It was 5 years ago this week, July 22nd 2006, at 10.30 at night this tiny little .22 bullet was shot through my throat at close range by a couple of Haitians who I interrupted trying to rob the house. The bullet entered my throat, went through the top of my right lung and ended up stuck in my back, close to the surface. Local Dominicans and Haitians took me to hospital using a combination of carrying me, on the back of a motoconcho and a borrowed car, where the doctor did a tracheotomy - cutting in the wrong place so damaged my vocal chords - and I
then went in a clapped out ambulance to Santo Domingo where chest drains were inserted. I spent 12 days in hospital and then came home, and a couple of weeks later I was right as rain - apart from a dodgy voice. The bullet was moving around my back - you can see it in this picture and so it was cut out with a Gillette razor blade a few weeks later.
Being shot doesn't hurt, I didn't feel a thing until around 12 hours later when I felt like I had been run over by a bus. The chest drains actually hurt more. Your body seems to have this amazing ability to produce pain killers and something to stop you panicking - I was very calm. It was just uncomfortable not being able to breath as one lung had been punctured and the other was collapsing as the chest cavity filled with air and blood
When your lung is punctured the air has to go somewhere and it actually went under the skin and filled the top half of my body. My head swelled to double its size as did my arms and my boobs! And if you touched me where there was air, my skin squeaked! Interestingly although I never lost consciousness, I can only remember up to being in the car going to the local hospital and then nothing until just before the ambulance arrived at the hospital in Santo Domingo. At that point I was being bagged with oxygen - and the oxygen ran out. I remember then very clearly signalling to my husband that I was out of air, by slashing my hand across my throat, and I waved goodbye to him. Seconds later we arrived at the ER. Unfortunately they will not begin to treat you without a deposit, and luckily there is a cashpoint machine right outside the ER to make it easy for you to get cash. My husband got the deposit out and a few hours later I was pronounced out of danger. Total cost was around 700,000 pesos which was around14,000 pounds.
So here we are 5 years later and this week we are all working! Number 2 step son has opened a cafe, which sells hot dogs for 20 pesos (30 pence), freshly squeezed fruit juices, and fried chicken and plantain chips for 60 pesos (one pound). Unfortunately various items keep disappearing from the house and turning up in his cafe. Knives, chopping board, stereo, extension lead, and there you can see husband, Danilo, sitting on one of the bar stools from the house. The other one disappeared from the house today as well. Still, the cafe is doing well, taking around 40 to 60 pounds a day!
And I am now working for an American couple, researching on line, translating from Spanish to English, and sourcing things for them. One of the things they wanted was muslin bags, and not finding them here, I bought some muslin and gave it to the local tailor to sew. His sewing machine has come out of the ark, but it seems to work well! His name is Feo which means ugly, but he didn't look that bad to me. He sits in the main street outside his little shop, and has a box next to him where people drop in their clothes to be mended. It costs around 20 pesos to have a pair of trousers hemmed - so I doubt he will be rich soon!