The road to recovery

After leaving Zhongwei, for the second time. My leg in a bit better shape and my mind focused, we pushed on into some of the most inspiring landscape I have ever seen. Crowning this, we had now come across a section of mud wall that was 6 – 8 meters high in pristine condition, as if it had just been build.

Zhongwei ,had been my town of total despair!. A visit to the local hospital for an x-ray to make sure that there was no stress fracture to any of the bones in my left leg.( I must compliment the Chinese for the speed and efficiency with which I was helped, and at a total cost of R 15-00) No structural damage!, but just muscle and tendon damage , I had also phoned Prof Wayne Derman at Sport Science to see what advice he could give me, but there was nothing much he could do without a MRI scan that we could mail to him, to analyze. This was not available. The diagnosis was a torn muscle and I had also developed bad tendonitis due to this. Rest was the only thing, and lots of it, but did we have time?. It was now the second day that I was lying in this dingy hotel room looking at the water seepage marks and torn wall paper on my now vertical and very unexciting wall of my room. Feeling like a bird, caged and unable to escape into the enticing blue yonder, the knowing what was out there, but being out of my grasp was starting to work my mind, my only form of escape was watching the local snowy TV in silence

Braam did not know what to do; the support crew was just hanging around wandering when we would move again. I didn’t know what to do and was delaying making a decision. There was this real fear that it was the end of the road for me; after all I had been through putting the project together over the past 4 years. I was basically just waiting, for what, I don’t know?. Long faced and moping, I can’t explain the feeling, maybe a feeling that I was about to fail, alone and outcast.

There was a knock on the door! I hobbled over to answer It was Doc Michael, our team doc. Walking over to the bed he sat down and in his quiet way he began talking to me and massaging my leg. “David he said, in my opinion there are 2 options, firstly, to sit it out and rest the leg for 10 days and then move on, but I don’t think that this is the way. Secondly it is up to you” He went into depth, his view was starting me on the road again, he felt that this would improve my mental state regarding the injury. Basically getting me into a positive frame of mind and nurse myself slowly through the injury. He felt that the recovery would be quicker on the move, as well as this it would keep me positive and those around me. Leaving me to debate the scenario with myself, he walked over to the door, pauseing and without turning around he said. “I have a pair of hiking poles that you can use”, he then smiled and said “It will only hurt for about 3 weeks”

The door closed ;( in my mind it closed 20 times) I don’t think I have felt that alone in my life. Knowing, that only I could make the call. What was the correct one? The night was long; I stood at the window looking down at the local food market, just staring at the people as they moved back and forth, the smoke from their stoves twisting into snaking plumes in the still night air. The voices, hooting and sounds of the market becoming a drone as my sight became blurred and my mind was lost in this meaningless stare .I swayed on my injured leg trying to convince myself it was ok.

It was 8 and I went down for breakfast. The whole crew were there, walking towards the table I could feel the nervous stares from them, knowing that they all had the same thought on their minds. What was my decision? I sat down next to doc and with out looking at him said, “Doc can I borrow your poles?” I then looked up, our eyes met, a really emotional moment, it seemed to swirl around the whole table. I could feel the energy of the whole team, no one had come this far to give up. Not wanting to look up again as I was afraid that the emotional feelings would get the better of me, I ate my rice porage in silence. Dragon, the Chinese crew leader got up, giving me a pinch on the neck walked off to get the vehicles ready. The hard km were now ahead – “We are putting every thing in to earn those Smiles!”

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