Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Minor" Moving Mishap

What do a traffic jam, two motorcycles, a shoulder, and finger tugs have in common? Last Wednesday and me, that's what.

By the way, this is not my bike. I just wasn't up to taking
lots of photos of my own during this incident.
Original image found here.
As you know, if you read my last post, Rachel and I will soon be moving permanently back to the States. In fact, in a mere two weeks from now, we will be in a plane approaching Taipei, Taiwan, on the first leg of our long journey.

Most of the major busy-ness of closing down our home is done, leaving the last two weeks to focus on people, rather than logistics. That is what had been planned for last Wednesday. Rachel and I were going to visit a family that has a couple children she likes to play with. I enjoy visiting with the parents. Just one of many good-byes.

I had been with the kids at the children's home in the early afternoon. I left there on my scooter a bit before three o'clock to pick Rachel up and drive to our friends' house.

The Accident

Keep in mind that in Indonesia, we drive on the left.

At a four-way intersection, traffic was all jammed up. "Car A" was behind me (the red triangle) in the middle on the road instead of over to the left where it should have been.

"Car B" was coming straight ahead out of the opposite road, but couldn't go anywhere, because "Car A" was in the way,

"Car C" wanted to turn left, but "Car B" was in the way.

The only way to break up the traffic jam was for me to get out of the way so "Car A" could move forward and left to get out of the way of "Car B".

So, I moved ahead into the intersection, for some reason not noticing "Car D" speeding down the road toward me, an oversight extremely unusual for me. I swerved, and "Car D" stopped in time, avoiding an accident that would have been entirely my fault.

Breathing a prayer of thanks, I headed on through the intersection, passing in front of "Car C".

In the meantime, an off-duty policeman on his own motorbike (the purple triangle) approached the same intersection. He saw that "Car C" was waiting to turn left and couldn't go anywhere. He should have stopped beside "Car C", but he wanted to go straight, and figured it was safe for him to keep going.

Well, we both arrived at the same place at the same time. I saw him. He saw me. We tried to avoid each other, but it didn't work. I managed to stay balanced for a few seconds, but finally fell over onto my left side.

Several people, including the off-duty policeman who hit me, stopped to help me up. Somehow, I got to my feet, and realized something was really wrong with my left arm. I couldn't raise it or lower it.  The policeman asked me if I wanted to go to the hospital, which was right there on the corner. Well...yeah. Obviously.

The ER

I walked into the emergency room on my own two feet. They checked me over...kind of. I knew from the angle of my arm and the hollow-feeling place at my shoulder that it was either broken or dislocated. As I waited for further action, I made a few calls to let people know what happened.

By this time, the policeman had been back twice to check on me and see if I wanted to report the accident. Really? Seriously? At the moment, dealing with paperwork was the last thing on my mind.
They finally took me to get an X-ray which confirmed a dislocation. Unfortunately, the doctor who could deal with that kind of injury wouldn't be in until the next day. Needless to say, I was dismayed to think I would have to wait eighteen hours to get any relief.

On the positive side, several staff from the children's home came to the ER to help me. In Indonesia, this is very important because someone has to go to the pharmacy, physically purchase any medical supplies such as IV bags and needles that are needed, and bring them back to the doctor.

The Healing Touch
Next to arrive were four of the teenaged boys from the home. They had gotten home from school, heard that I was in the ER, and turned around to race back to the hospital. I was really very touched.

By the time they arrived, I had found a somewhat bearable position for my arm...over my head and supported by a pillow. That position, though, wasn't good for circulation, so I had to lower my arm once in a while.

Hendrik, one of the boys who came to see me, stood by the ER gurney where I was laying. He saw me grimace in pain as I tried to lower my left arm. He gently took my hand and massaged it. Then he gave a gentle tug on each finger.

Suddenly, I could lower my arm all the way without pain. I could raise it, too. The place in my shoulder that had felt hollow wasn't hollow anymore. I don't know why Hendrik's massage and the finger pulls made my shoulder go back into place, but it did. For that, I am extremely thankful.

Even though I thought my arm was OK, the ER staff urged me to stay the night until the orthopedic doctor could check me in the morning. I guess because at age fifty, I am considered kind of old here, they didn't want to take any chances. At my "ripe old age" I might be much more fragile than a younger person. (This is especially funny when you consider that I walked in on my own two feet with a dislocated shoulder, and coherently made several phone calls while in pain. I guess I'm tougher than they think.)

The Procedure Canceled
To make a long story short, I did stay the night. Initially, they put me in a room with a sixty-two year old gentleman with diabetes. Ibu Luh, who was visiting at the time, didn't like this setup and got them to move me to an empty room across the hall. (Thank you, Ibu Luh.)

Wayan, one of the staff ladies who is my good friend, stayed the night with me along with three of the teen-aged girls. Wayan slept in the second bed, and the three girls slept on the floor under the second bed.

The next morning at about 11:00, they finally came to take me to "surgery". I was sure I didn't need it, but I had to wait for the doctor to make it official. The anesthesiologist was the one who finally took me seriously and put the brakes on purchasing the medicines and supplies that would have been needed. 

The doctor checked me over and sent me home. Believe it or not, the whole experience from beginning to end only cost me $80.

I have much to be thankful for
  • Rachel wasn't on the bike with me when this happened.
  • "Car D" didn't hit me.
  • My bike wasn't seriously damaged.
  • God gave me tolerance for the pain.
  • God sent Hendrik to gently pop the shoulder into place.
  • I felt very well-loved by the kids and staff at the home.
Well, it's getting late, and I need to get to sleep. We are going to try again tomorrow to visit our friends. I'll be especially careful to avoid any more "moving mishaps".


  1. I am grateful that you are okay! God certainly was looking out for you throughout the entire episode! Enjoy your remaining time with your friends and BE CAREFUL!

  2. Thank you, Tamara. I will be careful. And God is so good.

  3. Wow, you're one tough momma. I'd probably be crying up a storm and my prima donna-ish behavior would delay any decent medical care (not that you received any). Thank God for youthful faith healers (ha-ha).

    At least in the states you'll get same day service for something like this. (Plus you can sue the cops for hundreds of thousands of dollars). Coming back to America is going to give you culture shock.

  4. They were so afraid to do anything to me without the specialist since I am "so old" (Haha!). They wanted to give me a general anesthetic before popping the shoulder back in, and they even did an EKG just to be sure my heart was OK before that procedure. They were afraid that the pain might give me a heart attack. I have to laugh. I really am more of a "tough old bird" than they think.

    Oh yes, they told me I shouldn't drive my motorbike for at least two weeks....Well, I'm driving it, and my shoulder is doing fine.


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