It’s been a while. I told you all about the hill climb, and nothing of the race.
Well, the race was awesome. It was hot and difficult and at times, painful, and I finished within the allotted time. For me, this was total victory.
Of course the story is more complicated than that, but it might be published somewhere sometime soon, so I won’t write it down here. (Stay posted.)
Suffice to say that I finished, I survived, and I am addicted. I want to do it again.
* * *
I also messed up my knee.
I fell down some stairs a few days after the race. I landed on the knee in question. I was not a happy woman.
I happened to be carrying my laptop at the time, which (like me) bounced on concrete, and did not enjoy the experience either.
One messed up knee, one messed up laptop, and a (slightly) bleeding foot. It was 10am, but I turned around and went right back inside, took some painkillers and went back to bed.
* * *
I went to the hospital in Cambodia, and they applied the latest in diagnostic technology: “If you walked in here, it’s not broken.” The doctor and the physio then both agreed that my knee was merely sprained, and that it would be good again in two weeks (doctor) or three weeks (physio). In the meantime, I was to rest it completely.
* * *
At first, I languished in my 4th floor room in a simple Khmer guest house in the town of Kampot. Hobbling up and down the stairs was suboptimal, as was being stuck inside. Then I moved to the Hideaway, out on the river, complete with bar and view. I was, tragically, too injured to drop into the river from the high dive or even just from the bar level; so I vegetated in a kind of post-injury stupor, just watching the river water go by.
After a few days they had another booking, so I moved to Meraki, another pleasant cluster of bamboo huts by the river. Meraki also has a bar, as well as tasty food. But don’t worry, I was never in any danger of starving: quite the opposite. I’d discovered the joys of Nham24, which is Cambodia’s equivalent of Uber Eats. I lay in my hammock beside the river and ordered delicious food at intervals, and tried not to be sad.
But I could tell my knee was not right in important ways. I could stand just fine, but I couldn’t bend it very far without pain around the cruciate ligament area. I couldn’t rotate the joint without it collapsing.
This gave me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach.
* * *
This whole time, my new friend Jenna had my back. She brought me track shorts for lounging in, cream cheese for my cravings, and the inimitably good company of herself and her dog Bullet. Every day she would check in on me, or come by for a beer.
Jenna is on the timing team for the enduro race, so we’d met barely days before I messed up my knee. But she knew what it was like to be injured in a foreign country, and she looked after me like family. I was unspeakably touched and cheered.
At the beginning, she had invited me to crash in her spare room during my convalescence but I was genuinely worried about intruding on her personal space. Surely she would get sick of having a total stranger limping around her house for weeks? But as the days passed we became friends instead of strangers, and when you’re injured in a foreign place there’s nothing you want more than to go stay with a friend.
So after two weeks I showed up at her house with all my gear in a tuktuk, and moved into Jenna’s lovelly home. We fell into an easy rhythm of companionship – me, Jenna and Bullet. Every now and then we’d load my hobbly self into a tuktuk and go on excursions to have brunch, or drinks, or go to the river. I met so many lovely people, and it buoyed my spirits.
Because here’s the thing: the doctor at the hospital was wrong about my knee. It wasn’t all better in two weeks. And the physio was wrong too: it wasn’t healed in three.