Travails in India

Fri, 11/17/2017 - 10:45am

The iPhone went off at midnight, and there was a text. “Cindy had a pretty serious mishap the other day. She got near a bull, and he gored her. She had to go to the hospital. She is OK. No internal injuries, but she has a serious gash across her abdomen.” This note was sent by my wife’s travelling partner, Betty. I groggily read the text, then sent a note saying, “I hope she’s OK!!!” Then, I Googled street bulls in India — bad idea — to get some context of what I’d just read. My first thought was, “Cindy, what the hell were you doing near a bull!” The next few days would be a rollercoaster ride.

Cindy and Betty met a few years ago while doing some volunteer work on a trip in Haiti. From there, these two well-met ladies have travelled to Machu Picchu, Turkey, China, Thailand, and India. These women go hard, and take in all they can wherever they go. They use the same tour company for every trip. They have a blast roaming the globe, and then Betty’s husband Dave and I get the lowdown, and look at the pictures, when they get home. This trip to India was a very big deal for my wife. The whole Ganges River thing and the Taj Mahal was front and center on her mind for this trip. Once my wife gets her mind set to go somewhere, she will be on a mission to learn all she can about the country’s literature, food, customs, etc. Then, the bags are packed and she’s off on the adventure.

The goring went like this: In a remote place in India, the tour group stopped to look at something or other. (The day before, the group has visited the Taj Mahal — it was my wife’s birthday.) Cindy was talking with a woman washing clothes by a small river, and then she spotted a guy with a white bull. She walked over to the guy to check out said bull, and he asked her if she wanted a picture taken with him. As Cindy was handing her camera to the guy, a witness saw the bull appear to kneel — she thought the bull was going to kick Cindy. In an instant the bull lunged forward with his horns which struck my wife in the stomach, and sent her flying. She landed on her back with nothing breaking her fall. “I had felt his horns in me,” she said, “but my head hit so hard I feared I had a concussion.” She did have a concussion. The people from the tour rushed to assist her. Fortunately, there was a doctor with the group. The back of the bus essentially became a triage unit; the people on the bus passed Purell, wet wipes, and other material to stem the bleeding and clean the wound. One person actually had some peroxide — bingo!

The medical facility nearby was a very sketchy hovel — the pictures I saw say it all — so just trust me on this one. There was no doctor on duty. There was just “a guy,” according to my wife. This guy was the person who happened to be in charge that day. Cindy’s gaping wound would be tended to, and stitched by this guy. The guy had to go find some thread to stitch the wound. Dr. Joe Benaknin from the tour was monitoring the procedure, and saying through a translator in a loud voice, “You have no gloves?” “This thread is dusty, you must sterilize it!” Dr. Benaknin had to explain to the guy to start stitching from the center of the wound. There was no anesthetic for the procedure, so Cindy was told by the doctor to “breathe when I tell you.” The guy stitched away as my wife grabbed the doctor’s shirt and twisted it into a knot when he said, “breathe.” After Cindy’s goring by the white bull, the tour continued on for an eight-hour bus ride to the town of Khajuraho. Then, there was a two-hour plane ride to Varanasi — a city on the Ganges – where she finally saw a doctor. This was the part of the trip that my wife was all excited about since she was a young kid. She wanted to go to the evening prayer service — which I guess is a big deal. She’d miss this ceremony, but would take a boat ride on the Ganges the next day – of course she would.

At Varanasi, Cindy was taken to a better facility for an MRI and a CT scan. Before the procedure, she was asked “How much money do you have?” Cindy forked over all the American cash she had on her — this information was needed to see if her bowel was pierced. This would not be a good thing — at all. The CT scan showed that muscle tissue prevented the horn tip from piercing her colon. “Do you do yoga,” asked the technician. “Yes, I do,” said Cindy. “Well, it saved you lots of problems,” he said. (My wife dodged a hail of bullets.) Before this trip, I’d said to Cindy, “Now, don’t swim in the Ganges — don’t even dip your toe in the Ganges — and only drink bottled water. And no ice cubes; you’re going to India.” She reminded me that she knew all about drinking water in foreign countries. “I’m the traveler, remember?” “Oh, yeah, right,” I said.

When the ladies returned from Logan we met in the same restaurant that we hit after all of their trips. Cindy had a cool Indian rig on and looked great, as did Betty; however, Betty looked concerned and said directly to me. “She needs to get those stitches checked out right away.” After we got home and played with the dogs, Cindy showed me the wound. I was concerned. We spent all day Sunday in the ER at South County Hospital. The MRI, CT scan, and stitches were all good. I was reminded of what a Malaysian guy from Sydney who was on the tour, Patrick, said to Cindy when they were leaving India. He hugged Cindy and said, “um, this may be the wrong word, but you’re a tough broad.”

I concur, Patrick.