I’ve struggled with this next post for the last few months. I’ve debated and continue to debate whether or not to write it. But I’ve decided until I finally just get it out, it will continue to sit in my head and take up much needed space!
For anyone that is new to this blog, SORRY! You’re kinda jumping in at the end when there has been a whole 10 years of back story! I don't tend to hold back in the blog and this time is no exception. So, if you would rather not keep reading, that's cool. I’ve decided to write this for everyone who has been along for the crazy RIDE! For those of you who started following along back in the days of me getting kicked in the head by a bush buck, getting sick up a mountain and then getting carried and dropped down a mountain, the meningitis mishap in Zanzibar, the mice fiasco in Rwanda, Walter the 10 inch worm, the massive theft in Mwanza which resulted in the loss of 7 years of documents, or any of the adventures we’ve had on this ten year, never-ending voyage! I’ve decided to take you along for one last ride. You’ve come this far with me… I can’t leave you out now.. although maybe I should and maybe you would rather i did. Just remember, the upside of reading these stories is that you don’t have to live them! :)
So, I’ve often described Tanzania as that abusive boyfriend that keeps kicking the crap out of me and I keep willingly going back for more. Well this year, prophecies were fulfilled…. Although, the dude who kicked the crap out of me certainly was not a boyfriend. He was and will continue to be, a stranger. The next part is hard to write and hard to read, so if you don’t want to keep reading… now is the time to stop.
So, on July 29th, at 6:00am while out for a morning run in Kisesa, Tanzania (the town I’ve lived in on and off since 2012), I was attacked by a man with a knife. I will spare you many of the details but basically, I was out running in the town. A man in a track suit and runners came up behind me. We greeted each other and he started jogging beside me. After a minute or so, he stopped and grabbed me by the neck and pulled out a knife. Initially he asked for money but when I couldn’t provide any (it was 6am and I didn’t have any on me)… he pulled me off the road and proceeded to beat, cut, and rape me..... The event ended when 2 girls came out of their house to begin morning chores, heard the commotion and started screaming “THIEF”. By this time, the damage was done and the attacker let me go and ran off.
The minutes, hours, days, and weeks that followed were a bit of a blur. I once again had the pleasure of navigating the terrible Tanzanian medical system (highlights or rather low lights include – needles breaking, freezing not taking, visiting 4 clinics until finally finding a place that had tetanus shots in stock, having a doctor complete the police report and then asking for a bribe, and being given ARV meds that are no longer used due to their harsh side-effects). After that, I got to deal with the horrendous Tanzanian police who are some of the most corrupt people in the world (low lights on those interactions include being told I’m fat, I should eat less and exercise more – all this only a few short hours after the attack). I then got to deal with my Canadian Insurance company (EXTREME low lights include being told rape was not covered by insurance, they may or may not cover a flight to Nairobi to get proper treatment for my injuries, and they needed to verify with higher ups whether they could cover the removal and follow up treatment of the stitches I got for the massive cuts to my fingers – yeah, apparently Canada is no better!!). After dealing with ALL of that on the day of the attack, I then made my way to Nairobi to stay with my friend (the amazing Carla Unger and family) and get the treatment I needed.
The adventures continued for 2 months after the initial event, it included surgery to get the tendons and nerves repaired in my index and middle finger on my left hand (the 2 days in the hospital after surgery were an adventure in itself - the nurses were happy to see Carla and I finally leave), follow up surgery on the middle finger when it wouldn’t heal which involved removing skin, tissue and blood vessels from the ring finger and sewing it on to the middle finger and then sewing the fingers together for 2 weeks (It took “crossing my fingers” to a whole new level)! That was followed by a third surgery to separate the fingers which of course came with its own adventures on the operating table! However, thanks to my incredible hosts (The amazing Unger family) and support from family and friends, I survived! And although not everything that doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.. it does make you smarter! My fingers may never be the same and my hopes of being on the Canadian Olympic Volleyball team are officially over.... but on the upside, I have learned a lot in the process.
So, there it is. This is perhaps the shortest blog entry I've ever written. I guess I should clarify the title. The more I think about the, the more I realize Bitter is the wrong title for this post. I did it more for the play on words but it is inaccurate. I am NOT BITTER. In fact, I am far from bitter. I'm incredibly grateful to be alive and almost completely unscathed. (Two little fingers on the left hand is so minor in the grand scheme of things). I know too many people in Tanzania who have had far worse incidents with worse results. I have a friend who lost her right arm in a bus accident. Another who broke both legs after being hit by a car, a dear friend who lost his sister-in-law and her baby in child birth, and most recently and tragically, one of the girls from the sports program – and Tabitha’s best little track star, lost her life at age 7 in a house fire. For those reasons, and many more, I am so grateful for my outcome.
Wilemina (Wile) - our track star who sadly is no longer with us.
So, that's the last adventure for now. I'm sure there will be more in the future but right now my focus is trying to get my fingers healed. Thank you for reading. Thank you to everyone for all your support over the last few months and the last few years, through the ups and downs, twists and turns, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I could not do what I do without everyone’s support and encouragement.
Asante sana. Thank you so much.