Our Misadventure in Laos

Go to Laos, they said. It will be fun, they said.

On Friday, January 6th we took a 3-hour bus ride from our city to Paksé, Laos. On Saturday morning we set out to motorbike through a region known as the Bolaven Plateau. It’s a popular tourist attraction in Souther Laos and frequently taken on by unexperienced motorbike riders.

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We were about 15 miles out of town on the way to our first waterfall when the accident happened. A Laos man was riding a scooter on the right side of his lane. As we approached him he slowed down and moved over as if he was trying to pull off the road. Cole put on the brakes but we still collided and he pushed us off the road. Our bike fell over sideways and we both slid off onto the gravel along the road.

We stood up immediately to survey the damage. Cole had blood pouring out of his face. My knee was bleeding. The other man wasn’t badly hurt and started arguing with us about whose fault the wreck was.

It was at this point that I began to realize we had no phone service, knew no one in this country, and the nearest city was 15 miles away.

“Ma’am, I may have asked this before, but where are you from?”

It was at his point that I saw the most welcome sight one can see when searching for help in Southeast Asia: a blonde woman! She stepped out of the truck she was driving and asked if we were okay.

She spoke English and Lao, which was such a blessing! She loaded us into her car and her friend drove the motorbike back to town for us.

The entire car ride was spent with Cole asking the same questions over and over again. It was at this point that we clearly realized he had a concussion. His mind was on about a 3 minute loop.

Here’s a sample conversation:

Cole: “Chelsey are you okay?”

Me: “Yes, I’m okay. All I have is a scrape on my knee.”

Cole: “Ma’am, is my wife lying to me?”

Mookie: “No she’s really okay. You guys were very lucky”

Cole: “What are the extent of my injuries?”

Me: “You hit your head, your face is bleeding and you have a chipped tooth.”

Cole: “I don’t even know what day it is today. What day is it?”

Mookie: “It’s Saturday the 7th of January.”

Cole: “Ma’am, I may have asked this before, but where are you from?”

Mookie: “I’m from Florida, but I live in Laos.”

Cole: “Thank you for helping us. What day is it today?”

The ride to the hospital felt like it took forever because I was so worried for him!

Hospital #1

When we finally reached the hospital, Cole gave me a hug and broke down crying saying he’s so glad I was okay and he doesn’t know what he would do if anything happened to me. It was such a tender moment.

Mookie explained what happened to the medical staff and they cleaned our wounds and gave Cole stitches on his nose and forehead.

Mookie helped arrange an ambulance to take us to Thailand. I gave her the biggest hug as we left. I am so thankful God sent the perfect person to help us just when we need it. He is so faithful.

Hospital #2

The ambulance took us through the border quickly and Cole didn’t have to get out. In true Thailand fashion, one of the border patrol men came to the ambulance to take a selfie with us!

It was a long ride with Cole moaning in pain at every bump we went over. I thought we were going straight to our home city of Ubon but instead we stopped at a hospital about 30 minutes away from the border.

They changed the dressing on our wounds and let us use the bathroom. We got in another ambulance to go to the hospital in Ubon Ratchathani.

Hospital #3

We were finally back in our home city at a very nice international hospital. Cole was laughing, impressing the nurses by speaking Thai, and calling them mean as they cleaned his wounds.

He had a chest x-ray and CT scan. The results of both were clean. The English-speaking doctor diagnosed Cole with a moderate concussion. They told us we would stay overnight so he could be monitored. He was less disoriented now, but still asking “Where are we?”, “How did the accident happen?”, “Was it my fault?” etc. every few minutes.

Our sweet friends Gabbi and Carly came to visit us and brought me some dinner. It was great to see them and have someone else to answer Cole’s incessant questions for a while.

They left around 8 p.m. and we tried to get some sleep. Cole was like that one friend who won’t shut up at a sleepover. We had a hilarious time trying to ask for ibuprofen, which we soon learned is called “bo-fin” in Thailand.

I fell asleep around midnight and Cole finally crashed at 2 a.m. Unfortunately someone woke us up at 5:45 in the morning to change Cole’s IV. His memory was better in the morning. He could remember the date and was starting to remember Christmas and New Years.

Our friends came back to help us check out of the hospital on Sunday morning.

Road to Recovery

Sunday and Monday were spent resting, eating mac and cheese, and talking through the events of the weekend. Cole now remembers things up to the morning of the accident and a few of the events post-accident but says it feels like a dream.

On Monday we went back to the hospital to have our bandages changed. Cole got his tooth fixed by the jolliest dentist who gave him a lecture about flossing more often to get rid of “tar-tar.”

We are so thankful to be together, to have friends to take care of us, and that the results of the accident were not any worse! Thank you to everyone who has prayed for us and sent us kind messages! We are so lucky to have such great support systems here in Thailand and back home.

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