Ok, I know it could have been so much worse, but I’m really embarrassed about admitting this. The reason I haven’t been around lately is that I was in a scooter accident in France, four days before leaving to continue my adventure in Austria. That’s right, I was there for over three weeks working hard, spending time with my friends, babysitting, really enjoying eating at the best restaurant in Uzès (my friends’, of course). And then I borrowed their friend’s Vespa. I’ve been riding bikes in Canada for ten years. I own a 650 cc BMW. I’ve got this. It’s a 50 cc, won’t-even-go-faster-than-45-kms/hour machine. What could possibly go wrong?

I was slowing down to a stop, on a turn, on a rain-slick road… bam! I could feel the back end sliding out, and myself falling in slow motion. “Shit, shit, shit”… yup, that’s what went through my head. Followed quickly by “Bari Lyn is going to kill me…” See, I’d been on my way to help my friend clean up her garden before the fall weather turned cold and rain was scheduled for the next few days. And she was going to pay me! How great is that? Doing something I love (gardening) and getting paid? She’d also mentioned something about cleaning her car. Hey, if it gets me a bit more money while I travel, I can do anything. Well, nothing illegal. That wouldn’t be fun.

Then again, neither was this. I was lying in the middle of the road, trying to get up. I had landed on my left arm. As I hit the asphalt, I felt the pressure of the buckle on my backpack strap under my arm. Uh oh… I wasn’t going that fast, so I was hoping for the best. But I just knew, laying there this wasn’t going to be good. (But on a positive note, the SuperDry nylon jacket I was wearing doesn’t have a hole or a tear in it!)

When I sat up, it felt like I was suffocating. I couldn’t drag air into my lungs. I began to sweat, I couldn’t breathe! But then I tried to calm down, coaching myself to relax and just breathe. With that first inhale, my panic receded. And the swearing began again. It really, really hurt.

Perfect strangers were incredibly patient and kind. They called the ambulance, supported me until professional help arrived, got me out of my backpack – which REALLY hurt – and called my friends. When I complimented the ambulance attendant on their speed of arrival, the young pompier told me they had just been passing by, so it was just luck more than skill. I was happy either way!

When the police came, I began to realize what an idiot I was…not only had I borrowed a scooter from the friend of a friend, I didn’t know what that friend’s last name was. Nor did I have their phone number, know where the insurance papers for the scooter were, or if it was even insured.

How does a 46 year-old professed responsible and competent individual borrow a motorized vehicle without obtaining this kind of important information? She stupidly thinks – I own a 650 cc BMW and I’ve been riding for ten years. I would never in a million years crash a scooter! That’s how. Yup, exactly. Stupid. Lesson learned. Not that I’ll ever be borrowing anything as expensive as a scooter again, but if YOU do, please think about me, kneeling on the pavement, each breath feeling like a hot knife slicing through the left side of my chest and being schooled by this female gendarme, giving me that look. The look that CLEARLY said “you are ridiculous, Anglophone.”

I won’t bore you with the details of my ambulance ride (but I’ll share the pic! You have to keep your sense of humour – it WAS the first time I had been in an ambulance…) nor of the tests (did I mention they brought me to a teaching hospital? It was like an episode of Grey’s Anatomy – minus the bright lights, cameras and all the good-looking doctors. But they managed to pack five people into the room with me while they did an ultrasound to make sure I didn’t have internal bleeding) or the morphine… Well, maybe I’ll just say a little about the morphine. Addiction is bad and morphine is addictive. But sometimes it can make you feel MUCH better when you’re in a lot of pain. Just saying.

And my poor friend Bari Lyn, instead of having her garden cleaned up and her car vacuumed, came and sat with me at the hospital for hours (I broke three ribs, bruised my left arm and scraped my ankle but everything else seemed fine), drove me home and then got my drug prescription filled at the pharmacy. I love that woman. She is kind, patient and wonderful. Kate is extremely lucky to have her as a mom. And she only reminded me two or three times what we were SUPPOSED to be doing instead of hanging out in a hospital!

Don’t make me laugh – it hurts too much. But then they up your morphine and its all good again.

Post script:

I’m feeling better now, even if I’m still in pain. While I still get little pangs of “what an idiot I was”, I’ve accepted people make mistakes and moved on (literally and figuratively).

Travel medical insurance is a VERY good thing… Don’t travel without it.

More posts are coming about the trials and tribulations of traveling while injured.

And if you’re worried about the scooter, it is still drivable, it only had a few scratches on it, thankfully. It was brought to a garage and as far as I know, it has been reunited with its rightful owner.

My definite lack of scooter skills

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