Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Caves and Wound Care

Today I went in the late morning walking around the town of Viang Xai, and I stopped at an Indian restaurant in the center of town to grab a bite to eat. There I met a French guy named Quentin and a German woman named Lotta, and they told me they were going to the Viang Xai caves in the afternoon. I was talking to Quentin about my accident. He had been in a motorcycle accident just a couple of weeks before himself, only he had his girlfriend on the bike with him. His scabs were much more healed up than mine were. It turned out that Quentin and I were staying at the same hotel. He was supposed to check out, but needed to defer so he could see the caves. I told him he could keep his stuff in my room if he wanted, but the guy who ran the hotel was OK with him just staying in the room a little longer, so he didn't need to.

I had wanted to see the caves, which were where the Laotian government stayed underground while the US was bombing the crap out of Laos. But I was planning to spend most of the day on wound care for the injuries that I sustained in my motorcycle accident. I decided to defer that to the late afternoon and evening, and went along with them to the caves.

We met a little before one in the afternoon to go to the visitor center for the caves. There are only tours for the caves at 9 in the morning and 1 in the afternoon, and we took the one o'clock tour. You can only go into the caves with a tour guide, but if you are not around for one of the tour times, you can get a private guide during the day for a little more. The tour was 60,000 kip for foreigners; Laotians get a cheaper price. The caves were far apart so the tour offered people bicycles for rent, but the tour guide had a motorbike, so Quentin and I asked if we could go back to our hotel and just get our motorbikes. The guide said that would be no problem. Quentin offered to take Lotta on his motorbike; I would have offered, but I could barely grip the handlebars with my had injuries. Lotta was a little reticent to ride with two guys who had just wrecked their bikes, but she finally agreed to do that rather than rent a bicycle.

The caves were amazing. They were natural caves that had been expanded with blasting, and there were all kinds of structures constructed in them for the government to operate. The tour was three hours long, and we went through many different cave systems.

Quentin was a chiropractor in France, and wanted to travel around the world for a while before going back to work. He said he could work almost anywhere if he wanted. He told me that the wounds in my palms would heal better and faster if I dug the gravel out of my palms. He had had to do that himself when he wrecked his bike. That did not sound like fun at all.

Lotta headed back to her hostel after the tour, and Quentin was taking off for Sam Nuea, which is maybe an hour or so away. I headed back to the hotel to do the wound care that I had put off until the end of the day. It was excrutiating getting the blood-soaked gauze off of each wound slowly. I soaked the wounds in saline solution that I made from taking about a teaspoon of salt from the Indian restaurant, and the gauze was coming off about a half a millimeter at a time. It took quite a long time to get it off. I also was able to take the first shower I had taken since the wreck (but there was no hot water so it moderately sucked...I only washed from the shoulders down) after I got the bandages off, so I was able to change clothes also, and get ready to hopefully do some laundry tomorrow.

Then I wanted to let the wounds air out for a while before I put new gauze on them. I put some peroxide on them, and then let them air out for a while. I also got out my pocketknife and started digging some of the gravel out of my palms. Nope, that was no fun at all. Then I put new bandages on after a couple of hours of letting the wounds air out. It was a successful mission in wound care, though I might still have some gravel I need to work on still in my hands.

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