“COME PICK UP THE OTHER HALF ON THE DROP ZONE” (part 3 of 3)

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Recap: After ridiculing friend Martin’s weekend skydiving plans one Friday night in a pub he publicly challenges me to come pick up one half of a R10 (close enough to USD10) note on the drop zone – if I dare. I accept the dare and do the jump – with less than perfect results: I cannot seem to get up and stand on my right leg after, and having landed in a cow patch I now spot a bull and my friends bearing down on me from different directions. On arrival at the hospital it becomes apparent that the medical attendant’s national sport team had just won a significant event – and he had been celebrated prematurely… Now read the concluding part of this real-life story:

And so opens another chapter in the Saga of Saturday.

I am placed on a high medical bed. He prods here. Bends the foot there. Oohs and Aahs as doctors do. Its part of the final exams for a doctor, the Ooh and Aah bit.

“Ouch!” that was me.No Ooh and Aah out of me. I am not qualified.

“Hm. Worst sprain I have ever seen in my life”, and with that he arms himself with a crepe bandage and proceeds to wrap my ankle – which of course requires it being moved about and lifted a bit.

More “Ouch”. Less Ooh and Aah.

“Ok you can get up now” and with that he stands back to admire his medical skills and for me to get off the bed.

It is starting to dawn on me that this is going to take more than an Aspro and a week to heal.

I slide off the bed, put my foot experimentally down – and it just folds sideways, collapses.

Make that two Aspro’s and two weeks.

We look at each other. The smile on his face had – hopefully – very little to do with my wobbly foot.

Two of my earlier rescuers went outside and came back with a “dropper” which is basically a thin metal pole that is used in South Africa to do wire fencing. They bent it into a walking stick and handed it to me.

We hobble back to the truck and camp. Someone produced a bottle of Scotch which was to be my comfort for the night and which I stood swigging at until it was empty. Yes and there was a certification ceremony and a barbeque to celebrate my jump. The bottle of scotch was of course a mistake. The midnight pee was agony.

But the morning was worse. I now had to content with a “severely sprained ankle” and “roaring campfire” in my head. And the leg was by now swollen into the size of a watermelon. Bulging over the crepe bandage.

So, up we packed. Off we went and straight to The Groote Schuur Hospital, made famous by Dr. Chris Barnard for performing the world’s first heart transplant there. Hopefully I was not going to need any transplants. Hopefully.

“So, what is wrong with him?” At last a doctor is attending to me. A doctor with white clothes on. Not a swaying sport fan with impeded faculties dressed in shorts and a T-shirt. And victory on his mind.

By this time it is late afternoon. I am thirsty. In pain. Hung over. Hungry. My impatience led to ehm .. a difference between me and the doctor. I was declared unruly, un-co-operative and forthwith kicked out of the hospital without treatment.

Doctors 2. Kris 0.

Ok. Let’s go back home. That is a good place. Maybe.

There was a deep sigh, a worried look, and sympathetic eyes. With a tear in them. Mom said little other than “ai” which can probably translate (in this instance) to “and what now?” And a few other sentiments. Subdued was not the word to describe Martin and the other blokes. Silence is golden. I now know where Simon and Garfunkel got the idea for the name of their famous song.

“Ok Ma’am. We are sorry. And we have to go now.”

The night was long.

Gillian (a colleague) arrived during the course of the next day with a get well card which features on the cover of this book. Together with Mom they decided to take me to another doctor. I made a promise not to fail this test.

X-rays showed what we suspected. Ankle broken in two places. Fibula (outer of the two bones in the lower leg) snapped and broken in half.

The sporting doctor was right: Worst sprain ever.

I pleaded with all not to put my right leg in plaster, having had my left leg from toes to hip in plaster of Paris for extended periods when I was in primary school. It is not fun.

”No, of course not. We know the agony people go through. Your Mom told me about your childhood struggles in plaster of Paris. Don’t worry. But we will have to put you under narcosis to attend to things because the leg is quite swollen”.

Doctors talk in understatements. Swaying or sober.

So I woke up with my leg in plaster of Paris.

Doctors 3. Kris 0.

And a dent in my trust towards doctors. Do they also get taught this in medical school?

Mom was good enough to go buy me a bottle of whiskey as a bedside buddy whilst I struggled with the inconvenience of stiffening knee muscles.

I went back to work as soon as I could to submit my resignation in preparation for my emigration to Australia – by ship – which is another story in this book.

Brian, the IT Manager of our Section took one look at my resignation letter.

“How can you resign? Look at you. You can hardly walk”.

Footnote: Now 32 years later I found out that the first doctor was actually a radiographer and doubling as a vet! And he did not spot three breaks in my leg! Glad I am not a sick dog in his town. I will have no legs left. I copy Martin’s informative line “Do you recall the radiographer[1] at (place name) that gave you a clean bill of health also worked for the local vet .”

My comment: Glad I am not a dog or a cat…

~~~~~

They tell me the second jump is more fearful than the first. Although I am ready to go out and face my fear our doctor advised against it. My wife is currently also winning the argument against a second jump however many times I point out that former US Pres George Bush (Sr.) did his number eight jump at age 90.

[1] Radiographer: An important member of a diagnostic health care team. Responsible for producing high quality images to assist medical doctors and specialists in diagnosing/monitoring injuries / illnesses. Where is Superman with his X-ray eyes when you need him?

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