Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Collar Bone

So it's been about a week since I arrived back in Africa. I'm assuming most of you know why I had to come home again last time but if not, I'll fill you in.

Once Max and I returned from our short vacation to Zanzibar, we continued with some jobs that we needed to do in Arusha. First one on the list was going to check Mama Mary's bunk bed. We drove down with Adam in the morning, and to our surprise found the bunk bed still in pieces. When Adam had dropped it off a few days before, the builder had promised to assemble it for us too. To be honest, I wasn't too fussed and I didn't mind putting it together with Max. Adam had to go back into town to do some jobs, so one of Mama Mary's neighbours came to help us set the bed up. We had one slight problem, which was that we didn't have a spanner or any tool the right size to tighten the bolts once we had put it together. We spent quite a while doing it with our fingers, and some bizzarely shaped piece of metal who the neighbour seem to be able to do it with. I got frustrated, so headed up to one of the hardware stores nearby to buy a spanner. I couldn't find one the right size, but the guy kindly lent me a pair of pliers, and those came in pretty handy. I was so relieved once we finished assembling the bed, to be honest, it hadn't really sunk in at all until I saw it there. What I mean by that is, I'd finally finished something, something I'd be working towards for a long time and a good thing too. The bunk bed finished it off for me, I was so pleased, I nearly cried. Max and I had a cigarette and a lie down, I passed out on the bed before lunch was ready, it was so comfortable!

 Mama Mary fed us with a ridiculous amount of food and both me and Max were completely stuffed afterwards. Adam turned up shortly after we had eaten, and we decided to leave there and then. Unfortunately, as Adam was pulling out of where he parked, he drove straight into an area which was completely bogged, we were stuck. We tried so many things to get us out of there; we found pieces of wood and tried to jam then under the back tyres to get some grip whilst reversing, I tried putting it in four wheel drive but the front tyres started to get stuck too, eventually we dug holes around both rear tyres and filled them with some gravel, after half an hour of digging and pushing, on a full stomach and covered in mud, we managed to get it out of there. Everybody was relieved. I told Adam that I'd drive home, so I jumped in the front and drove us back. Writing this so long after it happened, I really can't remember what we did that evening, but I'm sure it involved drinking some beers and celebrating a little bit.

The following day, Max, Adam and I drove to Duka Bovu, to have a look at another possible project. Adam, works for a local NGO called 'Project Rehema', he knew Mama Dora through his work, and knew that she needed some help with housing. Mama Dora cares for four orphans; Maria, Emmanuela, Joshua, Ezekiel and. In 2010, Mama Dora was threatened to be evicted from her home due to being unable to pay rental fees, luckily 'Project Rehema' stepped in and supported her. However due to ever rising prices in housing in Tanzania, 'Project Rehema' are unable to continue supporting Mama Dora and her family, so, she needs a new home. Max, Adam and I, firstly met Mama Dora and three of the children, and then drove to see the small plot of land which she owns. The landscape is beautiful where she lives, I love getting out of Arusha a little bit and seeing the vast plains of Tanzania. The land was the perfect size for a small project, if not a little bit too big. Mama Dora was a lot warmer to us when we met her, and I got a much better vibe from her and the children than I had in Monduli-Ju. My gut was telling me that I should go with this project if I wanted to do another one, so I pretty much decided there and then that I'd do it. Of course, I didn't say anything to Mama Dora, as I wouldn't have wanted something to go wrong and to let her down. Pretty much a team by that point, me and Max were excited at the prospect of doing another house. We headed home, and relaxed.

I've just realised that I've been blabbing on and haven't told you why I had to come home! Well, after this eventful week, I went and played football on Sunday morning, and aimed to return around mid-day to take Max to the Impala hotel to say goodbye. Unfortunately, due to a pretty clumsy tackle by the goalkeeper, I took a bad fall and land straight on my shoulder on hard ground. I felt and heard something crunch, but I really wasn't sure what I'd done. It didn't hurt too much at the start but after about five minutes I was in a lot of pain. I managed to stand up and walk off the pitch. Tom came over, and still drunk from the night before kept trying to tug on my arm, I couldn't make it any clearer that I was in pain so eventually I shouted at him and told him repeatedly to 'Fuck off' and to not 'touch me'. Eventually he got the point that I was in a bit of trouble and rang Adam to come and pick me up, I needed to go to hospital. Adam got there really quickly and got me into the car. Adam also had to get to Impala hotel for 1pm so he was driving like a maniac to ensure he could get me sorted and get back to Max in time to take him to empala. After about fifteen minutes, both of my arms had gone completely numb, and then pain had got a lot worse. I wasn't really sure what I'd done still, I just knew I needed some morphine. We got to the hospital, seeing how much distress I was in they pushed me to the front of the queue. I went straight in to see a doctor, he had look at me, asked me some questions about the fall, and was quick to assess that I'd broken my collar-bone, great. In a considerable amount of pain, and with my adrenaline going like crazy, I lost my temper a little bit when there wasn't a nurse available to give me some painkillers. I can't remember exactly what I said but I know that I offended some locals. After what felt like a lifetime but was only about five minutes,  I went to see a nurse and she gave me a shot of morphine, in my arse of course, and I felt a little more comfortable straight afterwards. I called my Mum and explained the situation and just let her know that I didn't have any travel insurance, she wasn't best pleased but just told me to keep her posted and that she'd ask some doctors from work what the normal procedure with a broken collarbone is. Before I left, I apologised to the locals who I had offended. We had to find a hospital that had an x-ray machine, so we left in a hurry and din't even pay for the morphine!

I think we had to visit about three other hospitals before we were directed to a small clinic about ten minutes away. Hidden behind the ICC building, we found this small x-ray clinic. A friendly nurse welcomed me in, and offered me a seat. Adam explained the situation to her, and explained that he had to leave, but somebody else would come to assist me and bring some of my cash so that I could pay for the x-ray. I said goodbye to Adam, and said that I'd see him soon. The nurse managed to undress me, for the x-ray, it was so painful again, I really hadn't experienced anything like it before. The doctor explained to me that he needed to x-ray me neck too, and that blows like that to the shoulder can displace disks in your neck and cause serious injuries so it needed to me checked out. I said a little prayer, I was so worried that I'd fucked my neck too. Soon after we'd finished the x-rays, Hassan arrived who is Adam's older brother. Hassan doesn't speak much English but he was really relaxed and helped me to calm down. Luckily, my neck was fine, but I had a clear break in my collar-bone and instead of being straight the thing was almost in a upside down V shape. I paid the doctor and he called a local orthopedic surgeon and arranged for me to have a meet with him. On the way to the next clinic, I decided that I was hungry and stopped to get some food from a place near the clock tower. The clock tower is where you'll find a lot of guys trying to sell things to tourists. I walked out of the car with my arm in a sling, no shoes on and covered in mud and this guy still tried to sell me a map. I couldn't believe it, but all I could do was laugh. I went inside and grabbed a sausage roll and a croissant. We arrived at the clinic and had to wait a while for the surgeon to arrive, I fell asleep on the couch there for about an hour. When he arrived he told me that he'd like to put me under anesthetic, pull my arm out, and crack the bone back into place, and then charge me 300,000tsh, about £170. I wasn't too sure, so I called home. My mother had spoken to some doctors and they said it was a bad idea. So I asked her to book me on the flight home the following night from Nairobi. Fourty-eight hours later, I was at Sussex hospital a&e, wacked out on painkillers and not really sure what was going on. The nurse had a look at my x-rays, and booked me in for an appointment at the fracture clinic the next day. They didn't do much apart from put me in a better sling and tell me that it was about a 6-8 week recovery period.

After a month at home, I decided to head back to Tanzania before my concessions ran out so I could still get a cheap flight over. I didn't do much for my first two weeks at home. I just sulked most of the time and stayed in bed but eventually I found some energy and started to get things moving with the next project. My Mum, Max and I teamed up and put the papers through for registering as a charity a few days before I left. Once those go through, it will be so much easier to raise funds and to get companies to sponsor our work. It's all pretty exciting but it's going to be a bit slow for a while.

I haven't done much this first week from being back in Tanzania. The public transport isn't the best idea with my collar-bone so I've been spending a lot of time at home, just watching DVD's and waiting to be better. I'll update you with with more info on my time here soon. I just can't get to get better and start the next project, the money is there thanks to a good friend of mine, Jordan who helped us out with £5,000. I need to get back into my sling now.

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