“Scott” Survives The Motosai Accident!
That’s the motto I have been using when telling others about my motosai accident. This occurred in early February – around the 4th? The day before the Super Bowl. (At least I missed one of the crappiest NFL championship games ever played.)
Not surprisingly, I don’t remember the accident or MUD in the Ubon Rachathani hospital with me or anything for about 10 days. Actually, the only thing I remember during that black period was seeing my fellow teachers from school around my bed. (They had to be present for 24/7 in order for me to keep my single hospital room.) To me, seeing them was like some sort of a weird dream. I was wondering why they were there, standing around my bed. I recognized them as being my fellow teachers …but I couldn’t remember their names. I was working with them for more than six months and I forgot their names! Of course, at the time I had no idea that I was in a bed in the hospital. On my mind was that Saturday morning class I was supposed to teach that morning. Were they there to wake me for the class? Oh, and the way they were looking at me! Full of sorrow. One girl was just staring at me – I remember looking into her blue eyes – and close to crying. What the hell was this all about, I was wondering.
I fully regained some kind of alertness around Valentine’s Day. I remember seeing my girlfriend in the room, along with an Ubon Rachathani Rajabhat student that I was tutoring, my mother, my sister and father. He was handing me the Bangkok Post Sports section telling that the Steelers won the Super Bowl.
And I did meet the kids who crashed into me. Yes, it was 3 kids on a bike, and they were about 18 years old. Two girls and the boy – who was motosai driver – came to the hospital to visit me. He said it was their fault and they were sorry, but did I know what happened to their bike? One girl seemed to have taken a blow to her forehead – looked like there was a bandage covering about 20 stitches. (The accident couldn’t have been my fault, I figured. She would be asking me to cover her injury expenses.)
The story is that I was driving home at, I don’t know, 2 AM? I was going down Sukka-Uppatam Street, only one minute from my house, at no faster than 30 MPH. Right as I was doing this, the kids were coming from a side street. Stupidly, the headlights on his bike weren’t on and he decided to make a turn onto Sukka-Uppatam without stopping at the end of his street. They must’ve nailed me in the back of my bike, and I likely did a Superman – flying off my bike and smashing my head and face on the ground when I landed.
As I was coming to, I was learning about what happened, that I could’ve died or become brain damaged, and that I looked freakish – think of a cross between a bald-headed hacked up Igor from Frankenstein and some hockey player goon with fucked up teeth. I’m about back to normal now, but upon first seeing that in the mirror – it wasn’t pretty, I tell ya. In fact, here’s all of the official damage:
• Some rip in my left shoulder tendon / muscle area.
• A small fracture in both my chin and right jaw – not as bad as it sounds, no wiring needed.
• Some nice stitch work on my cut chin.
• A few missing, a few broken teeth right in the top middle.
• A concussion, a skull fracture, a blood clot and some brain swelling.
Remember how I said that I forgot the names of the teachers at my school who came in to see me? Well, my brain was sacked pretty hard. It caused my foot to be paralyzed for a few days. My speech was affected. I was very slow responding when in a conversation and I did slur a lot. My vocabulary was off. Silly stuff – like sports trivia, the names of actors, actresses, movies, old pop culture stuff – I had a hard time remembering. Kind of odd, but hey, it wasn’t like I was playing Jeopardy.
More on the brain – in order for it to recover, they needed to take out a piece of the skull around it where it was swollen. A piece about the size of my open hand – my fingers definitely and probably half of the palm. They did this about a day or two after the accident. Of course, it was right for them to do it, but having a nice dent in your head where the operation was done…well, at least I was able to grow some hair around it to hide it.
So as the doctor allowed me to travel back home to rest for a few months, we made a plan where I’d come back to him and have the skull piece put back in my head in July. An interesting scenario came up. My mom asked if I could get this operation done in the USA. The doctor said that it could be done, but in order to do that they’d have to insert the skull piece into my belly. This would keep it alive and ready for the procedure. But the doctor admitted that he was not sure of how to do this, and he suggested his usual method – keeping the piece in a freezer where it would stay alive. I was all for it – I don’t know how I’d deal with part of my head in my stomach!
Plus I am positive that the operation would have been more EXPENSIVE in the USA. When I was in the hospital for about a month when the accident first happened, the bill was for about 92,000 baht, I think. That’s about $2,500. Now you think that as a patient, having all this care, tons of medicine and a major operation plus room and board for about a month…you think that would cost $2,500 in the USA? Definitely not! A hundred grand would probably be the price.
Same thing in July. They made my skull full again (yea!), provided all the care and medicine again and room and board for about 10 days – this came to about $750.
Mr. MUD, one thing I definitely think you should do is GET INSURANCE. American International Assurance was the name of the plan provided by our school. I remember that you were with me when we went out during the school day to get physical exams – which we had to do before getting the plan. I remember on the car ride home, you changed your mind and decided not to get the plan. It wasn’t for you or you didn’t quite trust it. Whatever you are doing now (I know that you recently left the school) find an insurance plan! They covered all the costs of what I went through, they were there, they really helped!!! But, of course, I pray that you never really have to use this insurance.
Oh – if this happened to me in the USA, even in the Boston area where I’m from with all these great hospitals…I don’t think it could have gone any better than it did in Ubon. A special thanks goes out to my surgeon, Dr. Prawatwong Wongstikaew at Sappasitprasong Hospital. He’s the man – he says he’s done operations like the one I had about 1,000 times! The nurses were very helpful as well. Even though they hardly could speak English and I know nit noy Thai, they did a job well done.
Right now, it’s Friday, October 13th. My 31st birthday! Something’s very weird about that. Did it give me bad luck for the year? I often think about why this happened to me. One part of me says I had a strange feeling when I first decided to rent the motosai. I was never good on a bicycle in the past, falling a lot and doing dumb and dangerous things when car traffic was involved. Another part of me says I took this hit for my brother, Rory, who is in Baghdad for the US Army. Like I took a bullet or shrapnel right in the head for him. But what happened to me, it would be worth having him come back safely. I’d certainly take myself getting into a near death accident than having my 23 year old brother lose his life because the Army forced him to go into some horrible situation in Iraq where there’s too much violence, no peace, a civil war and we’re accomplishing almost nothing.
Despite having this accident, I’m back to Ubon Rachathani in a few days. After about 9 months on the “injured list,” I got my job back at the school! Now I will be teaching Math to students form the 2nd to 9th grades! And I feel healthy enough to do it, and my brain is okay now to remember long division, algebra and geometry! I’m very excited to be coming back to Ubon seeing everyone and having a job again.
About a motosai – I probably won’t use one again. I mean, I was actually pretty good at driving mine but if I ever got back on one I’d be very paranoid. I think I’ll just limit my excursions to walking, the bus, tuk tuks for now.
Mr. MUD, all other Stickman readers who ride motosais…please be careful! Like I said, shit happens.
If I can, I’m really interested in meeting up with some Thai police and talking with them about ways to get people to drive smarter and safer. I really want to meet up with them…but I think they’ll just ignore what a farang is saying. Or just not understand me. Still I’ll try.
GREAT to hear that you made it. All the best for the future.