As you may have guessed from my previous post, we’ve had to cut our trek in the Annapurna Region short. Scarlett had a nasty fall. She’s OK but it turns out that she has fractured her lower right leg in two places. One small, one larger.
We were four days into our trip and at least 5-6 hours hard walk from the nearest dirt road (probably a lot more carrying Scarlett). From there, if we could find a 4×4, it would be another half days drive to Pokhara. And to complicate matters, there was a general strike on so no public transport or taxis were running.
It was already getting on in the day when she had her accident so would have taken two days at least to get to hospital so our insurance arranged for a helicopter evacuation. They’re also paying for a private hospital room that’s big enough for all 5 of us to sleep in. I guess all that tedious insurance shopping was worth it.
It was all very chaotic what with looking after a very pained and frightened Tettie, a tearful Janet and two alternately bored and worried sisters, carrying Tettie up to a local lodge and then the helicopter landing field, finding someone with a phone that could make international calls, ringing the insurance company, waiting for them to authorise a helicopter and organise one to be dispatched, paying off our porter, repacking all our clothes and gear for our separate return journeys.
We had to repack because Initially the insurance company said only one adult and Tettie could be airlifted out. Scarlet wanted her mummy with her so I was going to walk back with Evie and Jem and our porter. Not ideal but I was just glad Scarlett would get treatment quickly, and we’d soon be reunited in Pokhara. But when the helicopter arrived, the pilot asked how many we were. I held up five fingers and he motioned for us all to pile in. Who was I to question him?
As it turns out, it was very lucky that we stayed together.
The flight was very exiting, high above the Himalayas in a tiny chopper, buffeted by side winds, terraced hillsides below us. Which is why, I think, we didn’t realise until we were over the city that we hadn’t been evacuated to Pokhara at all… but to Kathmandu!
Good for hospital care. Slightly awkward in that all out non-trekking gear was in left luggage at our Pokhara hotel.
Anyway, Tettie is getting great treatment here. She was rushed straight from the helipad to the emergency room and then onto x-ray. Initially she was in quite a lot of pain but it is lessening daily. They put a half cast on when she arrived because her leg was still swollen. But when the swelling goes down, hopefully tomorrow or the day after, they’ll put a cast on her whole leg right up to the hip and give her crutches. She’ll have to keep that on for 6 weeks, then have it replaced with a cast below the knee for a further 6 weeks. Three months of being in plaster!
Despite that, we are hoping to keep travelling around Asia, although there is some question as to whether the insurance company will keep insuring Tettie if she’s in plaster and what follow-up treatment she’ll be entitled to. We have flights to Sri Lanka booked for December 7th so that gives us enough time for the 3 weeks of initial rest the surgeons are prescribing if we do carry on. Then back on the road.
As soon as she’s discharged, we’re planning to get out of Kathmandu. It’s no place for kids at the best of times but with one child immobile and two others bouncing around it would be impossible. There’s nowhere to play, the traffic is terrifying, there’s often no pavements (and those three are are littered with rubble, rubbish and mangy stray dogs), and everything here costs money. Instead, we want to go back to the guesthouse near Chitwan National Park where we stayed for nearly three weeks. It’s all flat, there’s no real traffic except elephants and there lots of space. Sure, there’s also only one restaurant and nothing much to do but we did love it there. Of course Scarlett won’t be able to join in with elephant bath time this time but she says she’s ok with that.
And we have to somehow get our luggage from Pokhara (a 7-8 hours bumpy bus journey away!) as we only have warm trekking clothes and boots with us and it’s sweltering here in Kathmandu.
Anyway, wherever we end up, I’ve promised we’ll read Tettie stories, do drawing and maths, play chess and maybe buy a ukulele to learn chords on. She’s also very excited about learning to use crutches. I think she’s taking it better than I am. Both Janet and I feel terribly guilty.
As for what we’ll do in Sri Lanka, I have no idea. The next leg of our trip was supposed to be all about swimming and playing on beaches. Not something you can do in a pot. I guess one of us will sit with Tettie while the other plays with the other two. And we can still go whale and dolphin watching.
But that’s too far in the future to think about right now. At the moment, we’re just trying to get Scarlett better and deal with the shock of our sudden change of circumstances.