I thought I've experienced it all. However, the scariest part of being a Peace Corps Volunteer in a foreign country is when you've been severely hurt, you can't move on your own, and there's a language barrier. Not to mention not having close family or friends around.
No, this is not my story. It's about my friend.
About 9 hours ago today, she was biking in her province. A guy on moto (motorcycle) hit the back of her wheels. Both of them flew off as he landed on her. He got off and drove away. As she was trying to assess the situation, she realized that she can't move one of her legs and the other one was in immense pain. Thankfully, she did not hit her head. She kept calm (while freaking out) and called the Peace Corps medical officers, who were able to send an ambulance for her right away. She told me that they were pretty fast and patched her up nicely at a referral hospital before bringing her to the hospital in Phnom Penh despite the fact that it was the roughest ride of her life. She also mentioned that it was so difficult to explain on the phone or in person because of the language barrier (and the pain and hysteria too, of course).
She spent a couple of hours on the ambulance, and I am so surprised that she was able to text our group of friends so calmly and coherently. She really is a tough cookie!
However, I had a feeling that I really need to go to her so as soon as she was taken on the ambulance, I packed within 3 minutes (yes, I timed myself) to leave. Thank God for Reaksmey (Peace Corps security officer) and his lesson/reminder on always having a "Go Bag". I literally tracked down a tractor/rice plant carrier to go to the nearest town since there are no tuk tuks or cars around at the time. Once in the district town, I quickly found a torry (mini van) going to Phnom Penh thanks to the friendly locals. During the whole ride, I was worried, so I prayed and became calm.... and then got worried again, and so repeats the cycle. Thankfully, the torry ride wasn't too awful. They also parked right near a pizza place in Phnom Penh........ which was so fortunate because pizza is my friend's favorite food! I bought us a large pepperoni to share and rushed to the ER in hopes of making her day.
She greeted me with a smile and all my worries washed away. She told me about her diagnosis and recounted her adventures from the day. I could tell she was exhausted and in lots of pain, but she sure was a trooper! She was also staying so positive! When I tell her that, she admitted to screaming and crying... but regardless, she handled the situation so much better than I ever could have! I'm super proud of her.
Now, she's fast asleep in her hospital room... as I slump on the couch next to her. The day's not over yet, but I really needed to write this down. There is so much of today that I want to remember. The feeling of worry because you're so far away from that person and you know she's all alone too. Yes, there were medical staff to help her, but it's still not the same. Days like today, being away from home and close friends is hard. Even us volunteers in Cambodia, we are in different provinces and roads/ public transportation aren't that great so it's so hard to get to each other. When this happened, all us friends could do was talk with each other about our concerns for her. There is so much that I haven't written down because I'm not eloquent enough. However, I think that if I read this again in the future, this will remind me of the emotions we all had today.