Indonesia 1, Tabitha 0

by Tabitha Kidwell

I have been on such a high the past month or so – to start out, my friends threw me an awesome going away party. Then, I was super excited to finally get to Indonesia and meet people in my program and go see my town! And then, I was really into learning Indonesian and was really feeling like I was picking it up well. I was getting around town on my own, feeling really happy and comfortable here, drinking cobra blood, figuring out the country…

… and then I fell into a hole. Literally. A hole in the sidewalk. We were walking from one part of a restaurant to another at night, and I was walking along the path when the ground suddenly was not where I thought it would be. Luckily, it wasn’t full of water (or anything worse), but it was deep enough that I skinned my knee on its top edge. It was really painful right away, but I was really hungry, so I ate dinner. When it was time to walk home, I was definitely having trouble walking, but I was tired and couldn’t fathom going to the hospital at that moment. So, I took an angkot home, put some ice on it at the hotel, and slept with it elevated on three of the plush hotel pillows, hoping it would feel better in the morning.

It did not. I went to Bahasa Indonesia class but then was having more and more pain with walking. I was worried that it might be broken. I’ve heard there’s not much you can do for a broken foot, but I just wanted to go and see what was going on so I could get it healed as quickly as possible. I need to be able to walk in this country, and a lingering foot injury is just not something I’m interested in. So I asked Astrid, one of the Indonesian people organizing the training, and Iris, a fellow ELF, to come to the hospital with me.

The hotel drove us there, and as soon as we walked in, they put me on a bed and had a triage nurse come examine my foot.

Then we waited.

Then they wheeled me over to radiology and took some x-rays.

And we waited.

And then a doctor came with the x-rays and gave the good news: no broken bones!

Though he did tell me I had fat bones – a little insensitive at a time like this. I felt a little silly that I had dragged everyone to the hospital and couldn’t even produce a broken bone for their trouble, but I was glad it was just soft tissue injuries. Some was lost in translation, but what I understood was that I sprained both my inner and outer ankle and bruised the 5th metatarsal bone (just above the base of my little toe). I think I must have landed on the outer side of my foot, twisted my ankle that way, then I must have fallen to the other side of the hole, skinned my knee, and twisted my foot the other way to sprain the inner ankle. Quite a showing on my part.

So now I am hobbling around, feeling embarrassed and silly. I have been shown in no uncertain terms that I am NOT the rock star I thought I was, and that I have a lot I still need to learn about life in this country. Like looking at the ground when walking at night. And asking for help when I needed it. It literally brought tears to my eyes to say the words “I need help” to my friends. I like to think of myself as an independent person who can take care of myself, but I would have had no hope of getting to the hospital and communicating anything about my condition. Ok, I could have said. Saya jatuh. Saya bodoh. (I fell. I’m dumb.) but that would have been it. Even though I would have known exactly what to do in the US, I am back at square one here. It’s been a humbling experience, but I guess if you are at the top, you have nowhere to grow.

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