I’m riding down hill. The road is bumpy and flanked by thick beds of gravel. I haven’t seen a car in ten minutes and I’m going faster than I should. A car approaches around a corner. It’s going very fast up the middle of the road. As soon as I see it it’s right in front if me. I jerk my bike to the side and swerve out of the way. My front wheel jumps on the gravel and my bike flips up with me on it and I crash into the road.
I’m tangled. I can’t get out from under my bike. I don’t understand. Why is this happening? I look down and see my upper thigh has been skewered by my bike handle. The rubber’s come off and the metal cylinder is inside my leg.
“Oh fuck that.” I yell and yank it out. Probably not the best idea – my thigh visibly throbs and blood flows out thick and fast. I had a few funny thoughts in this moment.
1. Oh fuck it’s an artery and I’m in the middle of nowhere. I still want to be alive tomorrow.
2. Well, things are out of my hands now. Guess I better start yelling.
3. I wonder if I’ll get any gory photos. Maybe I can post them on reddit.
Meanwhile, old mate who was driving too fast had wheeled around and driven back to check on me. I could understand 0% of the words he said but I understood that he was worried. Then another three guys were looking over me. One was in his phone.
“Ambulance.” He said.
“Yeah yeah yeah.” Um I mean “Evet, evet.” I said, adrenaline makes you remember things.
Then there were more people. All of them were arguing. They must have thought the old dude had run me over because he turned to me and mimed a car crash. I think he was afriad of being arrested or something because he’d wounded a foreigner. I gave him a thumbs up and he left straight after. I remember thinking he was a jerk. Everyone else started leaving until it was only me and three dudes.
“Ambulance.” They said agin.
“Yeah yeah, good.” Thumbs up again.
Then they started leaving.
“Hey! You just going to leave me here?” I waved my arms about as much I could.
They looked unsure so I kept the pressure on.
“Can’t you just wait 5 minutes.” They didn’t understand any words but they recognised my urgency. One guy came back and sat with me and the others left.
“Ambulance 15 minutes.”
“Yeah, cool.” Thumbs up again.
. . . “Hey you like football?” I asked. Silence and pain have never been the greatest companions.
“Yes. Yes, I like Besiktas.”
“Haha I like Arsenal*.”
I can’t really remember what happened for the next 10minutes but I know I didn’t pass out.
When the ambulance arrived everything got very serious. They strapped me in a neck brace and tied me to a stretcher. I didn’t want it to be all gloomy in the ambulance ride so I said hello to everyone and tried to make some jokes. They didn’t understand but it did trick. We got chatting, a little bit of jumbled English and the rest via a translating app. Paramedics Esre, 26 and Samir, 21.
“Hey Samir can you take a picture of me?” I directed him to my bag. He found the right one and held it up. I said yes in Turkish and they giggled. Then Samir, oblivious to his job, his patient and my pain, placed the bag right on top of my injury.
“OWW, What the hell man. What kind of paramedic are you?” It fucking hurt and I didn’t want to be ride but I guessed he probably wouldn’t understand anyway.
“Oh. pain?” He asked.
“Yeah yeah but it’s ok.” We both laughed – but seriously is there a rookier error he could have made? Fuck man I was bleeding a river out of there ten minutes ago.
The strange thing about being in a stretcher is you can’t see anything but straight up. When we arrived at the hospital I don’t really know what happened. I remember a stressed doctor came in and started pointing at my body parts. I guessed he was checking whether I was in pain anywhere else. More thumbs up. Two nurses came in and stuck needles in my arm – don’t know what – and then the doctor fiddled with my wound. I don’t know if I’d been anaesthetised but I was feeling a lot of pain, particularly when they started stitching me up. Every needle in and out and I wanted to yell and cry and squeeze things but I did none of those. I just held my mouth shut and said hhhrrrrnnrrrnn a lot. No one explained anything because no one in the hospital spoke English.
As soon as I was sewn up and bandaged I was taken in to get an x-Ray. They pointed the machine at my neck and shoulders but I waved my hands and said no. I didn’t wanna pay for x rays. They kept at it so I untied my neck brace and started showing off the flexibility of my neck. They got the idea but still insisted on x-raying my hips. Oh fuck it, may as well I guess. What’s money for anyway.
Once finished my nurse put me back on my stretcher and helped me into a bed. I rested for about half an hour, the doctor came in and gave me my x-rays and a sheet of paper with the number 16,632 strewn across the top – about $8000.
“Everything good.” He said and walked out again. Then my nurse came back in and indicated that I had to leave.
This is when everything hit me. I’ve got no insurance, I owe a Turkish hospital $8000, I have no idea where I am, I can’t contact anyone, I can barely walk and I’m in so much pain I want to vomit. Fuck.
While I was sitting outside thinking about how to rescue myself for this utterly shite situation a nurse came out and tried to talk to me in French. His French was even worse than mine but I understood something like ‘you need to wait for 30minutes so you can get your receipt’. Well what the hell is this thing. I held up the docket. He said something something drugs something something pharmacist. Oh! Haha that’s my prescription. In the end everything – ambulance, x rays, minor surgery and whatever I was injected with – cost only $30.
Alright, that’s one problem down. Now to get . . . Oh hey is that my bike. A ute had pulled up. In the back was a incredulous goat and a bike covered in scratches. The Besiktas fan had come to return my bike. What a guy.
Alright. So now I’ve got a bike, my legs still fucked, I’ve got about $25 left and I’m fucking exhausted. Bryan. I’m sorry Bryan to shackle you with the burdens of a cripple but I don’t know anyone else.
That’s where I am now, Bryan’s house in Antalya, where I started. I had no idea but the hospital was in Korkuteli – about 60km from Antalya. Thanks to a very kind nurse, a confused taxi driver and Bryan’s landlord I managed to get there last night with my bike and all my luggage. It was a massive effort and several times during the journey I thought I was going to faint or vomit from pain and loss of blood but I’m here now and I can sleep.
As for the rest of my holiday I’m not really sure what will happen. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to see it out because of how crippled I am – I can walk but it’s incredibly painful and slow and I need something to hold onto. I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow and depending what they say I’ll probably fly home in the next few days.
*Arsenal and Besiktas recently played in a champions league qualifier. Arsenal won 1-0 over two legs in a tight game. Besiktas played well and probably deserved something out of the game but instead they lost the game, their spot in the champions league and several million dollars.