Smashed up in Sicily, part 1 | Monica crashes her motorcycle

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After riding from Sweden to Sicily, Monica Axelsson crashed her motorcycle on the way to Palermo.

It happened on the way to Palermo.

It was at the end of October and the weather was still warm in Sicily, but since I was planning to drive on the highway for several hours, luckily I took the decision to wear leather pants that morning. Normally I avoid highways cause I think they are boring. I should have done that this morning too. The plan was to experience Palermo a few days before I took the ferry to Sardinia and continue to a warmer place during the winter, but I never reached Palermo.

There was not much traffic on the highway, so my speed was high while I watched the beautiful surroundings. I enjoyed the freedom, the wind and the view. More mountains showed up in the distance closer to Palermo. I looked at the dramatic mountains far, far away and wondered how close I would come to them. Then I looked on the road again, and there it was. I thought ‘where in hell did that came from!’ This just before I smashed into in a large cement slab roadblock which appeared from nowhere and showed that the roadway ended. Still I can’t understand how the accident could happen and I really don’t understand how I could stop the speed so smooth and why the bike didn’t start to wobble. It was a miracle.

I stood still for a moment before the bike and I fell down on the street. My right leg followed the rest of the body over the bike. The lower part of my leg felt like a sack of potatoes. I realized that the right side of the bike had been destroyed and there might be a risk that I would have to amputate a part of my right leg.

Roadside rescue

Suddenly there was a guy next to me. I pointed at the bike and asked him to raise it up and said ‘ambulance’ and then think I fainted cause in the next moment there were several guys around me and I had no helmet anymore. That’s when the pain appeared for the first time. It was bearable from the beginning, just bearable, and I could stand it because the ambulance arrived quickly and I encouraged myself that soon I would get better pain relief and be operated on, like a mantra, soon…

A&E admin in a foreign country

They gave me pain relief at the hospital emergency centre while the police asked their questions about the accident. They messed up important things that they expected me to remember, and gave me a little tiny paper with a number that somehow was connected to the bike. I was so afraid to lose it, because it had become clear to me that I had the responsibility to keep track of everything, papers, my belongings and the practical things that had to be solved.

I thought it was strange that I, who lay there like a shocked and injured bird should be responsible for that little piece of paper. And that wasn’t all. I was also supposed to keep track of those parts of my luggage which hadn’t been transported with the bike. This meant that on top of me on a narrow little bed, there was my leather jacket, my leather pants, a big helmet, scarves, leather gloves, one of my boots and some papers from the police including the little tiny patch with the phone number.

BYOBlanket

The pain relief didn’t last for long. It culminated with chills when the pain returned. My body began to shake from pain even though I wasn’t cold in the beginning. I shook and froze but there was not a blanket to obtain in the whole emergency. One of the policeman found a solution and gave me a fire blanket, the ones in aluminium that make sounds as fast as you touch them. Then they drove off with me in the tiny bed with all the stuff into a far too small elevator where my ‘driver’ had to climb up to the base of the bed to make it possible for the door to close. The whole situation was tragicomic. We were on our way to the x-ray, and to hell.

They drove me into a small room after the X-ray, where two or three doctors looked at the damage and talked about how to handle it, I thought. I saw the leg was angled in different directions, but I felt safe anyway, because I didn’t expect them to correct it by hand, but they did, several times! They certainly knew what pain it caused me, but I saw in their eyes that they looked on it as a technical problem to be solved. I couldn’t do anything more than to howl when they stretched and pulled my injured leg. The pain was indescribable when the bones scratched each other as they were placed in a new direction. No pain reliever could help that. When they were satisfied with the correction, I thought the worst part was over. But it would get even worse later on.

Smashed Up in Sicily, part two

More from Monica

I quit a well-paid job as a planning architect, sold my car and went away to travel solo at the age of 51 with my old veteran motorbike.