Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes

A few days ago I was playing rugby after class with the village boys, just a typical afternoon. I had been playing well over the week and was getting excited for the upcoming match on Saturday. 15 minutes into the game I was thrown a tough pass that I had to stretch out for. In doing so I lost my balance and fell. I remember the fall quite vividly. I tried to tuck and roll over my left shoulder to disperse the weight over my back, a move I had down hundreds of times in wrestling practice. Unfortunately, my actions weren’t quick enough and my shoulder took the blunt of the impact. I felt a small pop and then pain immediately followed.

As I began to stand my senses kicked into gear. The game had stopped and everyone was staring at me to make sure I was okay. I recognized that I had lost the ability to lift my arm, so I called for a sub and walked off the field. I looked over at Annise and asked her if she could call Teuila. Recognizing the gravity of the situation she ran off for her phone. As I waited I sat down and took a few deep breaths and tried not to focus on the prospect of going home early. Annise didn’t get through to Teuila but got our training manager Mafi on the phone. She came over with the phone and this was when I became aware that the 30 players were still staring at me. Once off the phone with Mafi I calmly told them in Samoan that I was fine and to keep on playing. (Obviously this was a big fat lie)

Mafi showed up with the van as well as all of the teachers like a giant peanut gallery. I hopped in and we briskly set course for the hospital in Apia. I appreciated having Mafi and Annetta sit on either side of me. It was fun explaining to Annetta how to tie a sling while we were bumping down the road. I am sure they appreciated the comedy I provided as well. I may or may not have asked to stop at a store for a Vailima (beer) before arrived at our location.

After 45 minutes of speeding across the island we made to the newly built hospital. (Finished by China last year) Mafi and the crew dropped me off and put me in the capable hands of Teuila. Being staff at the hospital she has the hook up. She fast tracked me into seeing a doctor right away, which was super nice. Who likes waiting in an E.R.? Before I even sat down the doctor sent me to get x-rays done. After 15 minutes and 2 dog bite victims I finally got to sit in his office. I noticed that his face seemed quite tired and underwhelmed. To come up with the diagnosis that my shoulder wasn’t dislocated all he did was take a quick glance at the x-rays and gave my shoulder a poke with one finger. Now, knowing that I had a giant protrusion coming out of my shoulder his diagnosis seemed quite suspect to me.

Teuila had the same doubts of this man’s expertise and promised me that we would make a visit to get another opinion the next day. We took leave of the hospital and picked up a bite to eat. Once I had food in my stomach she checked me into the hotel that accompanies the Peace Corps office. She helped me settle in and provided me with a prescription that was good enough to drop a 300-pound man. Before I laid down for sleep I had one goal in mind, to take a warm shower.

In the village warm showers don’t exist, so I had become accustomed to cold showers. The prospect of a shower that was above a freezing temperature was very exciting. When Teuila departed I set to getting ready for this godsend when something went terribly wrong, I couldn’t take off my shirt! Every time I attempted to remove my stinky shirt my shoulder almost brought me to tears. Knowing this was an impossible mission; I set off for the lobby in search of a savior. When I made my way into the lobby there sat and innocent looking lady and the security guard hovering around the reception desk. What happened next could possibly be considered as a first date in Samoa.

Unshamefully, I asked the receptionist if she could help me with my little issue. At first she gave me a strange look, but after explaining the problem with my shoulder she obliged. She recruited the help of the security guard who had no idea what was going on due to the lack of English speaking abilities. She sat there translating, but before she could finish he was painfully ripping the shirt from my body. I quickly bid them a goodnight, as I was standing half naked in the lobby of the Pasifika Inn. I then ran upstairs to what I envisioned as the shower of my dreams.

I quickly got undressed and scurried into the bathroom to find an unpleasant surprise; there was no soap! At this point I was exhausted and just wanted to feel the warm water run across my back. This shower ended up being the highlight of a sleep-deprived night. Due to the pain and the uncomfortable nature of the bed I didn’t get much sleep.

The next day I spent much of it waiting to see another doctor for a second opinion. Little did I know my well being had been spread quickly throughout Sa’anapu. My impending death seemed to be the talk of the town. I may be exaggerating, but wild rumors were circulating. Apparently I had suffered everything from broken arm to some injury forcing me to return to the States. These rumors only continued to spread since my phone was still in my room and was unable to respond to worried texts. On my end I was terrified that I was going to need surgery, as there was a sliver of a chance this would be so.

That afternoon I had the pleasure of visiting a doctor who actually assessed my shoulder fully. It turns out the previous doctor’s diagnosis was correct but didn’t have the mind to check for separation. My fear of surgery dissipated, but the fact that my shoulder had suffered a grade 2/3 sprain was beginning to set in. What does this mean? Well, looks like I will have the unique opportunity of wearing a sling for the next 3 months. I can’t hold my excitement. I am grateful that the injury isn’t worse, but it sure looks like the curse of the Agerton name has struck again!