I couldn’t watch as Adam prepped his needle

I couldn’t watch as Adam prepped his needle. Good Lord but 10 cc is a lot. As he zeroed in on one of my veins with needle poised, I asked Adam when last he’d applied an injection intravenously. 

“Don’t worry. It’s all under control. Left arm or right arm?”
“Maybe go with the left. The guy yesterday did the right arm. When last did you give one, Adam?”
Adam told me “Don’t sweat it. It’s just like falling off a bicycle, you never forget how.”
“When, Adam?”
“About forty one years ago” said Adam as he made a move on one of my veins. My veins are big, almost bigger than my arms.
“Oh.”
Rather worryingly, Adam ignored his own advice and commenced sweating. The needle slipped into the vein. Apart from intense pain, I never felt a thing. Instantly, a boiled egg haematoma popped up.
“Shit.”
“How about you try my right arm? It worked for the guy yesterday.”
“Good idea.”
There was no need to apply a tourniquet. Already my veins were bulging alarmingly. “Shit.” Again, another boiled egg haematoma. Adam upped his sweat output to buckets. “Let me try another one.”
“Ok.”
“Good. We’re in.”
“Ok”
“Shit. We’re not in.”
“Ok.”
“How about we go intramuscular instead?” Adam asked.
“Ok.”
Adam applied pressure to the plunger oh so gently but going in, the 10 cc of muti thudded into my buttock, subtle like a croquet mallet. Apart from squealing like a girl, I remained brave throughout.
Two down, just twelve intravenous antibiotics to go. What fun.

“How about we look for a clinic or hospital this afternoon to give me the next jab?” I asked Adam conversationally.
“ Great idea.” Impossibly, Adam looked more drained than me.

Jaap and Adam nursed me on the 50 km ride from the Farm House to Iringa. My finger wasn’t throbbing as bad as it had the day before. Maybe the antibiotics were working. Mostly I rode one handed but still the back of my hand had swollen alarmingly by the time we stopped for breakfast outside Iringa. Adam checked in by phone with his doctor friend in Zimbabwe. The increased swelling wasn’t good. Worse case scenario, I could lose a finger or worse, apparently. Better to have an ultrasound soonest, said the doctor. While the other riders pushed on through Iringa, Adam and I headed for the Iringa hospital.

Iringa is a pretty town perched high up on a hill, about the size of Mutare but busier and much neater with zero garbage and litter. Eventually we found the hospital. Signage in Tanzania is in Swahili only,,which is a snag for lazy English speakers. The hospital was busy busy. Before I could have an ultrasound, I needed to register. Which was again a snag because the queue for registration was a hundred deep and not moving. And I still had another 90 km to ride.

Enter Dr Faith, resident physician and nice person, just as I was leaning towards pushing on towards our night stop regardless. We told her what the ride was about, etc, etc. Dr Faith looked at my hand, made a phone call and told me to wait. She’d asked a surgeon to come and have a look.

Dr Mwashambwa arrived, looking like he’d just stepped off the golf course. Straight away, he zeroed in on the cut on the finger which by now was looking angry, red and swollen. Whilst I was trying to translate ‘Local anesthetic please’ into Swahili, he stuck me in the finger with a scalpel and a bucket of pus gushed out. Instant relief . And even more relief when he told Adam better to move from intravenous antibiotics to oral ones for the rest of the Tour.

I rode the rest of the 90 km of the day’s ride with a huge sense of relief. All was good in my world again. I love Tanzania and her people.

I especially love the countryside and the changes in vegetation we’ve ridden through. After Iringa, we rode into thorn scrub, sort of like the bush you get riding into Bulawayo. And then just as that was getting boring, we bumped into the most amazing escarpment, thick with trees, none of which were flamboyants or jacarandas. I did see a mukwa tree which made me think of home. Just as we started dropping down the escarpment to Mtera Dam below, I saw my first baobabs, short, stunted and looking cold and out of place at 1250 meters a.s.l.

The further north we get, the more Masai we see. Impossibly tall, haughty and with legs like mine, they are a very impressive people. The words ‘legs like mine’ and ‘impressive’ sound weird in the same sentence. I like the Masai a lot. But for their spears and swords, I’d hug it up with them.

Somehow Ryan and Bill found us the funniest little guest house in Migoli, a tiny spot on the map,misspelled by Google Maps. The guest house is all bling with shiny tiles and hole in the floor toilets. Adam and I raced the sun to get there, arriving at 18.15 with 151 km on our Garmins. We’ve dropped down to 700 meters from 1800 in Iringa. That means we’re going to have to climb back up again but we’re not too fussed. The hard yards of the Southern Highlands are behind us.

A huge shout out to the Zim community here in Tanzania. They’ve shown us the love. While I was being poked and prodded, the rest of the Old Legs played golf at the Mafinga Club. Huge thanks to Peter and Shanna SJ, Janet Sanders, George and Jane Bottger, Jason and the list goes on, for your hospitality and for supporting our cause.

Back home in Zim pressure is building like the pressure in my finger. 18 hour power cuts are taking their toll. Staff at Zimra, the state revenue collection agency, have apparently asked if they can pitch tents at the office because they can’t afford rent or transport anymore. Some thing has to give. Here’s hoping it bursts like my finger, and all the dirty pus comes out so the healing can begin.

Help us help Zim’s beleaguered pensioners by going to https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/oldlegstour. In Zimbabwe, transfer to Bulawayo Help Network via their CABS Platinum Account number 1124733450 or their
Ecocash merchant number 139149.

Until my next blog from somewhere near Dodoma, survive, enjoy and pedal if you can – Eric Chicken Legs de Jong

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