18 October 2016 4 Comments

Travel Experiences 5: Too Close to Living Bone

Grasping below the knee to apply pressure, I stared at my shin in disbelief. A chunk of skin had been gouged out. And I think I was looking at the lining of my tibia before blood obscured my view. Stunned, I picked a bit of flesh from my sock, feeling weird about throwing a piece of myself onto the cobbles. (I’ll spare you the gory photo.)

Strangely detached, I observed my denial: “The bleeding will stop and I’ll be able to ride back,” and “It may hurt a bit, but I’ll need to get up the hill to the train.” Blood ran into my sock.

Still clutching the leg, I hobbled into the monastery office. The staff assumed and then dropped their “What-do-you-want—you-already-saw-the-place-and-we’re-about-to-close” faces as they got a look at my shocked face and bloody leg. I asked about bandages.

The woman pushed me onto a bench out front while the man rushed off and returned with a first aid kit. They were scary sober. They wanted to take me to the hospital. Fighting shock, I was not ready or able to decide. Stitches didn’t make sense if there was nothing to pull together. I needed to get back to town and regain my balance.

My helpers managed to cram the clunky bike into the back of a small station wagon and drove me within 500 feet of my hotel. There were too many tourists to get closer. I used the bike as a crutch. I hurt.

Somehow I got a cab to a pharmacy. They had no butterfly bandages, large bandages, or anything antibacterial. I left with an iodine solution to clean the wound, gauze, tape, and an over-the-counter pain killer.

I was starved by the time I got back. Tour groups were overwhelming the restaurant about eight feet from the front door of my hotel. They were booked until after 9 and said they would run out of food. No to-go options and they wouldn’t loan me a plate.

Fortunately that night happened to be my hotel splurge night—my only night with a view and a bathtub. And plates! The waiter relented. He would give me food if I brought a plate. Using handrails heavily, I brought a plate twenty minutes later. He filled it with fire roasted chicken from a cavelike hearth, and salad. I took a nice photo of the lovely view and meal.img_4562

After relaxing in the tub with my leg hanging out I put on my glasses and pealed off the bandage to get my first good look at the wound. To my horror, a big V of skin was pulling up my leg. The wound had torn as the skin retracted. This had to be stitched! I diluted iodine solution in a cup and washed the wound, shaky hands dropping the cup on the tile floor, which was peppered with shards. Bleeding again, cleaning the floor was out of the question. And I needed a scissors to cut gauze.

I tried to call the front desk. My phone didn’t work. There was no room phone. Arm over arm on the hand rails, I hobbled downstairs. No one was around.

Finally I knocked on the door across from mine. Two women who didn’t speak English gaped at me. I pantomimed cutting the gauze with a scissors. They conferred and offered me a nail clipper, which I declined. After much gesturing and conjecturing, the women realized that I needed help picking up the cup shards. They gave me four normal band aids, which I criss-crossed, pressing together the edges of torn flesh so they would be close enough to stitch come morning.

I emailed my healer and my spiritual Teacher, called my best friend via internet, and went to bed.

img_4589Although I hate hospitals, I almost enjoyed my visit to the Czech hospital. I was out of there in about half an hour, having spent forty euros to have the wound stitched up by two nice women in a bright, teal tiled room with high ceilings. They put in a drain and said I would need to return in two days to have it removed. They warned me that the injured area of the leg was known for getting bone necrosis. I was supposed to rest it.

I was grateful that I could hobble some, although the stitches pulled uncomfortably if I walked on uneven surfaces—like cobbles.

Did you ever feel as if part of you had planned ahead for something you didn’t know would occur, or that a difficult experience was part of your learning curve?

How do you feel about receiving help from strangers?

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4 Responses to “Travel Experiences 5: Too Close to Living Bone”

  1. George Baker 18 October 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    Ouch! I have read the previous blogs regarding your trip with great delight and appreciation for your journalistic insights. This one leaves me feeling like I was punched in the stomach. Clearly I have issues with emotional identification. LOL! I admire the presence of self that must have descended upon you during this entire event.

    • Teresa Dietze 18 October 2016 at 8:40 pm #

      Hello, Friend.

      I’ve been thinking about you for weeks.

      Naw . . . it’s normal to feel for people you care about.

      Talk soon,


  2. Therese 20 October 2016 at 4:41 am #

    I read your post with the view of an observer, similar to how I would have viewed the experience if it were happening to me. It felt like you were doing a good job of observing yourself as well during this experience. Your experience with this injury seemed very normal to me. It wasn’t until I read your questions at the end of the post that I was taken by surprise.

    The questions immediately brought my trip to Ireland flooding back to me. Jeff, a friend, and I had taken a trip to Ireland which was to last 3 weeks. Just before we left, I began having an odd array of symptoms. By the time we arrived in Ireland, my symptoms increased and coalesced to the point where I went to the hospital and was admitted the next day. I spent 2 weeks in the hospital and was paralyzed for 1 1/2 of those weeks. I was using a walker when I left and was released with the understanding I was to go directly back to the US and see a doctor there. I learned a lot during my stay in Ireland, too numerous to talk about here. I remember it, still, as my best experience with a hospital and one of the best experiences of my life.

    I used to have a lot of challenges with being helped. Sometimes I still do but, when I need help, I have no problem with asking for help. I find people overwhelmingly kind and generous. I do find I still feel a little guilty about needing help but, in my current adventures, I’ll probably learn to get past that feeling.

    I’m so glad you are alright, that this turned out to be a good experience, and that you seem to be doing well.

    With Love,

    • Teresa Dietze 30 October 2016 at 10:04 am #

      Hi Therese,

      Wow. That’s intense! I’d love to hear more about your experience; what caused it, and what made it such a good experience. I’m sure it gave you gifts that would never have otherwise unfolded.

      Thank you for your good heart.



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