This is a true story. At times it is hard to share how you feel even with your family and close friends.
After the Christmas holiday I still had an infected bug bite on my â€œfat footâ€ shin that would not heal. It was starting to have a red patch almost four inches tall go clear around my leg. I went to the medical clinic and got a very typical medicine for infection. It was Cefadroxil a broad-spectrum antibiotic pill.
Pill one â€“ nothing happened, Pill two â€“ nothing. I had a good night sleep. Pill three â€“ nothing. Pill four â€“ nothing. So two days and my leg was still the same.
On Day three, we were packing to go to Jakarta for the company sponsored trip for cultural awareness needed for our work permit in Indonesia. I didnâ€™t feel 100%, but I didnâ€™t feel sick – just tired. That morning, I slept on the couch instead of getting dressed. I was packed up and ready to go. At two oâ€™clock in the afternoon we headed to the Balikpapan airport. I slide out of the car and walked to the curb. As I put my foot up on the six-inch curb, I fell down! Yes, right in front of the whole group of people going into the airport at a busy time. Our Driver was quick to grab my arm and help me stand up. I left Kevin with the suitcases on the curb and headed to the area where the ramp goes up because I knew I couldnâ€™t take another step up. Kevin was not used to seeing me fall on the floor! It was strange to be so out of control in public. I assured him I was OK.
We made it through the airport and met up with some other families going to the orientation in Jakarta. As we all boarded the bus to go out to the plane, I took one step up and fell on the bus. Kevin grabbed my arm and pulled me to a standing position. He asked if we needed to go to the clinic and not go to Jakarta. I said, â€œI was just have some sort of muscle issue and I feel fineâ€.
It was embarrassing to both Kevin and I.
We waited for everyone to go up the stairs of the plane before I attempted it. One of our friends took my purse so Kevin didnâ€™t have to carry it around. He seemed uncomfortable with a ladies purse on his arm, but I think he was just very concerned about me.
I took one step up the plane and fell again. Lucky for me the stairwell was narrow and my upper body strength was strong enough to drag my butt up those 12 stairs. I used both sides of the walkway and just huffed it up pulling on the hand rails. Once I was in an upright position and walking on a flat surface I was able to move.
Regardless to say once I got to my seat, I thought â€œWhat the hell! I should be home and in bedâ€. Hindsight is always great.
Sharing Good and Bad with Love Ones
I thought I was going to give Kevin a heart attack. He looked more worried that I was. I then got a lot of help from people I know and strangers all telling me what was wrong with me. I had everything from inner ear infection to balance issues to arthritisâ€™s and tropical infections.
We got to the hotel and I went to bed. The next morning we had to go to an orientation meeting. I was unable to walk up the three stairs to the bathroom so I was under Kevinâ€™s guidance 100% of the time. I felt older than Grandma Wright (she is 80)! Kevin even had to wait outside the bathroom to make sure I made it back out the door. It was a long day. But I didnâ€™t fall down! And I wonâ€™t tell you how to get off a toilet seat when your legs will not push your butt off the seat.
On day two of the orientation, we had a walk around the Indonesian cultural park â€“ I stayed in the area and just read a book. Several of the local staff came over and told me what local medicine was good for bad legs. I took notes of their advice. I made it through the rest of the orientation and got a taxi to the airport. I wanted to get home. Kevin had to stay in Jakarta to do a meeting on Thursday.
The company driver in Jakarta was very nice he helped me get up over the curb and on my way to the check in counter. When the plane was ready to go…yikes we had to go down two flights of stairs just to get to the bus. It had a handrail, so I was able to take each step â€“one at a time. Putting two feet on each step was not much of a concern just so slow. Then it was time to get on the bus to go to the plane.
No Longer Possible to Manage
I tried to board the bus but my leg just would not go up as high as the bus step was. I tried the other foot and it would at least swing up tall enough to make it on the bus. Then I fell. Yes â€“ on my own I was lying on the bottom of a dirty bus without a helping hand insight. Then a small â€“ very small Indonesian man held out his hand. I knew if I took it, I would pull him down on top of me. That seemed cultural unacceptable so I declined his hand. I snaked myself over to the stairs on the bus and pulled myself to an upright sitting position. When the bus got to the plane, I just slide off the stairs and slide across the bottom of the bus to the door.
Then it hit me â€“ I feel just like an expat in a new assignment. Logically I knew I would be ok but I was out of my comfort zone. I knew my husband was doing what he knows how to do (work) and I am stuck alone fending for myself. Language issues were a concern because by this time most people on the bus wanted me to get into an ambulance. I was not sick just unable to move in the manner I was used to. I was unprepared for this part of â€˜my journeyâ€™.
With my aging Mom, we made sure she had a walker. Then we modified her movement with a wheelchair at times. Yet â€“ here I was in a similar condition and without any structural support to help me. Often this is what companies do to the families they send overseas â€“ they help them but do not really give them structural support the family needs to be successful.
Going up the stairs of the plane was almost impossible but the airlines sent a baggage handler up the stairs to help me. He got me to my seat and we were off to Balikpapan! This was the second time I cried in two days and realized that mobility was â€œWAYâ€ more important than I never thought possible.
Having been living in other countries for over 25 years I am a seasoned expat. I have been called a â€˜serial expatâ€™ and even a â€˜re-treadâ€™ since I have lived and ventured back to some countries for a second or third time â€“ calling it home. I had forgotten how out of control a person could feel.
The key words I needed to remember are exactly what Expats have in a new move. Limited Competencies! That is when we long for past experiences and have trouble moving on. I also had cultural fatigue! I was experiences extreme fatigue at attempting to readjust. I also was holding numerous unrealistic expectations of myself and I was socially unprepared for this â€˜adventureâ€™. As a true expat, I was willing to persist with effort knowing it would take time.
I finally made it home and to my own bed. The next morning I went to the clinic and yes I am the 1% of the population that can get a muscle reaction to this medicine. It will take five to ten days to clear my system. Each day should get better!