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  1. #1
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    Ken May's Avatar
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    My letter to the world from my hospital bed

    " I thank my very good friend Serge from cozun.com who helped me write, compose and publish this thread "

    --- Ken May’s letter to the world, August 17th 2008 ---

    The stagnant black water canals of Bangkok always left me feeling a void, which was why I ditched the modern capital city of Thailand and moved up country to teach at a small elementary school. Back here in ‘my’ Ayutthaya, the water still has life; it moves more graciously and can be navigated with ease. I quickly became a motion junky after my return, finding a nice Thai-style house next to the Menam Lopburi River.

    My first investment was a Kayak which I used to explore most canals and rivers in the city, even trailing the biggest part of the Lopburi River from beginning to end. But I needed yet even more sway, so I also purchased a bicycle to explore auxiliary temples, while further inland yet still part of and belonging to the ancient capital of Siam. I set out to find these temples, mostly deserted at present times, on a daily basis, while in chorus learning new ways to get around the city too. It sort of became a hunt, tracking down relics of ancient, past and current Buddhist congregation spots.

    And it was this exact motion on lard that got me in trouble one beautiful Saturday morning. I was serenely biking between Wat Sam Wiham and the Elephant Kraal - 5 minutes from my home – when a speeding motorcycle tried to bypass me. There was no warning, I only briefly detected a flash, a snap of a green vest as the motorcycle-taxi driver clipped my handlebars, twisting me straight to the pavement. The ache in my back came instantly. Worse, I could situate the pain in my spine. I crawled to the side of the road on all fours – no, on threes actually - like a battered street dog. In the gravity of the event, adrenaline bestowed me with enough strength to call a friend, and then lingered. Meanwhile a crowd gathered, opportunistic vendors sold ice cream, a policeman drove by oblivious of the situation. The culprit motorcycle driver, who had bizarrely stayed to proclaim his blamelessness, took off after some time. Blur.

    In the hospital, I lay in the worst pain I could ever think of. The spine as it is, is a bundle of nerves, a highway collecting information from all parts and extremities of the body, which’s itinerary is right away to the brain, and the inflicted damage to that route is different than anything you can imagine or experience by being ‘hurt’.

    The surgeon informed me that I had a severely compacted and fractured vertebra (one vertebra, two vertebrae). In fact if the designed and/or adjacent vertebrae had moved some more by a fraction of a tiny measurement unit in any direction I would have been paralyzed – talk about luck! He explained that intensive and very complicated surgery would be required, and that it could take weeks before I walked again. I would need to wear a back-brace for at least six months. Biking and of course boating were both out of the question. I had become a man without motion. Any shift led to soreness, including breathing. Clearly, you can picture all the bleak thoughts about how I could free my life from this twinge and lack of mobility. I though gravely about it and made plans.

    During the next four days, waiting for surgery (yes, you read correctly), I was positioned horizontally as muscle spasms were shaking my body. Still, that is when friends started to arrive. My work colleagues and other pals brought me milk and juice boxes. Thai companions gave me sweets, flowers and soymilk, and offered to spend the night.

    I was told that a four-page thread was started on ajarn.com about my accident. There was a lot of support. At least seventy people visited me before surgery and my phone rung all day. For this reason I decided to ride the experience out and survive. The muscle spasms at night were the worst. I felt like a turtle with a ripped off shell. I never slept more than fifteen minutes at a time, even with all the heavy medication that sedated me. My temperature spiked, fever was sporadic, my mind wandered all over the place - I even contemplated getting married, I started to fall in love with the nurses that gave me daily sponge baths (at least some part of me is still animated).

    When the surgery arrived I welcomed it. A three hours performance, a lot of blood was lost in the process. But a large group of friends were waiting in my room when they wheeled me off before the intervention and that lifted my spirit. There was someone to go back to when finished.

    I woke from surgery, again in agony, thus on morphine for the next three days. Visitors and mobile phones were banned; I laid in isolation in the intensive care unit’s section. There I was, thinking about existence and day to day tasks like eating soup, showering and washing hair, even only going to the bathroom, or picking up a pencil. I was no longer autonomous; I needed people’s help for most undertakings. Yet, even after the operation friends volunteered. They gathered supplies from my home, filled out police reports, and made inquiries about insurance policies and potentials.

    My life right now is somewhat puerile. I am only capable of two activities: roll to the left and roll to the right. After many days out of the surgical treatment I cannot stand up, but I trust in a few days I will witness some positive revealing. Even so, now I am also receiving some physical therapy, with a brace and two nurses. I was able to sit several days ago, then later on stood, and a day or two after walked a little, just enough to be able to reach the fridge and if I was you, could have grabbed a beer if there had been one. At that point, it took a week to accomplish it this far. Each day I improve my trip by a step or two. This is not yet routine, most of my time is spent in bed, but these five minutes long moments sustain me and make my day a better one. I crave for these improvements and openings on a daily basis. Progress will be slow I am aware of it, and even if a prospect of quite a few weeks in the hospital is inevitable, I still consider myself fortunate. I anticipate my leave from this place sooner than later and expect to progressively regain my movement abilities previous to this exasperating halt.

    With hard times ahead, and the assertive recognition of the assistance I am bestowed and will necessitate, this is a lesson for someone who conducted an unconstrained life the way I did. Life doesn’t need so much travel and motion. The perspective and value of life comes significantly from your connections to other people. My back-brace only offers physical support, it is love, compassion and friendship that really helps someone to move.

    Yours,
    Ken May.

  2. #2
    I am in Jail
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    oh goodness, i didnt realise mate. good luck in getting better.

  3. #3
    On a walkabout
    Loy Toy's Avatar
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    I expect that many of us here sincerely wish you a quick and complete recovery.

    Just watched a story on TV about an Aussie cyclist that just won a silver medal after breaking her neck in an accident less than 1 year ago.

    A firstly tragic event that turned into a real life personal achievement.

    Good luck mate and keep your spirits high.

  4. #4
    I am in Jail
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    I hope you have good medical insurance and sufficient funds to get by.

    Best wishes.

  5. #5
    Thailand Expat jandajoy's Avatar
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    Good luck mate. But, concentrate on getting better. Don't worry about the postings.

  6. #6
    Thailand Expat
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken May
    Thai companions gave me sweets, flowers and soymilk, and offered to spend the night.
    Lucky git
    Quote Originally Posted by Ken May
    I started to fall in love with the nurses that gave me daily sponge baths
    Hospital doesn't sound too bad

    Anyway I hope your up and about soon although wondering where you are going to live as your house isn't really suitable for someone in a back brace, nearly the rainy season as well.

    Hello Serge

  7. #7
    Thailand Expat jandajoy's Avatar
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    Is this genuine ????

  8. #8
    I am in Jail
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    ^ It appears so, despite the ostentatious first line.

  9. #9
    I am in Jail

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    It wouldnt be genuine if it wasnt ostentatious.

  10. #10
    punk douche bag
    ChiangMai noon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jandajoy
    Is this genuine ????
    dear me.


    all the very best ken may, not a lot to add really.

  11. #11
    Thailand Expat
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    well, also despite the rather florid prose, but he can blame that on the pain

    but get well soon, sounds very nasty

  12. #12
    My kind of town
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    all the best

  13. #13
    I am in Jail
    Smeg's Avatar
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    ^^ Sure, a half-page to the point summary would have been nicer to read.

  14. #14
    I am in Jail

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    and a commercial message from his sponsor. what next?

  15. #15
    Thailand Expat jandajoy's Avatar
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    ^^^ I'm sure OP feels a lot better for reading that.

  16. #16
    Thailand Expat jandajoy's Avatar
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    I've been advised that this is 100% genuine..

    Good luck to you mate, get well.

  17. #17
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    Fabian's Avatar
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    Hope you get well soon, Ken.

  18. #18
    I am in Jail
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    I hope you have quick recovery, If you get a chance what hospital are you in? Aek, Wattana, Paolo, or Military. Been in all 4.


    Again best of luck, I hope your mates drop in often I know what its like being solitary!!

  19. #19
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    Best wishes and a speedy recovery!

  20. #20
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    best wishes hope u get well soon

  21. #21
    I am in Jail

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    Never met you, but hope you get well soon so you can have one of these with your buds. I can arrange to have the motocyc driver flogged if you like.


  22. #22
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    Best wishes for getting back on your feet soon. I'm glad for all the support your friends have given you.

    A horrible thing to happen, but I don't know if there is any 'moral' apart from have proper health insurance. You got out there, and explored some of the real Thailand, had many good times I'm sure. That sure beats staying at home watching your favourite western soap, or propping up a bar with other like minded farangs and moaning about Thailand.
    probes Aliens

  23. #23
    I don't know barbaro's Avatar
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    Ken,

    Best of luck and I hope for a full recovery.

    Keep us posted.

  24. #24
    Thailand Expat

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    How do you take a shit?

  25. #25
    Elite Mumbler
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrsquirrel
    How do you take a shit?
    I would think with all the morphine and demerol in his system that problem doesn't come up very much. That stuff bungs you right up.
    Get well soon.

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