Tuesday, 17 December 2013


10th - 16th Dec 2013

Broken collarbone

Oh dear! Monday morning, still recovering from the previous day's 'lunch', I went on another tour of the farm on a motorbike. Great fun but fell off. Hardly moving when toppled over after nicking an upright on one of the banana pulley supports, or perhaps slipped on a banana skin. Fell on my shoulder which made a rather sickening crunching noise as I landed. The subsequent trip  to a surprisingly clean and smart clinic in Ndola to be x-rayed resulted in being told that my collarbone was broken and required surgery.
Amazing; it's the first bone I've ever broken after surviving unscathed riding horses ( racing and hunting ), Cresta, skiing, free-fall parachuting, rugby, military training, backgammon, poker and several other dodgy pursuits. How irritating. The motorbike was undamaged.

Left: The pulley support archway which I failed to negotiate. Still took a photo with a shaky hand.

By good fortune my host knew of an excellent doctor in Johannesburg ( South Africaa ). Also GD and I have a mutual friend who, coincidently, lives near the clinic from which said doc operates. Resisting the temptation to try the hospital in Lusaka I made plans to to fly to Jo'burg and hoped that my insurance would cover this little set-back.
I rang up the insurance company and, being honest, mentioned the motorbike. Big mistake. This resulted in a lengthy interrogation of 'What was I doing on a bike? Was I wearing a helmet? Did I have a licence? Was the bike insured? Was the farm insured? etc. etc'. As soon as I rang off I was told by all listening that I was a bloody idiot and should have said that I had fallen off a chair putting up Xmas decorations ( we aren't having any ), or similar. Too late. Now rather panic stricken that they would find any excuse not to pay up, plans were made to go to SA ( currently in the throws of burying the late Nelson Mandela ). Then we were told that the doc ( Dr Mark Ferguson ), whom I later discovered is the renowned leading osteopathic shoulder surgeon in South Africa, had completed his 'operations list' for this year and would try to find someone else.  Oh Blimey. Then got a call back from his secretary to be told that he was going to make time for me and to get down to Jo'burg for an examination on Thursday and an op on Friday. So quick and helpful.

Down to Jo'burg and rescued by our mutual friend, Jeannie ( her house and maid right ), I proceeded to have a marvellous few days. Reported to the very smart Rosebank Sports Clinic and was given 5 star service by the cheerful and efficient secretary, Juanita, who helped no end in sorting out the recalcitrant insurance wallahs. A quick inspection by Dr Mark ( charming gent ) and all was set for an op the following day. He is obviously a bit of an expert, The Expert in fact.

Outside hospital treatment I was superbly entertained by Jeannie. I post this pic ( left ), which she will probably hate and hopefully forgive, of her lying in state on the 'stoep' of her very comfortable residence in a very posh part of Sandton. I also discovered a marvellous Zulu taxi driver who, when Jeannie couldn't do it, took me from place to place. He deserves recognition; namely Edward, of Quickcab, Tel. 0786745963. If any of you get to Sandton and need a taxi at a really good price with excellent service, I thoroughly recommend him.

Reported to the Rosebank Hospital, opposite the clinic, for the op at 0630hrs on Friday. Amazing treatment ensued. Swiftly led to a small ward ( one other occupant ) by smartly dressed nurses. None of the "Hello Matthew and how are we today" crap, it was all most polite "Good morning Mr Sample", changed into the surgical gown, and visited by the anaethestist, a dashing young rugby enthusiast, Richard, who was full of good humour and bonhomie. A visit by Dr Mark to make sure all was OK with a cheery chat and last, but not least, a nurse to show me the menu for a rather delicious looking menu for lunch apr├ęs operation. On being wheeled into the operating theatre there was further banter including discussing holiday plans with the assistant tool holder who was due to go off to Vietnam for Christmas. I don't remember anything else until waking up back in the ward entirely pain free and feeling rather hungry. A further visit by Richard and Doc Mark who told me I could go home whenever I wished. It was still only 9.00am but I was keen to stay for the promised lunch and passed the time chatting with the other chap in the ward who had had his knees replaced; a keen rock climber as it turned out. At some point I was taken for a confirmatory x-ray and had a visit by a very pretty Africaans lady 'physio' who gave me some advice on doing exercises to loosen my joints. A metal plate had been screwed onto my shoulder. Lunch was as delicious as expected. I think I wandered off at 1.30pm to say goodbye and thanks to Juanita, the helpful clinic secretary, do some shopping and have a glass of wine or two. The whole experience was most convivial and totally pain free; not even feeling sore or rough at any point after the op. To be honest I rather enjoyed myself! Many thanks to all involved.
Warning: Don't mention motorbikes ( or any other machines ) when claiming insurance.

My flight back to Ndola was not until Sunday and so another couple of jolly days was spent being entertained by the redoubtable Jeannie. Never any pain in my shoulder and no need for the painkillers which the hospital had given me as a precaution, so much wining and dining, watching England getting thrashed by the Aussies and a bit of shopping even though most of Jo'burg was shut down due to the Mandela funeral. Jeannie does not have wi-fi hence the delay in posting this.

Left: The repair job. The metal plate fortunately didn't set off any airport detector alarms.

Back via a rather chaotic and crowded 'O.R.Tambo' ( ex-Jan Smuts ) Jo'burg airport to Ndola and the Battledore bananas. Recuperation, and not much should be needed, will be enhanced by copious supplies of wine and whisky. Battledore farm is not noted as a 'temperance' hall.

Found Gazza ( right ) and co. much as I left them. Further travel to follow hopefully, although getting around the vast empty Zambian countryside is not easy ( unless you fly ) especially as the rainy season is starting in earnest.

OK, that's the end of my little travel hiatus and all's well that ends well.

PS. Gazza has, apparently, often been mistaken for the actor Peter O'Toole, something which he has played on, unless it involved being scammed for money. Sad to report that P. O'Toole died a couple of days ago. A  great loss for GD.

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