A couple of the boys from Rico's place came to see me yesterday. Since the toe issue, I haven't been as mobile as I usually am so not having seen me propping up their bar at Rum & Coke time for a few weeks, they decided to ride down and see how I was getting on, and get one of my increasingly famous ice creams each for which they very decently swapped a bottle of scotch.
I promised the Fifth Columnist I would not display any more gory photos on the blog but I am sure he will indulge me this, hopefully, last time.
I suppose I have become a bit blasé about injury confident, as I have always been, that if you survive the first couple of hours, you're probably going to be OK. Pain, to me, is something to be borne rather than complained about.
In my last fight my opponent broke my nose and a couple of ribs in the first round. In the last, I broke a bone in my hand returning the compliment. Afterwards, both of us were loaded into the same ambulance and taken to hospital. I was most of the way through training at Sandhurst and knew that if I took the medical ticket, I would be back termed and have to do it all again so I made damn sure I passed my medical knowing that any drop in the standard of my performance due to injury would not be considered a valid excuse. It was called 'Soldiering On' in those days.
I was burned in
I had my fingers chopped off in
I bust my ankles on the Nurburgring when I highsided a Ducati. By then I was self employed and no, my personal injury insurance did not cover motorcycle racing. Every day I spent in hospital was costing me my savings. Every day I wasn't in the shop selling 'bikes, I was losing income so four days later, I was hobbling around on crutches doing what I did best in those days (certainly better than racing 'bikes), flogging motorcycles. I even sold my trashed Dainese leathers for twice the sticker price to a client who clearly wanted to pretend he was a motorcycling hero. I didn't care, I had just tossed a 'bike worth 25 grand down a track comprehensively destroying it so I needed to make up the bottom line.
In Moçambique I was contracted to clear a road from Quelimane to
I was on a 'Juice in, Smarties out' run to Lucapa in North East Angola during the war. A juice in, smarties out run was where I flew in a Beechcraft to one of the Diamond buying offices up country bringing the buyers cash to by more diamonds (juice) and to carry the diamonds they had bought out (the smarties). This time it didn't go so smoothly and by the time I had managed to pull the door of the aircraft closed and the fans where spinning for a shortfield, downwind take off, some of my guts had spilled out into my boxer shorts as a result of quite a nasty stab wound that missed the one organ I really cared about by only a matter of inches. Instead of electing to be flown back to Jo,burg, I allowed myself to be operated on in an Angolan clinic and 24 hours later walked out of it, minus my handmade brogues which had been nicked while I was under the knife.
I came out of
I had my first heart attack and when I woke up, alarmingly in the same clinic of which I had so many horrible memories, I unhooked myself from the drips and monitors and had made it barefoot half way down the Ilha before hospital security staff caught up with me and brought me back in handcuffs.
I had another contract in Uganda to dismantle an oil rig, load it onto a three hundred and fifty tonne barge which had to be assembled from bits arriving by the truckload from America by the side of Lake Albert accessible by roads that I had to build and serviced by light aircraft landing on a runway I had to build. Bilharzias is endemic to
Once again, I left an African country desperately sick and a fraction of my normal weight but went straight back to
For the three years I worked for a Private Military Company I took only three weeks leave. I took no leave at all while on the
Pushing the envelope of physical tolerance that far I suppose it was hardly surprising that I would keel over in a site office with another heart attack. Lying there in that same Gottverdammte clinic strapped up to drips and monitors did make me wonder, ever so briefly, whether the salary they were paying me was worth it. So I unhooked myself and walked out.
I am not a rich man by any means. I am not even comfortably well off. I don't even have a debit card anymore. If I flew to
As a contractor, my income was sometimes spectacular but generally irregular and not something a spouse bereft of patience could count on for her fair share of in the future, ad infinitum. So skilful lawyers always concentrated on something far more concrete, my assets. In my time I have signed over three houses, furniture, cars and objets d'art. I have to admire the lawyer’s arguments. While recognising that my income was erratic, they averaged out what I had earned during the relationship and projected that forward to a highly optimistic retirement age of sixty five. Then, as a concession sympathetically received by the court, admitting that all this poor woman required was a degree of security representing only a fraction of my projected future earnings best satisfied by the liquidation of my current assets. The courts graciously allowed me to keep all my future earnings in exchange for all my current assets.
Twice I have walked away clad only in the clothes on my back and a half empty rucksack. I have slept in ditches and beneath starlit skies scarred only by the branches of the trees beneath which I was resting. I have taken comfort where I could find it and have even paid for it and felt no shame.
So perhaps it isn’t so surprising that something as minor as an irritating little snake bite would do no more than, well, irritate me. Actually, I lie. It annoyed me beyond belief. After everything I have been through, after everything I have done, don’t I deserve a decent break? I have built and opened the new shop. I have built and moved the family into the new cottage. The build of the new restaurant and cottages is cracking on. And now I was to die horribly of a snake bite while engaged in something as innocuous as walking across my garden to switch the generator off? Well, Fuck You, whoever you are in charge of the Greater-Scheme-of-Things, I won’t. Not until I see the whole business up and running. Only then can you come and get me and contract me to widen the highway to Hell and sort out an improved calorific return for burning souls.
‘Let’s have a look at the toe, then,’ my visitors implored, helping themselves to my present of scotch.
‘Eek!’ they said when I showed them.
That’s when they gave me their other present, John Visser’s and David Schapman’s book entitled ‘Snakes and Snake Bite’ subtitled ‘Venomous Snakes and Management of Snakebite in
After they left, I had a quick scan through it and decided I had been bitten by a juvenile Puff Adder. Clearly, that's what they reckoned too as they had 'dog-eared' the appropriate page.
|Looking at the blisters, I can see a resemblence here.|
The thing that concerns me is that the poor bastard's índex finger in the top photo was amputated SIX months after the bite!
This begs the question: How long does it take to recover?
|It's all in the mind, though. Don't you think that looks much better?|
And I was no burden on the local health service.
I will lose the nail but, so what? They grow back better than amputated toes.
I think I still have a way to go. I finished typing this post, uploaded it and then looked down at my foot. This is what had oozed out of it while I was typing... I'm really pissed off about the substandard finish of the floor.
|Trust me. If you can possibly avoid it, don't get bitten by a snake, even a baby one.|
You know the instant relief you feel when an inflamed boil finally bursts or is lanced by a sadistic nurse?
Well that's how I feel now.