Al Joseph's Blog




The basketball court stands next to a lake and three times my ball has ended up in the lake. Three times I waited for it to drift ashore about 100 meters away. Then a young boy lost his ball, but it it just drifted out to the middle of the lake.

It is Saturday now, and I arrive to find that they have erected tent canopies on the safer end of the court, so I am forced to shoot on the end that is more prone to water landings. I resolve to be watchful and quick. My ball is not going into the lake! I fired from the sideline next to the lake so that I am shooting away from the water. The ball clangs up off the rim and swiftly sails off the opposite side of the court, over shrubs and between trees. I sprint after it, huffing and puffing with the exercise that I came here for, until I catch up to and gather the ball in like a runaway puppy. I return courtside, face the basket, itching to shoot, but no I will not shoot toward that dreadful water! I dribble back to the opposite side and turn putting the lake at my back. Over the next few minutes I fire 10 more shots. Lots of huffing and puffing, but the ball does not always bounce so favorably. Three times it canons for the lake, three times I sprint and barely snatch it out of the air, only slightly resembling a few of the NFL's most highly touted receivers. One more comes quickly for the lake, bouncing over shrubs and past a few small trees. On a full run I hop the bushes and desperately try to bat the ball back, but then my feet tangle up on the uneven terrain and suddenly it is me that is hurdling out of control for the lake. There's nothing I can do now. It is too late. I watch myself hurl into that terrible water. Then worse, the lake is not as deep as it appeared, I feel my knee hit what feels like a big chunk of broken cement at the bottom of the water, and my left shin scrapes along the surface of the slab. As I begin to regain control I am not sure what to expect. Just how badly injured am I? Where does this end? On the up, I am confident nothing is broken. On the down, my brand new white as cotton baskeball shoes are sinking into the mud at the bottom of this lake, and I have seen the mud in the klong systems around Bangkok. It is stomach wrenching. How far will I sink? Where does it stop? How difficult will it be to get out of here? I calm when I see the sinking stop andI am able to pull my feet out of the mud and walk. There is a raised cement shoreline around the lake, and I find it difficult to grab onto the top and pull myself up out of the lake. A teenage boy sees me and calls a policeman to help. Each of them reach down and grab an arm, pulling and pulling until I am able to lift one of my legs over the edge and work myself up onto shore. With heartfelt thanks I say, "Kub kun krap." I inspect my left leg and see abrasions on the knee and all along the shin. Not too uncommon in Bangkok, although I usually assume the recepient has been bestowed the bandages as a result of a motorcycle accident. The roads in Bangkok look dirty, but a little oil and rubber are nothing compared to the water in the canals here. This lake is connected to the canal system. Because it is bigger, it looks cleaner than the really narrow canals that are deep black and look filthy of everything you don't even want to imagine. People build bambo shacks right over this water, and I assure you, the bamboo shacks do not have indoor plumbing. Nor did the parks commission fill or maintain this lake with tap water. The water in this lake merges with the filth of the canals, and therein lies my greatest fear. I scraped on the bottom of that lake. Right where the worst of the worst settles. What are my chances of avoiding infection? I have read newspaper stories of flesh eating bacteria, people who have lost their legs, or even their lives to infections. In my mind, the worst of the worst could be at the bottom of this lake and now on the surface of, or even inside of my leg right.

Three days after the original accident the pain seems greater than the nature of the wound. Why does it hurt so much? Do I have a hairline fracture? I sit in the back seat of a taxi, mostly stationary, unmovable, barely crawling forward through a herd of steel cattle, with motorcycles, like herding dogs running between the legs of the bigger animals. Two hours later, and only a handful of kilometers from where I first climbed onto that black vinyl back seat, I arrive at my primary hospital. This is the third doctor I have seen since Saturday. He changes my meds, adding what he called an anti-flammatory.

It's Thursday. My left ankle is swollen. I sit in a taxi, that for all practical purposes could be the same taxi, crawling through the same herd of steel cattle, inch by inch, foot by foot. I want to know why my left ankle is swollen. It wasn't swollen for the first four days, why is it swollen now? Is it broken? I hadn't noticed any pain during the accident, nor any significant pain since. To me this seems strange. I reach the doctor's table and he organizes his answer into three parts. 1) There may be internal bleeding and the fluid is collecting in your ankle. 2) There may be a blood clot. 3) You may have damaged the ankle and need to see an orthepedic surgeon. He concludes by telling me that if the swelling doesn't go down in two or three days that I should see orthepedics.

It is Saturday now and my ankle is still swollen. I really don't believe for a minute that my ankle is broken. Nor do I feel that it is very likely that I have a blood clot. Minutes ago I swallowed my anti-inflammatory med, and I decide that it is time that I knew something about it. Days ago I had already researched my antibiotic, but didn't yet know anything about the other prescription. I pick up the tin foil of tablets from the kitchen counter and peer down at the small letters written across the tin foil, "Arcoxia". I sit down at the kitchen table and tap out the letters into my google search box. I click on a few of the search results, discovering that Arcoxia was disapproved by the FDA for use in the United States due to its high risk of heart attack and stroke. I read on, the answer slaps me right on the cheek, "If any of the following symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pains or ankle swelling appear or worsen, stop your treatment with Arcoxia and consult a doctor..." It seems that the effects of the drug are cumulative, so I have been at considerable risk since the day my ankle first swelled up...and the doctor failed to identify the problem.

I should have known better. Dangerous side effects, even from FDA approved medications, are not that uncommon. Both my mother and my brother have had serious problems as result of medications prescribed by their physicians. It has been two days since I read those warnings and quit using Arcoxia, and now my ankle appears much better. My abrasions are continuing to heal, though it seems much too slowly. I can't wait to stroke some outside shots, and to jump around and run, but I'm definitely looking for a new basketball site.












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