The Accident at Tashi Lapsa Pass – Part 13: Recovery and ‘Home’

Today, we conclude Louise Currie’s harrowing experience trekking the Tashi Lapsa Pass in Kathmandu.

 

*     *     *     *     *

 

Despite being moved from the ICU/Recovery unit back to my room on the ward, I continued to encounter constant battles that – on the surface seemed inconsequential, but given everything that I’d been through – I just didn’t need to be dealing with.

On my second day post-surgery, it was clear that the bandages wrapping my leg were too tight, causing pain and discoloration in my foot. Re-applying the dressing and bandages to relieve the pressure could have been done quickly by a junior doctor or even a more experienced nurse but instead it had to wait until one of the senior doctors was able to do it – which turned out to be a full day later.

The cannula in my right arm for the purpose of administering IV antibiotics started causing pain and slowly a red rash began making its way from my wrist up the length of my arm. As with most things during my stay in the hospital, I was told that attending to this would need to wait until later when the doctor could have a look at it. I pushed much harder on this issue though, and before long one of the nursing sisters came and re-inserted a new cannula in my left arm.

On top of all this, the dosage of my pain relief meds seemed to be inadequate for much of the time. I was in far more pain than I needed to be and for longer than I should have been.

Despite all this, there were good things about the hospital too. The ward was kept clean and tidy and my room was comfortable and warm. Nursing sisters were generally kind and gentle. The surgical team – particularly the main surgeon who visited most days – was thorough, courteous and gave very rational explanations and recommendations for treatment.

By this stage my mum, Sue, had arrived (in rather a hurry) from Australia. Because she had been employed as a registered nurse for much of her working life, the senior surgeon was willing to discharge me early. He agreed that Mum could administer IV antibiotics and change my dressings at home.

The young woman responsible for liaising with my very responsive and obliging (Austrian-based) insurance company was efficient and helpful. I had visits from both the anaesthetist and even the radiologistl both of whom just popped in to say hello. Two days after surgery, the hospital physiotherapist visited and assisted me, very painfully, into a standing position on my good leg and then taught me how to move around on my new crutches. Thanks to the good sterilisation techniques they used in the operating theatre, and wound management afterwards I avoided any post-operative wound infections, which was a welcome change of luck!

 

Bijay Louise and Shanaia trekking Lamajura Pass in the Everest region, nine days prior to the Tashi Lapsa Pass incident.

Louise, husband Bijay and daughter Shanaia trekking Lamajura Pass in the Everest region, nine days prior to the Tashi Lapsa Pass incident.

 

It didn’t take me long though to want to go home. It seemed after a couple of days that the only reasons why I was still in the hospital were their very conservative approach to infection control and my continued need for IV antibiotics. Other than that, I didn’t see much of the nurses at all. We started to advocate for my discharge, and on the evening of Thursday, January 9th, I got to go home.

 

On the mend: Louise Currie and daughter Shanaia in Kathmandu, November 2014. (pic: courtesy Louise Currie collection)

On the mend: Louise Currie and daughter Shanaia in Kathmandu, November 2014. (pic: courtesy Louise Currie collection)

 

Apart from my family and the doctor, the most important people to me in those initial few days were those who were intimately involved in the drama of the accident and to whom I didn’t need to explain anything. Mingma, our trek operator, and Sanghe our guide, both came to visit at the hospital before I left. Lakpa’s wife also rang me and said that their family loved ours and they were so glad I was going to be okay.

 

Sanghe - who assisted Louise in the helicopter rescue and transportation to the hospital. 2013 (pic: Louise Currie collection)

Sanghe – who assisted Louise in the helicopter rescue and transportation to the hospital. 2013 (pic: Louise Currie collection)

 

Perhaps the most important person in all of this was Lakpa Sherpa, whom I finally got to talk to properly about 10 days after the accident. The first part of this story is as much his, as it is mine.

 

Louise Currie, daughter Shanaia, Bijay (obscured) and Lakpa Sherpa, with the Everest range in the background. Christmas Eve, 2013. (pic: courtesy Louise Currie collection

Louise Currie, daughter Shanaia, Bijay (obscured) and Lakpa Sherpa, with the Everest range in the background. Christmas Eve, 2013. (pic: courtesy Louise Currie collection

 

About Louise Currie

Originally from Australia, although I have been living in Nepal since 2005. I worked for a long time for an international aid agency in Kathmandu. I am interested in community development and having adventures in remote places. I am married with one daughter.

Comments

  1. Yvette Wroby says

    Hi again Louise,

    so here is the question (or one from a totally non physically brave person).

    Would you climb again?

    I am so glad you are back in one piece, though I imagine it will take awhile for all the bits to recover.

    Be well and healthy and enjoy your terrific family and the family of Almanackers.

    Yvette

  2. Hi Louise,

    I enjoy reading series of your writing and admire that you try to find something positive in such hard and tough circumstances.

    However it’s not good how some medical people treated you. You had already been suffered by the accident. You know, they should have been nice to you to reduce pain, stress and negative emotion. I don’t want to witness such situations by patients, especially when they are my friends.

    Seriously, I think hospitals over in Nepal need to hire communication and life coaches to improve their communication skills as well as their reputations.

    I wish you are getting better soon :)

    Yoshi

  3. Louise Currie says

    To Yvette, Yoshi and all other Almanackers who have read and/or commented on my story as it has unfolded over the past two weeks.

    Thanks for your support and encouragement.

    To those who might be put off ever going to Nepal and attempting an off-the-beaten-track trek – please don’t be. Trekking in Nepal is wonderful and thankfully the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of things going well.

    Do take out travel insurance (including rescue and evacuation) and select a trekking agency carefully. Ask lots of questions, including about how the agency would take care of you if you were seriously injured. If you are not satisfied, walk away. There are close to 2000 registered trekking agencies in Nepal. However, an important thing to remember is that price and the quality/safety of treks offered by Nepali agencies are directly proportional.

    And yes, I would go again. Maybe end of this year if anyone is interested in coming along…

    Louise

    ps. Lakpa Sherpa, who carried me down in the doko basket, will be leading another foreign group up Everest in May this year. It will be his 9th summit. Not bad for a day job, eh?

Leave a Comment

*