At the end of January, Amy and I traveled to the coast for a work retreat with her counseling group. One evening, we went for a long walk on the beach. When we were turning back, I stepped down to the water’s edge to rinse my feet. I was on a sort of makeshift rock boat ramp. What I didn’t realize was that it was a black algae-covered makeshift rock boat ramp. My feet went out from under me, and I went down. Hard. The back of my head bounced off the rock, and I saw stars. Thankfully, I did not lose consciousness, though I was woozy and bleeding.
But…we were in the middle of nowhere. The place where we were staying was itself in the middle of nowhere, and we had walked a couple of miles. With no other viable options, we started walking back. With lots of blood coming out of my head. A few hundred yards down the beach we found a woman who gave me a small stack of paper napkins, which I used to staunch the bleeding. Another half-mile or so, we found a family, packing up their gear from a day on the beach. They didn’t have any first aid supplies, but they did give me a coldpack to place on my head. Well, actually, it was a cold can of beer. I wrapped it in a napkin and held it to my head and continued walking. I must have been a sight – algae and blood covered gringo, walking down the beach holding a beer to the back of my head! Until the beer was no longer cold, and my head was no longer bleeding. I guess I was walking pretty slowly.
Anyway, we got back to the little stretch of village where we were staying. Amy rushed to the “pharmacy” to get some more first aid supplies, and I managed to get to the room. We Facetimed a dear friend – a nurse – who helped us make decisions (no, it didn’t need stitches; yes, I most surely had a concussion; no, I probably wasn’t going to get good enough care to bother with venturing out at night into the nearby town in search of a clinic). And she instructed us to be on the lookout for certain symptoms.
I managed to rest somewhat that night. But the next day “certain symptoms” kicked in. Through a good bit of hassle, we made the decision that I needed to get a CT scan. The nearest equipped facility…was 3.5 hours away in Cartagena. The Lord provided a driver who took us to the hospital, waited for me to have results (negative! no brain bleed and no fracture), and then drove us back in the middle of the night. We even got a visit from a church planter we’ve been working with – he came to the hospital with some supper and to sit with us until we knew what the results were! The Lord’s provision was abundant that night.
Since then, as symptoms have lingered and sometimes worsened, I’ve consulted with a few neurologists – first in the US and then here locally. I have what is called occipital neuralgia, which is doctor speak for trauma to a nerve that conveniently comes out of the back of my head right where I decided to bounce it off the rocks. Typically, this trauma heals in 1-2 months. But I’m at 11 weeks and still experiencing symptoms. I’m getting treatment. Some days are better than others. Things do seem a bit better over the last week. Pray that that continues!