One Year Ago Today I Nearly Died











I know that sounds incredibly melodramatic - but it’s the truth.

If you haven’t heard the story before; allow me to explain:

In May 2012, myself and another friend went to visit our mutual uni friend who now lives in Vietnam. 2 weeks of sun and adventure in the (for me at least) hitherto unexplored East.

And it was all going well for the first 5 days; sure the flight was long and the weather was even hotter than I had planned for - but on the Sunday morning we arrived, I was on the G&T by about half 9 in the morning, and we spent the whole day recuperating around the pool.

The next few days let us explore Ho Chi Minh further - including a memorable trip to the War Museum {if it wasn’t for what follows, I would still be having nightmares about the not nearly infamous enough ‘Agent Orange’ used by the Americans during the Vietnam War}.

And then a few days later we decided to embark on a bike ride in the middle of the country, near Đà Nẵng.

And so it was, that around lunchtime on the first leg of our ride, I forgot everything I learned from cycling proficiency at school, and decided to pass a slower group of cyclists on the right, without accounting for the huge truck on my left-hand side.

At the moment I realised my mistake, it was too late.

Fortunately (and believe me there was a lot of luck involved); I didn’t go completely under the wheel of the truck; and what did was 'only’ my middle.

Fast forward an hour, and I’m in the local Đà Nẵng Family Medical practice, with my uni friend frantically contacting my insurance company, so I can be seen to.

I’m told that the doctor of the practice [Dr Christopher - I am in your debt] had never seen a case as bad as mine (he was just a GP remember), but he managed to get me stable and get me back and forth from the main hospital for some key scans.

Those first two days were pretty sketchy - no doubt down to the amount of drugs I was on - but, at one particularly memorable moment, I did begin to imagine that this was the end of the line:

As I was told afterwards, there was a fight between the local insurance agency, and the company back in the UK - the locals wanted me to be treated in Vietnam - the UK wanted me somewhere better:

I spent the scariest hour of my life in Đà Nẵng General (a hospital which didn’t even operate air conditioning despite the sweltering heat), alone in a room with my stomach covered in pre-surgery markings - they were getting ready to operate on me - even though my UK insurance people wanted me out of Vietnam to a better facility.

Suffice to say, the operation didn’t happen - I’m pretty certain my quality of life if it had, would have been greatly diminished.

Instead, thanks to the efforts of my friends, Đà Nẵng Family Medical and the UK insurance team, I was airlifted to Bangkok.

Probably the only time I’ll ever fly on a 6-seater private plane; and probably the most comfortable I’ll ever fly full stop.

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Anyway (to speed towards my conclusions); I spent two weeks in Bangkok International - with two looping (English!) movie channels in my private room to keep me company - before returning to the UK via Heathrow, up to Leeds General Infirmary where I was finally operated on and to this day have a metal screw supporting my pelvis, which - disappointingly - won’t likely set off airport alarms.

But I still have the scars to prove it.

=

And so to the point of this blog:

I nearly died a year ago; and I am infinitely grateful to everyone who prevented that.

But what did it change in my life?

You hear about people who go through life-threatening experiences, and coming out of them a changed person.

Now although it was a serious incident; I came through relatively unscathed - no evident lasting effects (though I’m not keen on anything on 2 wheels - at least for a while!); and although painful - there isn’t any ongoing trauma.

So I don’t group myself in with anyone who has undergone a longer term illness - I am eternally thankful for the low impact this whole experience had on my well-being.

And so I find myself sat here wondering if I should have changed more? Shouldn’t a brush with death give me more vigour for life? Shouldn’t I be springing out of bed every morning, singing along with the dawn chorus?

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In some respects, this wasn’t the only life-changing experience I had in the last year.

I wonder if the emotional roller-coaster of the former diverted my attention from my latter physical aches and pains.

I remember just before I went into surgery in LGI - after signing a form acknowledging that stuff could still go wrong - thinking how lucky I had been; not just to survive the past few weeks relatively unscathed - but to have experienced falling in love with someone, and having my eyes opened to something special.

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I suppose I have resolved to change a few things in my life; being single is still great, 95% of the time. My friends seem oddly thankful that I’m still around(!) and time spent with friends is always to be cherished.

But there is that creeping 5% at the back of my mind that reminds me there is something more to be had.

And I don’t think my accident put that information there - it had already been planted a few months before.

All I know is that I will have to return to Vietnam - to continue my adventures, with less-to-zero incidents this time.

But I should also continue my adventures here.

And so it is important to recognise that I had that brief encounter with death; I won that argument with that truck; I got very very lucky, and - thanks to a group effort that I could only lie down and react to - I’ve been given a chance to continue.

Player One has One Life remaining.

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