Friday, April 27, 2007
April Update…The Light! The Light!….From Thailand….
It’s been awhile since I last wrote you all. I knew the update was coming soon. The timing is on target, the content, completely off.
The last month of training has been difficult. April for the most part has been a write off. We lost at least 10 days due to Songkran – Thai New Year and the gym was crazy lax the weeks preceding. That coupled with the fact my knee is still healing (What is it? 3 months now?), I was bumming. Hardcore.
Despite my injury, I’d been incredibly motivated about training, but I felt this wasn’t being reciprocated. Padwork became monotonous, no one was training, the negativity surrounding me was harsh. Like I said, I was bumming. Hardcore.
I started considering other gyms. I started questioning my direction, my motivation, myself. Then I woke up last Friday at 5:30 am and said, fuck it. I’m going on the bike, I’m doing my 30km, I don’t care if no one else is training, I am. I tried to clear my head, meditate for a while, but it wasn’t happening. This shit was under my skin. So I skipped, hit the gym and jumped on the bike –
I’d sweat the nastiness out. Try to flip everything to a positive and keep my mind on the task at hand. Diffuse the voices of indifference and defeat that echoed inside my brain. They weren’t mine, so fuck em.
This is what was on my mind when I hit my second lap around this particular corner. My focus shifted and for a second I thought, ‘I’m going to get killed going around this thing one day’. Then I thought, ‘WTF am I thinking?’ and went back to battling the poison encompassing my heart. 1km towards that corner again and the thought came to me – ‘The gym is right here, go work the bags’. Nah, I wanted to exceed my limitations, not plateau, so I kept moving and headed towards my last 10 km.
I’m not certain what I was thinking next but I’m definite it doesn’t matter. One second I’m listening to Black Flag, the next I’m sliding, concrete grinding steel, my body struggling – then everything stopped. That’s when my tailbone, hip and back of my skull kissed pavement. Then bounced.
I got smoked by a 10 year old gunning a blue motorbike.
I heard screaming. Next thing I know, I’m being dragged to my feet and to the side of the road by a woman. I think she was crying. She was definitely screaming.
Her screams passed to wails then to consoling murmurs of distress. She was clutching me, supporting me, pulling me to sit in a chair. There was no way I was moving. The pain at the base of my spine exceeded anything I’ve ever felt before and my head was leaking. I was clutching on to a fence and trying not to pass out and puke. I was dizzy and I was seeing lights.
Townspeople were rushing in from everywhere. 5 – 10 – 15 -20 people? Hands with no arms kept thrusting menthol/eucalyptus oil into my face. Voices were merging. Then two thoughts surfaced:
1) I may never be able to train (in anything) again
2) I have no phone, no ID and I’m going to end up in a sketchy hospital with no way of contacting anyone.
That’s when I broke. I cried. I spoke in Thai. ‘No I’m not okay’. ‘No, I can’t sit down’. ‘Thank you but please go to the gym. PLEASE GO TO THE GYM’.
A voice I recognized was calling my name. I looked and the one guy in the crowd I knew had his arm outstretched, cellphone in hand. It was O. He was telling me everything would be okay. He would take care of everything. It was about 8:00 am and he was high. Shit.
Voices. Faces. Bright light. Eucalyptus oil up my nose. Heat. Soft heat on my left cheek. I looked and spotted my grappling partner. This Thai kid Mikun, his face emotionless, his eyes refusing to meet mine. In retrospect, the way he looked at me probably should have bugged me out completely, instead, it calmed me fully. I thought, ‘They’re here. Good’. Then I realized I was going to pass out.
It was as though fear acted as my strength – it was the only thing keeping me on my feet.
I asked to be sat down until the ambulance arrived – an old van with three guys and a stretcher. I thought about the countless times I’ve been called fat in this country and the EMTs looked small. Please don’t drop me….please don’t drop me. This was my silent mantra…please don’t drop me… I was lifted safely into the ambulance and one of owners from the gym climbed in. His face was grave. Later he told me I was a mess – sweat literally surging like water, my face burgeoning a boiling red.
I remember smiling, wiggling my toes and watching pretty white lights slither around his head.
I don’t know, I just knew I was going to be okay. Getting dragged didn’t paralyze me and to be honest, I was thinking, I’m too fucking hard headed to get taken out. I wouldn’t let it happen. Rational? No, but this is what was zapping through my brain.
I refused to believe this was permanent. Just a temporary setback, so I chilled and tried to tell them what was wrong with me.
Emerg was next. I was wheeled in and people started dancing around me. I kept saying, ‘My head isn’t good. My head isn’t good.’ The owner was worried about the fact I was dizzy and seeing lights – he wanted x-rays. He kept pushing for them; I kept trying to interject. No dice. So I took what I thought was the most direct, results-oriented route of communication – I looked at him, the doctor? Nurse? EMT?, the Thai kid in hospital gear standing beside him, reached behind my head and showed them a bloodied palm.
My head was promptly stitched up as I picked ants off my arm. Street ants? Baby MDs? No idea, but I’m still hoping the chick that pulled my scalp back together was wearing gloves. Over here, it’s not a guarantee. Some people get rocked from bacterial infections, not what they end up in emerg for. A German chick that was here got laid out for days from an infected mosquito bite….
When I hit the x-ray room, I realized they were worried I had broken my tailbone, my hip, my pelvis, fractured a feemer. I couldn’t move really, the pain was intense. But I kept wiggling my toes. Something inside me was telling me I was alright despite the look of concern on everyone’s faces.
Back to emerg. The owner was pacing….no one was looking at my x-rays…what were they doing……tick tock, tick tock….
Crazy – but I’m not complaining. I can’t tell if my recollection of everything is worse than what it was, but from what I was told, the cops were holding the kid until they got confirmation I wasn’t dead (yeah, try being a 10 year old waiting for hours for that news….). 4 days after the incident, I pull up to the hospital to get my stitches cleaned. A nurse grabs a wheelchair and pushes it towards the pick up I arrive in. I open the door, climb out and he has this look of awe and dismay on his face. His words…”You can walk?.” So honestly, I don’t know. It’s been a week now and although my tailbone area is tight and I’m a bit sensitive to light, I’m alright.
Wanna add a creepy element to it? Cool. The Thais are heavy on ghost belief. There’s spirit houses outside most homes housing the spirits of the dead – they don’t want them hanging with the living. There’s a definite old school feel to their beliefs concerning the power of the deceased, the power bestowed on locations where people have died, and what you do to avoid bad luck, sickness and tragedy….
…Approximately 2 months before I arrived in San Kamphaeng, an 18 year old kid from my gym was cruising on a motorbike down the same stretch of road I was. He crashed, the bike slid and hit a pole approximately 40 metres from where I landed.
His head bounced just like mine. He didn’t make it. I did. His name was Sak….
…And it was that same name people were screaming when they ran to the gym. They kept shouting…’Laura! Motorbike accident! Just like Sak!’….
…Granted some of the dramatic effect is lost when truth be told – one of the screamers was O, the guy I said who was completely lit, but that’s not the point (ha!)…
…Anyhow, the owner woke up thinking I was dead. I’m thinking I must have creeped out a lot of people who witnessed my crash.
All I can say is this, whoever had my back from that point til the moment I’m writing this right now. Good looking out. Thank you. I can’t believe I came out walking. Yeah, this sucks, I know, but who cares, I’m still standing.
You all better be too. I hope you’re all good.
*If you know my parents, don’t dial them into this. Thank you.
Later I found out that there is a Thai belief that if someone dies unexpectedly, on occasion, the soul stays where the body found its demise. The soul can’t be released, thus move towards Reincarnation until it captures another soul to take its place. I was told that’s what locals thought had happened to me. That Sak, the boxer at the gym who had died months prior to my accident was trying to have me take his place. This, I was told, in addition to my survival, freaked everyone out.