The Day I Became the Village Idiot

There are many surrounding villages near the city I live in, here in China. One of my local friends invited a foreign friend and me to her brother’s wedding. The wedding was in a village 45 minutes outside of the city.

So, my local friend, my foreign friend, 6 other locals, and I loaded up in 2 cars and headed for the village early one Thursday morning. We drove through the dark, the mountains, and neighboring villages. The three people I was sharing a car with spoke Qinghai Hua (the local language in this area). They very rarely speak Mandarin to one another, unless a foreigner is actively participating in their conversation. My Chinese is no good… So I was not actively participating.

We made it just in time for sunrise. The sun slowly rose over the peaks of the mountains surrounding us. We went inside for a hot breakfast. Breakfast was basically lunch… They served us green beans and cabbage and soup that tasted like chicken noodle soup. It was amazing. Weird to eat lunch as breakfast, but amazing.

After breakfast, my two local friends, one of their brothers, my foreign friend, and I decided to go out to the river. The river was completely frozen over. So we started playing on the river. The entire time I kept saying things like, “be careful!” “don’t jump on the ice, we don’t want to take anyone to the hospital” … So on and so forth. We then moved on to sliding on the ice with cardboard we had found. From there my friend’s brother decided to “surf” down the ice. At that point I moved on to phrases such as, “children, don’t try this at home,” and “BE CAREFUL!!”.

All of the sudden I felt the urge to join in the madness. Why was I being so cautious anyway…?

 Village Idiot – The Video

Oh wait.

That’s why.

Feel free to watch it a few more times if you need to. Go ahead, relive my stupidity.

I became the village idiot Thursday, January 30. I even laughed for awhile after it happened … shock, maybe?

After I fell they all asked me if my leg was ok. I was confused until I looked down. My right hand was stroking my thigh, but my left hand was holding my right shoulder. I told them my leg was fine, but I was trying to figure out if I could move my hand and arm. They tried to pull me off the ground and I realized I couldn’t move my arm. I told them I thought I dislocated it.

We had to hike back up from the area by the river, which included a steep climb up a hill to the road. One of the girls told us her grandfather is one of the village doctors. So we went to 3 different places looking for him. That was fun. Walking all over a village looking for a village doctor, holding my arm in a makeshift sling from the scarf my foreign friend had been wearing. We gave up on finding him and went in search of a different village doctor. We had to go a little further into the village and to two different places to find him.

I knew it was a bad idea. I really did. A village doctor usually doesn’t have much, if any training. But, it was just a dislocated shoulder, and surely he could fix that.

Remember, I’m the village idiot.

The first place we went to had a ton of farming equipment and a vicious dog. We waited for 20 minutes and then were told the doctor was too busy to leave his house, but we could go there. So there we went. When we walked through the first entryway of his village home an even more vicious dog awaited us. I seriously thought I might get attacked by a dog after dislocating my shoulder. Luckily, Cujo (outdated movie reference) didn’t attack me.

We went inside to find the super “busy” village “doctor” watching tv with his son or grandson and smoking a cigarette. I sat down, my foreign friend beside me. The village doctor asked if I was ready and proceeded to put my arm back in place. CRACK At this point is when I believe my shoulder was broken. But at the time we all thought it meant my shoulder popped back in place. WRONG

They took me back to grandfather’s house, sat me on the couch, gave me weird Chinese medicine, and told me someone could bring me back to the city in the afternoon, it was 11:30 am at this point. We thought that meant 1 or 2. Around 1 we were told it would be 5 pm. We had called a friend during the wait to ask about the healing process of a relocated shoulder. Swelling and pain were mentioned, so I thought my arm swelling and the pain in my arm was all normal.


At 5 pm, one of the girls asked if I would mind waiting another hour. Ummmm…. No…. I would like to seek medical attention, please. We were able to get someone to take us to the city around 6 pm. When they told me the brother that would take me home was there I was excited and reading to get off the couch I had been sitting on for six hours.

Up to this point, I hadn’t cried. As I attempted to get off the couch I screamed in pain and started weeping. It. Was. Awful. I told my friend I refused to stay there and made her pull me off the couch. Every step I took was excruciatingly painful. I thought if I stood in the road and someone hit me with their car it might take my mind off the pain (+5 bonus points if you recognized the “Major Paine” reference). My friend had to push me in the car. I told her there was no way I was staying. So, she pushed me, gently, into the car. I cried. Again.

We started off down the road. With every little or big bump I started crying harder. It suddenly dawned on me to tighten my makeshift sling. Once tightened, bumps were nothing. We made it into the city and to the Red Cross Hospital. A friend was waiting at the gate of the hospital with hydros. PTL for narcotics. How fabulous they are.

We walked into the hospital ER, they sent me for an x-ray, after we showed them the video of how it happened. The x-ray tech asked me to straighten my arm. Heck to the no! I may or may not have thought and/or said swear words. They were in English, so she didn’t understand …

Went back to the ER from the x-ray, by this time the medicine I took was kicking in. Majorly. I started acting more goofy than normal and being obnoxious with trying to speak Chinese. Just trust me on the level of obnoxious I was being. The ER doctor began putting a cast on my arm to hold everything in place and keep it stable. The medicine really started to have an affect on me. I started falling asleep. Standing up. One of my friends was holding me up in the front, another holding me up in the back, and a third doing whatever the doctor or the two friends told her.

Days later, I went back to the hospital to have a CT scan to see if my arm was broken or fractured. Broken. Definitely broken. Matter of fact, the ball and joint of my arm that goes into the socket was in crooked and broken almost all the way off from the rest of my arm.

Oh joy.

Three days after that I went back to see the foreign doctor (he is Swedish). Surgery.

Oh joy.

All because I became the village idiot.


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