Argh! I did it again—having a mischievous intoxication and getting hospitalised. It caused me five stitches and a night in an emergency room in a foreign land. Eventually, I recovered in a week. That wasn’t the first time I got to that point, just in a different circumstance. With those repetitive experiences, what have I, or ever, learned from the latest fall and the past ones?
Before the Fall
After long hours sitting in front of the computer, to wrap up the day, I ventured out for dinner but ended up having local craft beers and pub food. I had been drinking, vaping, and sleeping badly for days. That wicked momentum led me to get more chacha shots at a regular pub nearby. That should have been enough for the evening.
Instead of catching the train back, the voice of the devil enticed me to a gay bar. After all these months in the city, I hadn’t been to one. And I ordered myself a nail on a coffin—Long Island ice tea. The last thing I remembered was sipping the cocktail.
The next thing I knew I was in an emergency room, wired to an IV tube. It was all blurry. There were some photos taken in the ambulance at 2 am. And I asked a nurse to take a photo of me around 4 am. I was on and off all morning until a doctor stitched me up at 6 am. He spoke English and answered my question that I had 5 stitches. They released me at 7 am. So, I had been in the ER for five hours. Interestingly, no one asked for my identity and I didn’t have any ID with me.
Ironically and fortunately, the apartment was just a few minutes walk from the hospital. I got to bed, slept until 3 pm, and spent the day resting.
The next day I walked back to the hospital to get the wound cleaned. It was an opportunity to go through the Georgian healthcare system…soberly. I was sent back and forth a bit for the administration—being in the record, eventually. The staff were very helpful.
In the doctor’s room, he cleaned the stitches. We communicated through Google Translate. While we were wrapping up, a big biker-like guy got in and told me in English when the stitches could be removed. Apparently, he was the one who sewed me up that night. “Do you remember?”, he asked. I said I didn’t, of course not. Nonetheless, it was surreal to get a chance to personally thank him!
Six days later, I returned to the hospital to get the stitches removed but had no clue how to get in the queue. It was busier than the weekend I had the wound cleaned. So, I just showed up at the doctor’s room. They told me to wait and so I did in the hallway and observed the environment until they called me in to finish the job.
Physically. Apart from the obvious stitches on the left eyebrow and some scratches on the face, the left glute was sore and the right thumb was a little swallowed. It indicated there was no fight involved. That would have been a completely different story. Anyhow, the wound healed steadily. No gym, just some yoga sessions during the recovery week.
Financially. It cost 30 GEL for the administration at the hospital and around 20 GEL for bandages and cleaning supplies from local chemists, about US$19 in total. That was it for the medical expense. It’d be ridiculous to claim it from the insurance. The hospital’s full name was High Technology Medical Centre, University Clinic. So, I guess it was a public hospital. I didn’t think the Georgian universal healthcare would cover foreigners. Regardless, I got through without a fuss but with guilt for not contributing as expected.
Mentally. Retrospectively, the motorcycle taxi accident in my uni years made me unstable for weeks as well as when I was robbed in Sydney. The most recent one in DC, when my front tooth was chipped as I fell, took me a couple of days to pick myself up. In comparison to this one, the full rest on the first day was crucial to focus my mind on the recovery rather than beating myself up. The home isolation in Istanbul had mentally prepped me well.
For decades, I have made bad choices, faced the consequences, patched up the damages and learned something:
Pacing yourself. Obviously, I should not get carried away. But being honest with myself, intoxication is my Achilles heel. I don’t think I’ll be alcohol-free soon but these troubles remind me to pace myself. Tbilisi is a safe city. It’s easy to let your guard down. Certainly, never again, I’ll have a strong cocktail after shots of local spirit while getting high. Be aware that the deeper you get, the more vulnerable you are.
Taking photos. Your mobile phone is your best friend to document unexpected incidents, especially, when you are drunk by yourself. Photos can be used as references and, even more concretely, as evidence if the aftermath escalated. You can also monitor the healing progress from everyday selfies.
Being resilient. Inevitably, shit happens and the damage is done. Then, how do you direct your body and mind to bounce back from it? It takes time to recover but does not mean you are wasting it. Downtime can be used to reflect, learn from it, and strategise the next actions.
Lastly, as a disclaimer: “kids, don’t do this at home.” I’m still learning.