Injured ?? Gabon speaks. Screwed again!!!!

Ouch ouch and ouch again.

The 8 ft wave picked me up and threw me on the floor of the ocean with such vengeance and then again as if to say “the Ocean of Africa speaks, you think being booted hurts. I will show you what hurts.” I heard and felt 2 loud bone cracking sounds in my right shoulder and wondered what the hell I had done.


I was body surfing and actually giving body surfing lessons.  I have been body surfing since I was 4, so I really know how to do it and have to this point been a really good body surfer. I quietly walked back up to my room with my arm hanging limply at my side,muttering the whole time to myself.”you absolute idiot, when will you act your age.” I asked for a bag of ice in my best French and begged for “medicinal wine” at lunch.After 3 glasses of their best Chardonnay I was muttering to myself ‘ but you are acting your age, you may be older but you are fit and adventuresome and love fun.So,you are hurt.So what”

Well, I did totally blow it out and I had surgery so it is me who is now “definitely post op. This happened 10 days after I was booted and enjoying my “Loser Lodge sequester” Survivor was excellent and took very good care of me. The Doc came to see me several times and the camp massage therapist came to my rescue as well. Thanks Survivor, you were great. I was flown to a local military hospital, which was one of the most spotless hospitals I have ever been in, it sparkled. I flew by helicopter which was a great experience flying over the jungle into the city. I had X-rays which was also a very interesting experience. There I was totally naked from the waist up pressed against the x-ray plate looking like this was an everyday occurrence with a Gabonese x-ray tech and a Survivor Doctor to enjoy the whole experience with me. I guess they don’t have change rooms, gowns or modesty.!!!! I of course knew there to be different cultural view of a woman’s boobs and should have expected that. So here I was “in Survivor “showing my boobs after all. 🙂 I also got another good chuckle to read the report “61 year old woman with a body surfing injury.” Sure beats falling in the bathtub or some other age related injury. When we saw no bones were broken (thanks to HRT) I knew it was my rotator cuff and chose not to do anything further till I got home which was 4 weeks away. After all, this was Gabon. So now what was my plan.I was totally unable to use my arm for over a week so had to stand to cut my food and then could sit and use my left arm. The pain in the arm was bearable most of the time. It hurt a lot but motrin helped a little as that was all there was.It really hurt at night and I had to sit to sleep for weeks and weeks and dear God it was excruciating when I jerked in any way….so no jerking. Oh well. Still so happy it was not my neck this was not a problem. I kept motrin and water under my pillow so I could take a few during the night. So now what was my plan. Here I was in an amazing endless jungle on one side and endless pristine totally deserted beaches in the front of us.I decided to walk every day for 5 hours making use of the opportunity to look for monkeys and elephants or what ever else I might find in the jungle and crabs and monkeys of the beach. I had also planned to walk the 60 mile Susan Khoman walk in November so what better place to start training. So “armed” (literally) with my sarong as a sling I set off daily. I also started swinging my arm as much as I was able to encourage shoulder movement. What amazing hours they were, enjoying the total seclusion in nature. I did see monkeys almost everyday but no other wild game. On several walks in the jungle I did hear cracking tree and undergrowth noises I am sure were elephants  but the forest elephants are very reclusive so never saw any. Bummer.  Other than a painful shoulder and arm I was in heaven and it all helped me come to grips with how my Survivor game had all turned out. I would have given my eye teeth to still be in the game but this was certainly a most wonderful experience. In addition to the walking, the Survivor Dr, Massage therapist and myself  knew I would have to do something to try and prevent my shoulder from freezing. I was given a print out of Rotator cuff PT exercises to do and hoping that was what the injury was I set about doing “daily jungle PT ” I found a deserted beach camp about a 40 minute walk from “loser lodge” so this was to become my PT respite. It was an amazing setting with an incredible view of the beach and surf on one side in one open hut and a view of Hippo Lagoon on the other side. I would lay my sarong on the old bar and lie on it and do the  arm exercises as best I could. I fould an old beer bottle that had held coconut oil that I filled with sand to use as a little weight. I used a wine bottle a few times back at our lodgings but didnt want to walk off with a bottle of wine to my PT respite or “they” would think I was hitting the sauce, which to come to think of it would have helped as the Beer Bottle PT and the Spider Finger Crawl was excruciating. I was glad I was far from everyone back in camp as I was often in tears ( good excuse to cry for my Survivor game 🙂 )  and I really didnt want anyone knowing how badly injured I really was.   When the game was half over we moved to another sequester setting in Sao Tome which was a pretty big but very 3rd world country. No fear of anyone even knowing what Survivor was so we were now in amongst people. My 5 hourly walks continued here and I found the most interesting places to see. That will all be written about later. The PT continued but I no longer had my remote and secluded PT camp on the beach so had to settle for my bed when my room  mate was out and now I did have a bottle on wine in the room.    
I have not been able to lift my arm ever since but have had the use of my lower arm and no one has noticed. I also decided to wait for the Premier to be over to have it fixed too so I could enjoy the whole experience to the fullest and not raise suspicions about my part in the game. It also took weeks to get a MRI done and the damage assesed.

My surgeon is the Sports Dr for the Padres so if he fixes major league arms he can surely fix mine. Dr Fronek from Scripps San Diego and he is a magician. My PT is Katie from Scipps and she is amzing. She is an excellent PT and has the best demenour.She will also help me get back to normal, whatever that is . Ever since I dragged myself up from the beach I have repeatedly thanked God it was not my neck. That would have been a huuuuge problem. Just think….how would they have got me up from the beach.!!!! So here I am screwed again.!!!! But I am really happy to be screwed this time. Being screwed by an Olympian was one thing, being screwed together by a magic Doctor is entirely another. So now I am the one who is definately post op.!!!!!

I had a big time tear that took 6 holes instead of the normal 4, have screws and strings and a whole new pulley system. My 2 new best friends are Ice and Percocet !!!! and I am actually lying around a bit and typing a bit with my left hand, one finger. I am told it will be right as rain in about 8 or so months. Just in time for the “magic of Africa” to bring me back into the game to be “the oldest winner yet” See Jeff, I don’t know when enough is enough .!!!!!

3 replies
  1. Allison Noakes
    Allison Noakes says:

    I was your OR nurse and you were the funnest patient ever I told your doctor that I wished he could have done the surgery while you were awake because you were so interesting to talk to with your great stories. I hope you recover well, don’t over do it and listen to your physical therapist and M.D. It was lovely meeting you and thanks for the cookies. We INHALED them. You would have thought we were in Gabon.

  2. gillian
    gillian says:

    Hi Allison,
    hooray for finding my website.Being half under I couldnt remember if I had told you to check it out.You and all at the center were great.Being an Rn i recognise great care.You were all awesome.Thanks. Made a challenging time for me really good.Say thanks to all.All is good.My new best friends I and P. (ice and percs!!!)
    Dr F is great too.Love the guy.I do wonder if I divulged any production secrets in my “sleep’ The last thing I remember saying was”when I wake up you are going to tell me the whole Fang tribe was a nightmare,right” oh well.It was a nightmare but it was awesome on thewhole and I will forever be priviledged to have been a part of the entire Survivor thing.Bum shoulder and all 🙂
    All the best to all of you
    Gillian

  3. Lyn
    Lyn says:

    Hi Gill! Bet you were glad that you didn’t have another Mseleni Hospital “Toilet Paper” experience!! 😉

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