J-Ro BAMF's Traveling Adventure Blog

One bad ass chick on one bad ass journey

Mental Trauma From my Head Trauma and the Path of Healing in Luang Prabang October 31, 2010

Filed under: head injury,Laos — jrobamf @ 11:23 am

Stitches are out!!!

As much as I would have liked to never see the inside of the hospital in Vientiene again, alas I had to return to get my horrible stitches taken out and make sure I was healing up without infection. It had been about 10 days since I had been traumatized by the hospital and it was a long 10 days of trying to keep the wound dry and clean when its hotter than hades and feels like a sauna. I left Luang Prabang and went straight from the bus station to the hospital not knowing what kind of new trauma I was about to experience. I was able to get the stitches out relatively easy without having to exchange too much English and lots of sign language. When he showed me the gauze that was sewn into the stitches it was about the nastiest looking thing I had ever seen. He removed the stitches and I took a picture of the top of my head so I could get a first look at this gash on top of my dome. It didn’t look pretty but it wasn’t as grotesque as I imagined……yet!

Ewwww, that was sewn into my stitches for the past 2 weeks. Give it up for 3rd world health care

There was a little concern for me because I could press gently on the top of my head along where the skin was closed together and there was definitely a pocket of fluid under the skin. It didn’t feel right and I had no idea if it was normal, good, dangerous or who knows?!?! But I needed to find out to reassure myself. Now trying to get a doctor who spoke enough English to reassure me was an entirely new challenge. I went in search of the doctor who gave me the CT scan on my first visit because his English was mediocre. After much signaling and gesturing to the nurses, I was ushered back into the “Emergency Room” if you could call it that. A number of people were pressing on the fluid pocket and speaking Laos as my panic was rising. They sent in a young man who they claimed was also a doctor but very little English skills. As they lay me down on and came towards my head with a syringe, the tears start flowing because I way FREAKING OUT! All they could say was “no cry” and try to calm me as this doctor is doing who knows what to the top of my head and pressing out all this blood mixed fluid. When he finished, I took another picture of the top of my head and it looked about 10 times worse.

why does it look so much worse now?

I was shaking and scared to death they didn’t know what they were doing so I quickly gathered my things and went out to the street and cried for a bit. It was mentally and emotionally exhausting getting medical treatment when you cant communicate. I wouldn’t wish this stress on anyone.

I couldn’t stand the idea of staying in this town that had been the location of so much stress for me so I hopped the afternoon bus back to Vang Vieng because at least I could go relax at the Family Guy bars and get my mental state back to a good place. I wanted to see a bit of the natural beauty Vang Vieng had to offer.

my purple eye that appeared 2 weeks after the injury

Over night I had developed a purple eye as a delayed reaction from my head injury and was looking a bit rough. I decided to rent a bike and go off on my own to the cave and lagoon a couple miles out of town. The ride out was absolutely stunning with majestic limestone cliffs and bright green rice patty fields. The road was pretty bumpy and the bike I had wasn’t exactly ideal for the ride but I just went slow and enjoyed the views. When I finally made it out to the river/lagoon, they had a swimming area with a little rope swing that I wouldn’t be able to enjoy. I was however able to get in and enjoy the cool waters up to my neck. The hike up to the cave was a bit more strenuous than I originally thought but me being me wasn’t about to sit it out because of a concussion since I had made the journey all the way out there. I just made sure to go slowly and make sure I had good footing and hand holds.

the lagoon outside the caves in Vang Vieng

When I got inside the cave, it was HUGE inside. You could go really deep and far into it and I had brought my headlamp so I explored it the best I could without risking another injury where I wouldn’t have any help getting out. In the bottom of the cave where you had to climb down in to see, there was a giant laying gold Buddha that was quite beautiful.

cave exploring….with a concussion

I spent one night in town and then headed back to Luang Prabang where I had been communicating a possibility of volunteering at a hostel for free room and a chance to just to rest my head and stay in a good place in Laos. With my stubborn streak I acquired from my mother I didn’t want to waste a $30 visa in less I had to and since I appeared to be nothing more than concussed, I decided to stay in Luang Prabang for 2 weeks. I stayed at the hostel and made breakfast for the backpackers every morning and just did my natural vibe of socializing and getting people involved. I met so many cool travelers.

trek to the waterfall in the rain

But, unfortunately, I met a guy from Laguna Beach, who chose to introduce himself as a guy from the town where the TV show “Laguna Beach” was filmed. AS IF I DON’T FUCKING KNOW. What. A DOUCHBAG. So he insisted on telling everyone who came to the hostel that I was from the same place. NO NO NO, we are not even from the same world. He was giving me the worst rep! I wanted nothing more then to distance myself from him.

I had the best time spending my 2 weeks in Luang Prabang. I woke up at 5 am at least 3 times to watch the procession of monks accepting rice donations from the town people. I went to the Red Cross sauna for about $.50 and sweated out all my toxins and got a massage. I went on some tours with guests from the hostel when helping to plan sightseeing for them. One memorable trek was with one other guy and it was so rainy and muddy and we were slipping and sliding all over the place in the mud. It was a trek around the backside of the same waterfall I had already been to but it took a few hours and it was beautiful and through the jungle.

offering to the monks each morning

We were a mess by the time we finished but it was an incredible journey. I went to another waterfall with another group of travelers and ended up going way off the trail to a secluded swimming hole up river. It was another mess getting there sliding on our bums down slopes and pulling on vines to get back out.

Celebrating birthdays for a night out with the hostel

I joined in on most group activities, which would include anything from cooking classes to celebrating someone’s birthday by going to the local nightclub. I spent a lot of time just hanging out with the staff learning how to make simple Lao dishes and cleaning up or chatting it up at the hostel. It was such a relaxing and low stress environment that it was easy to forget about all the drama around my head and let the lightheaded feelings pass as the concussion went faded away. My hair was starting to grow back but I stayed fashionable by wearing a ton of bandanas and headbands to accessorize my funky hairdo. As I healed my visa was running out and it was about time for me to head to Thailand for my next adventure, volunteering at a home stay in northeast Thailand.

cooking class learning to make laab


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