So, I had this grand plan to go on some adventurous treks in the Ladhak, and doing some ecological volunteering in Spiti Valley, and spend months lost in nature around the Indian Himalayas. Instead, I snapped a tendon in my right bicep, doing some simple gardening work no less. Medical diagnosis: surgery! Recovery time: six months.
Great, all plans gone to hell! Oh well, shit happens, right?
Sure it does, but before I could take it philosophically, as it were, I have cursed my arm, my luck, all gardens in the world, and a bunch of entities who must not be named, apologies to Harry Potter’s fans. Once I got it out of my system, and calmed down, I really could say to myself: shit does happen. Then asked myself: what should I do?
I hope you never have to ask yourself the same question, but just in case, here is a short guide on what to do when you get injured travelling, and my advises on things to do to keep positive, or busy if you wish, during recovery when you are far from home.
Still, expectations and reality might not always be a match!
CONSULT YOUR TRAVEL INSURANCE!
The first thing to do is to get in touch with your travel insurance and understand what kind of medical expenses they cover, and all the details concerning your case. They will be able to make you talk to a doctor for a first opinion, and suggest the nearest structure for a medical check.
Understanding the gravity of your injury is the most important. I was in Nepal when this happened to me, in an area with no adequate facilities, so I had to wait to go to India to get a proper medical check. In the end, my travel insurance covered almost all medical expenses and took charge of the surgery in a private structure in Delhi.
No travel insurance? Then start writing to your family and friends and tell them how much you love them, and how much you missed them during your journey 🙂 Really, a travel insurance is a must, unless you are rich, then who cares! This incident cost about €5,000 to sort out, just saying. I can easily travel for over 5 months with that kind of money.
TO GO HOME OR NOT TO GO HOME? CONSULT YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Once you got a diagnosis, it’s time to decide what to do. Meaning, if you need surgery, like in my case, are you going to go back home, being repatriated as they call it, or are you going to stay where you are or go somewhere else? That’s the dilemma, isn’t it? In order to try and solve my many doubts, I have consulted with family and friends, and received the following answers:
EXPECTATION: Call your family and friends, they’ll solve all your doubts for sure.
- Mom: you are coming home, right?! To be expected. Italian moms, you know.
- Brother: just don’t end up in a butcher’s hands. Mmmm, good advise. Slightly prejudiced, but I’ll take it.
- Friend one: dude, it’s up to you. True, not helpful, but definitely true.
- Friend two: are you crazy? I wouldn’t even think about it and go back to Europe. At least a straight answer.
- Friend three: you’d feel miserable back home. There’s an interesting point here.
REALITY: A clear solution to the dilemma was not provided.
Yet, sometimes consulting with the people you love, is just a way to look for a confirmation of what’s already in your hearth, you just lack the confidence to carry on the decision without any support. In this case, the last point was pretty much in line with my thinking. Friend three is the winner, yay!
The only place I could go back to would be at my mother’s, as I have given up everything to go travelling. But let’s be honest, I am a 40 years old man, mom’s house should be just for short visits, like Christmas time, or when you need the car to go trekking on the Dolomites.
As much as help would be appreciated, I couldn’t think of myself spending months there, doing nothing, while I was supposed to be somewhere around the world, discovering places, making new experiences. In India, there would be still a lot of things to do even injured.
Furthermore, have I decided to go travelling, be a nomad and all of that? Then I should deal with my shit while I travel, right? It’s a matter of principle! 😉
So, I did my bit of research about medical facilities in India. As it turned out, there are some perfectly good orthopaedic surgeons. Therefore, I put aside all my other adventurous plans and left for quite a long stay in New Delhi.
As for the dilemma, here’s my ANSWER: when shit happens, keep travelling!
This is obviously a very personal answer, my REAL ADVICE is to search yourself, consult with the people you love, even if you will receive unexpected or contradicting answers, it will help. Then, be honest with yourself, and do what you think it’s better for your health, both physical and mental.
GET THE BEST OUT OF YOUR TIME
I wasn’t really planning to stay more than a couple of days in New Delhi, and I ended up having to stay for two months. Fine, shit happens. Now, I have to get organised, and I have to find a way to make the best out of my time here, considering my post-surgery, temporarily blocked arm.
Alright then, positive attitude mode full on here is a list of things to do when you get injured travelling:
1 – Find a nice place where to stay
Backpacking, solo travelling and living low cost is fun, and all part of the adventure. Yet, there isn’t much sense to it if I can’t have the adventure, I can’t work and volunteer, I can’t carry a backpack. In a situation like this, I decided to allow myself a little more comfort. So, I got a room in a big shared house, with musicians hanging out all the time, a lot of space and light, a huge garden, and in a quiet, traffic and honk free part of the city.
Delhi is great, charming and all with its chaotic life. But it’s even greater to be able to decide when you want to dive into it, and when you want to breathe. This place is just what I need, and it’s still close to the city when I want to go out. There’s also a cook who prepares great vegan food every day and never forgets tea time. The room is always lean, the laundry gets done, I can
do fuck all focus on recovery!
Everyone has his own idea of comfort and what a nice place is. My advice, if you can afford it, is to allow yourself some proper comfort, it will help endure the pain 😉
2- Pick-up that thousand pages book!
Remember that classic you always wanted to read but never found the time to? Now it’s the time! Tolstoy come to me! You are not into classics? No problems, Delhi is full of nice bookshops with all kind of reading material. A good occasion to try some local novelist perhaps, like I did for my last reading “The White Tiger”, or to deepen the understanding of the country, its religion, its culture, its history.
Bookshops offer plenty of options also for those who are interested in spiritual life here, it’s India after all. For example, I bought “The things you can see only when you slow down” by Haemin Sunim, an influential Zen Buddhist from South Korea. The very first sentence of the book says:
When everything around me is moving so fast,
I stop and ask, “Is it the world that’s busy, or is it my mind?”
Spot on! I haven’t read the rest yet, but it sounds intriguing, and speaking of spiritual life…
3 – Learn how to meditate
When you meditate stillness is important, right? Then here it’s really catching two pigeons with one cage (Italian proverb).
Since I can’t do sport or move around too much, I might as well learn how to meditate, which, by the way, I wanted to do for a long time. I kept putting it off because I had to go trekking, climbing, boxing, travelling, diving, to the theatre, to the cinema, out on dates, see my friends, go to work… hey, I’d have gotten there, sooner or later.
Well, the time has indeed come, I have enrolled in a 10 days Vipassana course, which I have already reported extensively about 😉
4 – Discover all the city’s secrets
It sounds obvious, but in a big city, a capital, there’s always a lot to do.
First of all, you can discover cultural places. Delhi is full of them, as a city with a huge historical heritage. One of them is Old Delhi for example. Then there are museums and memorials, like the Gandhi Smriti. Then there are markets to discover and so many different types of Indian food, and hang out places for a drink or two, a traveller needs a break from his misfortunes from time to time 😉
Delhi has also a surprisingly high number of city parks and green areas. So one doesn’t miss nature so much, isn’t that a cute thing to say? I am kind of thinking about drafting a post with all the sites I found interesting in Delhi. I’ll see, perhaps by the end of my time here.
5 – Improve your street photography skills
I like taking photos, not for nothing this blog is full of them. I always try to have my camera with me, and I am kind of re-discovering a passion for street photography since I arrived here. So much so in fact, that I have started a photo project, check it out 😉
I’ll tell you a secret (shhhhhhht!), I am kind of thinking of upgrading my photographic equipment, as I see that I actually do take a lot of photos and have fun with it. It’s a big budget, but worth the investment if it increases your fun.
At any rate, street photography is a great and relatively easy pastime.
6 – Modell for a photo shooting
Haha, I can guarantee it’s a lot of fun, and it kept me busy for a few days between finding the photographer, organising the whole thing, trimming my beard by hand with a small scissor, getting my aaaaabs and my other bicep pumped up (I am sure the results are very visible!)…
Oh, were you expecting a photo about the reality of this? And now you know how I feel, haha. Okay, I am going to tell: I really became a Bollywood model! Putting on and taking off that outfit has been a proper and painful nightmare though, just saying.
7 – Get addicted to Instagram
In the hopeless quest for increasing my followers, I am kind of double tapping a hearth after another on Instagram. it’s kind of obsessive-compulsive really: double-tap double-tap double-tap! But I know obsessions have a short lifespan with me, even the most powerful ones, those for women. Still, I am trying to do some serious work here.
I have also studied the whole how to use the hashtags and tag people thingy, which works up to a certain extent. Funny thing, I discovered many people follow and unfollow right away. If someone can explain to me why I’ll be forever grateful.
The truth is Instagram is full of fake or commercial accounts, which I try to avoid, especially those where every photo portraits a cute girl, or a cool dude, showing their super-duper haircut (bold guys hate nice haircuts, this is a well-known fact!) on the terrace of a super-duper hotel with a super-duper breakfast served on the table and a view that not even in Toyland.
How are they called again? Influencers? Boooooooooring! I follow exclusively those who have real photos to show, and real stories to tell.
Okay, okay, the flesh is weak and the mind weaker. But there are actually a lot of interesting accounts on Instagram, with some incredible photos and stories. I guess with this I can forget about followers for, like, ever?
8 – Time to win that Pulitzer prize!
Almost last, but definitely not least, writing is a great exercise to keep yourself busy, and stimulate your intellect and creativity. It can be anything: the novel that’s been stirring in your head (probably based on your life), a script for a great movie (probably based on your life), a personal diary (probably based on your life), reviews of films or books (check my book reviews, they’re cool!), articles for that eco-magazine you love so much (which won’t be published), even just taking the time to start a correspondence with friends or family is useful.
Wait a sec, how about learning to write with your left hand? I mean, that’s a real skill that will help you through hardship. There are some places and cultures where calligraphy is associated with meditation and personal growth. That’s all I know about it, but I’ll get there through my wanderings too!
Allow me a digression about writing
For me, the main thing is writing for The Constant Revolution of course, which is very possible with one hand too. I must confess that when I started this blog I did not know how I was feeling about it. Would I like it? Would it last? Would it make sense to have a blog in the era of the one-minute videos on social media? It’s a lot of work, it takes time, resources, commitment, therefore answering those questions is relevant.
So let me take this occasion to say, yes, I love it, more than I expected actually. I like the writing, the work on the photos, the planning, I enjoy posting shorter stories on the socials, I am even studying the whole online marketing aspects of it (slowly eh, this is really not fun). Most importantly, so far I haven’t had any issues in thinking about what to write, which was one of my fears. Ideas come, and I follow them. For example, there will be soon something new in the menu, but I can’t tell, it’s a secret!
Okay, I am gonna tell: it will be about stories of change. Since the beginning, I really didn’t want to write about myself only. So, I’ll try to hunt down inspirational stories and projects for social change, environmental protection, animal well fare, great innovations, stuff like that. I believe it really makes sense for this blog. Suggestions? Get in touch! I got something to get started in Delhi.
So, the blog is alive, it grows, it changes constantly just like its title infers. It’s still very young, it doesn’t have a clear identity yet. With time, and as I grow more confident, perhaps it will develop one; or perhaps it’s not supposed to have one. At this moment, I wonder where it will take me, what it will become, because I really have no idea. I only know that it will continue.
This incident at my arm, it has been an interruption of my journey in the world, but it definitely wasn’t of my inner journeys. It’s tough, feeling weak, it really sucks! But there is a big lesson about accepting things don’t always go as planned, and about giving time for things to change, for all injuries to heal, and I mean all. The blog responded to it, it took a different turn, the constant revolution is working.
Does it make sense to have it? To me, yes. To the world, I am not so sure. We don’t live in an era where many people read long content. Yet, I’ll never, ever give up on content, for the simple reason that my world is full of it. I do want to live in that world. Then, who knows, times change, everything changes, and I might even find a way to write interesting stories for the world to read.
End of digression – be happy! 🙂
9 – Set up a recovery goal
In the end, all of this is about getting back in shape, right? Something that will take quite some efforts, and time. Doctor says six months of rehabilitation to be able to train like before, and go climbing, do yoga sessions, a little bit of boxing maybe… well, I say four months, and in six I’ll be in a better shape than before! Yep, six pack I am talking to you (then I’ll finally get those Instagram followers, yay).
Setting up a goal is important, for motivation, and to keep positive. In this case more than ever, as I will not be able to be followed by a physiotherapist all the time. For one, I’ll need to leave India in September as my visa expires; for two, the insurance does not cover physio. But the most important reason is that I want to resume travelling as soon as I can carry my backpack. This means I’ll have to do most of the rehab on my own, and for this, I need to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Gosh, I have so many things to do. Oooooooooooooooommm!
A big thanks for all the photos on this post to Neil Chakraborty and Katya Popova
Some great advice right here! Brilliant