Homecoming: California

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Motor scooters are evil.

Ever since my accident on August 9th, 2012, I was flown back home to southern California to recuperate. Without getting too much into detail and multiple pages of webspace, let me update you quickly on the what and where…

I work on a cruise ship. Yes, a ship. Namely, one in Hawaii. The hours are long but the work is fairly simple: you serve guests for about 10-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 5 months straight. Many Americans would be appalled at the amount of hours we log in and say we are worked like dogs. Sure, we do get worked but for great compensation. The rare off-time we get is usually spent exploring whatever Hawaiian island we are docked at that day. August 9th was a Thursday and we were docked in Kauai like any other Thursday.

That day, I had some free time between shifts as I worked 8-11am and 4:30-11:30pm. So between shifts, some friends and I were going to meet up, rent scooters, and run around the island on such a beautiful day. The agenda was whatever we wanted it to be- maybe visit the sea turtles in Poipu, go to Wailua Falla, or just get lost on the Napali coast. Anyway, I had gotten off work before my coworkers did and right away I rented my scooter. Now, call me hasty, but in retrospect, maybe choosing the scooter with duct tape and 3 broken signal lights wasn’t the best decision I’d ever have. But the worst decisions were that I declined the optional helmet and ventured off by myself. You’ll see why. A couple hours later, I was scooting through the farm roads with the salty breeze through my hair and nothing on but my bathing suit, tank top, skirt, and sandals.

Occasionally I stopped to take some photos but quickly tucked my iPhone back into the back of my skirt and sped toward the sea turtles. At a T-stop, I was set to make a left turn off the farm road and onto the main highway. As I accelerated and turned left, I quickly realized that I hadn’t turned the bike enough and at the very least, the back end would clip the guard rail in front of me. In a blink of an eye, I hit the brake, jerked the handles left and skid into the gravel, just to fishtail. In an instant, my right leg was caught between the guardrail and the bike itself, causing a layer of skin to be sheared off of the back and inner right thigh. Although I had tried braking, the momentum in the bike was already too great and I had to brace myself to be thrown off. I let go of the bike, and as it sped into oblivion, I grabbed onto the railing, somersaulted over, and did everything I could to protect my head from hitting anything first. From the corner of my eye, I saw my right shin get caught on the metal edge and slice like a piece of deli meat. Then I rolled. Guardrails next to a road generally mean there’s a hazard next to the road that cars need protecting against. In this case, it was a ledge and hill. After some tumbling into some forest, I heard a faint skid of a car, then some footsteps from someone running. A lady had seen me fall and was the good samaritan who jumped over the rail and stopped me from continuously rolling.

What seemed like decades later under the hot summer sun, I was gingerly and slowly lifted up to level ground by her and a few other angels. My legs were scorching hot with pain and my body seared under the weight of my bruising. My phone had flown out of my skirt and of all days, it was put on silent. My left arm was scratched up from shielding my head from the bushes while right arm was hot and sticky. I looked up briefly, only to see that it was covered in blood. The source: unknown. The only momentary happiness I felt was in knowing someone found my phone~

In the ambulance, I prayed, begging God, Allah, Buddah, and anyone else who’d hear me, that I didn’t deserve this and that I’d do anything not to lose my legs. As my body was limp and taught at the same time, I screamed for DRUGS OF ANYKIND- “Morphine, Codeine, Tylenol, anything! Even an epidural! Just give me something!” But the EMT could only help me text my friend about the accident.  In the speaker, I whined that I was sorry, that he’d have to cancel his trip to see me in Maui. As any great guy would be- he was calm, loving, and had me relax. Then I slipped in and out of consciousness.

In the ER at Wilcox Hospital, I was given 3 doses of morphine. 1 because the dose of codeine didn’t work, a second because the first one lasted only a minute, and a third, when I started feeling the doctor’s multiple needles going into the wound. These multiple needles were the only way to get local anesthesia in the wound so it could be cleaned. In that moment, I felt like the pain should’ve yielded me a child atleast. While laying there, without warning, I burst into tears. Not because of the pain, but the shock and dismay I felt, as well as knowing I let my coworkers down. A couple minutes later, I came to my senses as I realized there were still leaves and twigs in my hair and that I was surrounded by potentially hot doctors. What HORROR! I quickly race to get nature out of my hair. Hours and x-rays later, I’m wheeled out of the ER and taken back to the ship, with crutches in hand. The next day, I’m flown out of Hawaii and am being picked up my friend at LAX. After two months of straight work, I’m forced to go home and relax. Something not easily done by a busy-body such as myself.

Now, as I have almost fully recuperated, I have taken up walking around this great city we call Long Beach. Partly because I’m naturally curious, partly because I have no car (given up since I work on a ship). With my CSULB student ID in hand and my crutches in storage, I’ve resurrected my blogging. This is my homage to California, my home, its people, and my gratefulness to be alive after such an ordeal.

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