Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,Humpty Dumpty had a great fall;All the king’s horses and all the king’s menCouldn’t put Humpty together again.-Mother Goose
It was a good thing I stayed conscious because I quickly realized that the two young men staffing the ambulance had no idea what they were doing. Kailash was there – he was speaking Hindi with urgency in his voice. The ambulance was bare inside. I told the drivers to take me to a private hospital. The road was bumpy and I could feel every bump through my leg. When we got there they hadn’t rolled me out when a doctor took a look at me, talked to Kailash and the ambulance doors closed.
“What’s going on?” I asked.
“They are so weird about taking in foreigners here, but don’t worry.” Kailash said as he held my hand. Another bumpy ride and I was rolled out and put into some open room: the government hospital. The police came to ask details of what had happened and the doctors there cleaned out my wound by pouring some liquid on it. It was incredibly painful. Despite all this I really needed to relieve myself and at one point that was my most pressing issue. They sent lady nurses in with a catheter – I didn’t know what was happening and no one was talking. I suddenly felt fingers and tubes were inside of me. The lady nurses walked out just as quickly. There were all these men surrounding me and I felt helpless. To describe the experience as dehumanizing would be putting it nicely.
“Kailash, you have to tell them that I am American and I have insurance. Take me to the private hospital please, tell them to take me back there. I can pay whatever, please just don’t leave me here,” I pleaded, sobbing.
The doctors at the government hospital, who I’m pretty sure were drunk, finally placed the call to the Himalayan Institute, the hospital that had originally turned me down. They told them they didn’t have the necessary tools to perform surgery and off I was again into the bumpy ambulance, catheter in tow.
Upon arrival they took x-rays. The private hospital was a medical college and on again to a cold metal table with medical students who don’t know bedside manner or English, lifting my injured leg any which way. I cried throughout the ordeal.
I was then taken to a room with six other patients, all of which were wailing in misery. “Is this where I’m going to spend the night?” I asked the attending doctor who spoke perfect English.
“Yes, tomorrow the team of orthopedic surgeons will visit you and tell you what their recommendations are. You will need surgery. You have an open wound fracture and the risk of infection is great but the doctors will come and explain it tomorrow. Try to get some rest.”
I asked to move to a private room, my American privilege and wealth clearly articulated. It was after 3 a.m. I knew better than to think I would sleep that night, but in the quiet of my own room my chances were better. Jen, you’re going to be okay. You’re in a hospital. The worst is over. I comforted myself with those words that night. Kailash spent the night in the extra bed in the room and left to pick up his motorcycle in the morning.
I sent word to my ashram and Nick’s ashram of my whereabouts. I don’t know what felt greater, my relief at the sight of the ambulance on the mountain or the relief at seeing Nick walk through the hospital room door carrying my belongings.
An IV attached to my arm and soft cast holding my right leg together, I must have looked a mess. “Can I hug you?” My heart melted and I told him everything. “You’re not your body, Jen. Maybe this happened so that you could learn that,” Nick said.
The doctors came in and explained the surgery. I would have a titanium rod inserted through my tibia which was fractured. I would be able to walk without assistance again in 3 – 6 months. I would need to stay in the hospital for at least ten days so they could administer antibiotics because of my open fracture. I was so grateful that Nick was there. An attorney by profession, he read through the insurance and hospital documents. He asked the doctors all the questions I didn’t have the presence of mind to at the time. He comforted me and held my hand as I was wheeled into the operating room. He kissed my forehead and the next thing I knew I was singing songs in a room with a bunch of anesthesiologists while they asked me if I can feel the pinpricks on my thighs.
Awake in the post operating room. I kept expecting Nick to walk in but instead Kailash does. For whatever reason at that time I associated him with the negative experience from the night before. While I was doped up on painkillers, he caressed my face with too much familiarity and told me he had brought his parents to see me. “Now’s not a good time to meet your parents,” I responded curtly. I started to feel on guard, anxious and suddenly very upset, so much so I started crying.
“Kailash, go away. I don’t want to see you! Leave, just leave me alone! I was fine until you came!!”
I took the incident as another sign that he was bad news. Suddenly, it was HIS fault that this accident had happened. It was HIS fault that I wouldn’t walk for three months. I told the nurses not to let him near me again. I don’t know if they understood me in my half conscious state.
The next morning they finally allowed me to drink water and move into my private room. There was a knock at my door shortly after my arrival there and in walks in Kailash. “It’s so weird, I kept asking for you by your name and they said you weren’t here.”
I said nothing. “How are you my sweet? What can I bring you? Are you okay? How do you feel?”
It was as though I had no choice but to let things unfold as they would. I couldn’t summon the energy to play a lead character or try to control the scene anymore. I felt so tired. I just wanted to lie on my bed and watch things happen, as though everything was a fever dream.
Kailash seldom left my side whether I liked it or not. I was grateful for his help but something felt off with him. First, he started to get even more familiar, and not in a good way; trying to kiss me in my hospital bed, I kept turning my cheek and asking him to stop, to treat me as though I was his sister. Then he’d wander his fingers across my face to the nape of my neck and I felt so defenseless, my IV needled hand stopping his before he got down to my chest. When I’d bring it up he’d have a mood swing about it, taking it so personally and calling me ungrateful for his help. He had begun to tell me crazy things.
“I think the reason this happened to you is because you are meant to be my wife and I have to take care of you.”
“You’re crazy. I will NEVER be your wife. You’re here because you choose to be. I don’t ask you to come here.” I responded.
“I like it when my women are difficult.” Kailash said. I buried my face in my hands, frustrated beyond belief.
The next day Nick came back with a Hindi/English translation book. I was so happy to see him. I told him about Kailash and how uncomfortable I was with him. Nick got up and paced around the room. His face had turned to ice and his body had stiffened. When Kailash came back I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone so angry. His chest literally puffed up and I could cut the tension in the room with a knife. Nick asked to speak to Kailash outside. He came back alone and I was the big spoon again. We read funny phrases in Hindi and he imitated the voice of a meditation teacher we’d both had before, making me laugh.
Another knock on my door came and it was my physical therapist, “you’re going to walk today.” I laughed, “is that a joke?” He brought in a walker. “I just had surgery two days ago,” I said in disbelief. “Don’t worry,” he said, “we’ll make sure you’re stable.” I got off my hospital bed for the first time since my surgery and the nurse handed Nick my catheter bag full of urine. “Wonderful, the guy I have a crush on gets to carry my urine,” Shoot me now. “Nick, can you do me a favor? When you remember me please don’t remember me like this,” I laughed. Nick took it in stride and tried not to look too disgusted. He followed me out and watched me take my first steps as a bionic woman with a titanium rod through her leg. It was slow, awkward and deliberate.
“Today was a big day for you. You walked!” Nick said smiling when I laid back down in the bed, “You know, you’re in much better spirits than I thought you’d be in considering the circumstances.” I played it off, “it’s just a broken leg; I’ll be okay.”
“I feel really sad this happened to you, Jen,” he said tenderly.
I looked deeply into his eyes, maybe believing my lie too, “I’ll be fine,” I said smiling. I’d mastered the art of poker faces so many times, as an old habit or defense mechanism and I don’t know who or what I was defending anymore. Things were not fine, but at that moment the impact of everything that had happened hadn’t hit me. I was a high rise jumper and I was still free falling. I wouldn’t hit the ground until days after and when I finally did, I’d hit it hard.
To be continued….