Ahhhhhhhhhhhh SHIT! This is the last thing I remember after being hit from behind by a hit and run driver in El Salvador. Life did not flash before my eyes, I did not see any white lights, I just heard the screech of brakes behind me and as I turned to see the blue pick-up about to hit me all that registed in my brain was Ahhhhhhhhhh SHIT!
It was my second day in El Salvador and I was cycling towards the town of San Miguel. I had just finished my lunch which consisted of banana sandwiches and biscuits washed down with tap water (the diet of a budget cyclist) and I had rejoined the potholed highway to continue my way to the town when the accident happened. Unfortunately I have no memory from the incident, I do not remember if I flipped, flopped or fell to ground. I do not remember who called the police or what happened to me, I must have been hit pretty good as I was unconscious and just remember waking up on the side of the road, looking up at the standing policeman and just uttering the words “hospital” before he agreed and put me in the back of his police car and with sirens going drove me straight to the national hospital in San Miguel, ironically my destination for the day!
My injuries included one concussion, two holes in my forehead large enough to see down to my skull, two bashed up knees including a large hole in my left knee which is still healing one month after the incident. My left hand was all cut up, my calf muscles swelled along with my feet but luckily there were no broken bones and my brain/skull did not receive any major trauma even though stupidly I was not wearing my helmet. In the hospital I was quickly rushed to the x-ray room for brain and body scans before being whisked to surgery to sew up the two holes in my head and the one in my left knee. I needed 20 stiches in total. I was pretty drugged up on painkillers at this point but remember telling the surgeon just before he began that I didn’t have any insurance…to my relief he tells me “it’s ok, in El Salvador we have public health cover” and proceeded to inject general anesthetic into my head!
It was the next day when everything started to hit me, here I was in a hospital in El Salvador, and I had been hit, and hit hard enough to put me in hospital. I was also alone, I didn’t speak much Spanish and nobody knew I was here. I think I cried three times that day. I was to spend 8 days in hospital and hospital life became a sort of prison. I was woken at 5:30am for checks, before breakfast came at 9am. Lunch arrived at midday and dinner at 4pm. Painkiller drugs came sporadically throughout the day along with new hospital clothes and replacement bandages. I was not allowed outside and there was nothing to do. All my belongings were left at the site of the crash so I didn’t have anything including any way to contact my family in England. I kind of just sat there, drifting in and out of sleep, but overall I knew I was lucky to be this bored. In my room there was a guy who had been in a motorbike crash and he had sustained really bad spine damage, a guy who had also had a bicycle crash and was in a neck and head brace to stop him moving around and also a guy who had his fingers cut off with a machete after getting into a drunken new year eve fight!
After about five days one of the doctors let me use his phone to call my parents back in England, and it was great to see friendly faces although I knew they would be upset and worried. It was really good to speak to them and following the phone call I knew I had a decision to make, do I fly home to continue my recuperation or do I continue cycling. At this stage I wanted to come home, I was bored and lonely, I could hardly walk let alone cycle and I didn’t know the state of my bike or belongings. I was released from hospital after 8 days and checked into a local hotel to continue getting better there, which was a great relief as I was able to use the wifi, watch television and eat dinner at a more decent time. I was slowly getting better and it was with all the support of my family and friends back home. I was so touched to read the outpouring of support of everybody, and a massive thank you to everybody who got in touch, who called, who sent me money, and in the case of Kenneth and Marie who took a pause from their own bike trip to get a bus across the country to visit me. It was truly touching and meant so much at a time when I needed it. Thank you everybody. The support from and my quickly healing body meant that I knew I was to continue this damn bike ride, I had gotten so far and would not let one fucking stupid driver stop me!!!!!
I am now writing this post from Mexico, where I am again cycling with Kenneth and Marie. I cycled solo across the rest of El Salvador before joining my Danish friends in Guatemala. I have a new bike (the old one took most of the damage and was snapped and bent in the frame, rack and wheels) and after slowly building up my confidence I am back to full steam again, a be it this time wearing my helmet everyday! I thank my luck stars that I was not more seriously hurt and it is now only 5000km to the finish line of Reading, USA!! BRING IT ON!
Buy me a beer!! Thank you
This blog follows my cycle ride from Reading, Berkshire to Reading, Pennsylvania.