Thursday, October 22, 2009

My Fall

I was warned about winter--short days, cold, bad roads, ice. Danger of falling. But Monday October 19 was a blue-sky autumn day, gold leaves falling to the ground, sunny and bright. I went to Victoria's, then to the Library, then to Sergei's store to buy cartridges for my printer and a ream of paper. My backpack and my bike basket were loaded down. I decided to go home for lunch, then meet Helen, the teacher.

I waited for the light to change, started walking my bike across the street, then saw a huge truck barreling down on me, horn blaring. I started to get on my bike to peddle across the road faster. That's when it happened: I fell, my bike fell, my stuff went flying, and I was on my left side, sharp shooting pain in my upper left arm and shoulder. I was in trouble. The truck passed me and kept going, no problem.

My winter came early. But for the kindness of strangers I might still be lying in the road. A young man and wonderful woman got my stuff and me across the road. I didn't need to speak Russian for them to get the message that I needed help. Soon another young man came with ice to put on my shoulder, the ambulence came, Luba and Sergei came. I was screaming in pain, but I was in good hands. I was taken to the hospital, had an xray, and the nice doctor told me the news: I had broken my arm, a fracture near my left shoulder.

Weak with pain, I had to notify the Peace Corps as soon as I got home. Now a whole new journey began. I was told I had to go to PC headquarters in Kiev to have their doctors look at me. It is PC policy and procedure. On Tuesday it was a two-hour bus ride to Lugansk, a 15-hour train ride to Kiev, me and my tylenol. I felt sorry for the nice young couple and their 14 year-old daughter sharing my coupe (4 bunks, upper and lower across from each other) because I groaned and moaned all night long. I was miserable company.

But I made it to Kiev, was met at the train, and have been well cared for. Great doctor, another Xray and an MRI disclosed a worse break than first thought. I will stay here for the weekend. Dr. Yuriy has to send the Xrays and reports to Washington, get their interpretation, and then let me go. I hope I can go back to Starobilsk on Monday. I'm missing some meetings and my English Club. But it's the way it is. I'm (re)learning patience. I will take it one day at a time, heal, and go on.

As I am about to call it a day, I get more news: I am not alone, Barbara emails from Simferopol, another PCV in my group 36, Jason, just fell and broke his arm. He's on his way to Kiev. My fellow PCVs from across Ukraine are emailing and calling and sending flower photos. "But Fran, we hope you haven't started some kind of trend here. We don't need THAT much adventure"!

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