about. I also could go nowhere really, because I’m rigged up to a static vacuum pump. I was only allowed to be off it for brief periods to use the bathroom or take an awkward shower. I was basically a fun side show for all.
My stay became stupidly long, and it was getting past the two week period. My surgery date for the skin graft kept being rescheduled because other emergency surgeries were taking place. I pleaded to go home and wait for a surgery date, and finally they allowed me to. So, my foot was placed in a cast and I was told to keep it extremely dry…during wet season in N.Thailand..lol. Sometimes I just want to bang my head…. and scream “WHY ME???!”.
So a week or so went by and I was finally informed that my surgery date was set. I went into surgery and the big gouged out wound finally was covered with a graft from my posterior (my ass, basically, but i was trying to sound more polite). The surgery was performed under local anesthetic, so the whole thing was quite weird really, but i felt nothing. I was sent home in another cast and told to be extremely careful and keep my foot elevated. The worry was that the graft might be rejected and die. Thankfully luck was finally on my side and all was well. It took nicely and healed fast, and I have a rather bizare island looking scar on my right foot to show for it.
I thought my drama was over accident-wise, but sadly the biggest one of my life was to come a few months later. You can read about this here.
I *Knock on Wood* that I never experience anything quite like either of those issues ever again..
Ride safe and remember,
as nasty as they are,
sometimes you really do need to take antibiotics in the tropics!
My foot now, a bit Franken-foot,
but still attached to me, so that’s ok!
You can can read about my 2nd accident here
Have you ever had an accident on a bike? Or anything similar like an infection gone wrong. Leave me a comment, would like to know your story too!