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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Broken Leg

About a week or so into our month-long travels in China in 1992 we were in Kunming, which had many delights for tourists to explore. One day we decided to take a trip to see the famous ‘Petrified Forest’ about 120 km away and took the local tour bus soon to find we were the only ‘foreigners’ aboard.
After a couple of hours we made a stop to visit one of the huge caves in the area. It was dimly lit with some strings of Christmas tree lights and as I was attempting to videotape the whole scene - without warning - I suddenly found myself falling into a gaping hole. I must have shrieked in fright and pain because I soon found myself surrounded by a group of fellow travelers who pulled me out. One of them seemed knowledgeable and gently examined the bruised and bleeding leg and, with a quick jerk, straightened my ankle. Another burly fellow piggybacked me up the long stairs out of the cave and into the bus.
It was a very long day for us with no way of communicating so I was immensely relieved when we finally got back to our hotel and could talk to the Manager. He sent us by cab to the hospital and I finally found myself on a gurney being wheeled through the halls - an experience in itself!
X-rays revealed I had cracked the big femur bone but the leg was so swollen that, instead of a cast, the Doctor plastered the area with a vile looking paste, splinted and bound it. After a couple of days we managed to charter a small plane to take us to Chengdu where a colleague, who had been a visiting professor at my University, met us.
At that time, all hotels seemed to have Doctors in their service who would come to your room and were paid a small sum for each visit. Our hotel had a retired army doctor who, thankfully, soon took off the plaster poultice that was so itchy it was driving me crazy and proceeded to massage the leg from top to bottom a couple of times every day. It was extremely painful but I figured he had been trained to get wounded soldiers back in the lines to fight again as
soon as possible and that the the poultice and message were to increase circulation to do just that. I was willing to take the suffering to to get back on my feet again and be able to use the rest of our precious time in China to travel.
The Chinese methods worked! Miraculously I was able to walk with crutches without much discomfort in less than 2 weeks and we culminated our trip by walking the Great Wall of China. Fortunately too, I was so mobile we could continue our planned trip around the world that year. I for one am convincedc we could learn much from Chinese methods of treating fractures!! Rie

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