What Happens When You Break Your Leg in Sudan

It all started innocently enough, as these types of things tend to. We had wanted to introduce a new sport to Rumbek and a Frisbee seemed like the perfect thing. Of course, in a group of men who regularly play soccer, merely throwing a Frisbee isn’t enough. And so, Ultimate Frisbee began.

Everyone was having great fun. Our side had the Frisbee, it was thrown, I was running and then… I was down. The ground had jumped up and tripped me, making me miss the catch. But, more troubling, I seemed to not be able to get up. And I seemed to be in a great deal of pain.

I thought my knee had popped out and so the city’s physiotherapist was called. He came over right away. He confirmed that I was in a lot of pain and that the situation was bad. He said that I would need x-rays before we decided what to do next. The problem was – there is no one in Rumbek who knows how to operate the x-ray machine, or else there’s no electricity, or else there isn’t actually a machine. Whatever the problem was, staying in Rumbek was not an option.

My friends, who are used to solving daily crises in Sudan, got on their phones to see how we could get an x-ray. There is an x-ray machine in Juba, the capital of Southern Sudan, but since we have a doctor in Nairobi our country reps suggested we go straight there. A friend, who had a connection with the airline that flies between Rumbek and Nairobi, got me a seat on the next day’s flight. Joel was on stand-by.

Meanwhile I was couldn’t move my leg. So the physiotherapist took me to the amputee section of the hospital for some crutches.

The night, sleeping in Luke and Kaitlyn’s guestroom with a home-made bucket toilet that just happened to be beside their house, was painful. While I had thought I could make it to Nairobi without Joel, if need be, I quickly realized that I couldn’t do very many things by myself.

The next morning more phone calls were made. Joel got a spot on the plane; I got many blessings from people throughout town as I sat in the back of a truck. People would touch my leg and say, “It is hot”. We got special permission to skip through security, and drive straight up to the airplane. I was then carried onto the tiny plane.

At the border, where the plane needed to refuel and we needed to go through immigration I got special permission to stay on the plane and visit with all the officials who came on board – security, police officers, the pilots, and even the immigration official came out to say hi. Unfortunately, the plane ride made my leg and foot swell so much that my sandal popped off and I couldn’t enjoy my conversations to their fullest.

Upon landing a wheelchair greeted me at the plane. I had never been so thankful to see a chair with wheels. And I was very impressed by all the help that the airline people gave us. We went straight to the hospital where I was checked-in, x-rayed, admitted, drugged, and put to sleep.

The next morning the specialist came to tell me I had a fractured tibia. When I asked if I could go back to Sudan he asked how the healthcare system was there. I told him there was a reason I was in a hospital in Nairobi. He told me to stay put. And so, here I stay, healing and waiting.


One comment on “What Happens When You Break Your Leg in Sudan

  1. […] months ago, when I broke my leg, I naively thought (although perhaps it was partly shock) that by the time South Sudan voted in […]

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