If you happened to read my post last week, then perhaps you noticed that a woman who is a trainer at my gym was hurt in an accident only a few blocks from the facility on a major boulevard. Her condition has improved somewhat, but that is hardly the end of her troubles.
Details are kind of sparse. It seems she was riding her moto home from a night out early Sunday morning a week and a half ago. Apparently, Poul pulled over and stopped when she noticed a car driving dangerously close to her.
I gather that the vehicle clipped her bike and tossed her onto the pavement. Poul was not wearing a helmet, an oversight that technically is against a law and more often honored in the breach (especially passengers) and less often enforced with anything approaching determination.
The car sped away, a common and usually successful tactic in such cases, never to be seen again. Unsurprisingly, the hit-and-run driver remains at large even though an accompanying gym employee scribbled down what he believes to be the number on the car’s registration plate.
Poul, whose bubbly personality has charmed me, was rendered unconscious and taken to one of the worst of mostly bad hospitals in Phnom Penh. There she lay in a coma for three or four days, her older sister and her three kids keeping a vigil. Because of her state, no attempt was made to repair a broken collar-bone surgically.
A scan of some sort was performed, probably CT scan, and another gym employee questioned Poul’s Khmer physician, who claimed not to know the results. He finally produced a scan report in French and then — get this! — said he couldn’t read it and didn’t know its finding. You can’t make this stuff up.
She also was being medicated, and it is not clear whether that led to her lack of consciousness. When she started to wake up several days ago, I am told, Poul seemed heavily drugged. She could move a finger or two, couldn’t talk and quickly reverted to sleep.
Last week, her family somehow got her to Vietnam, where the quality of health care is pretty good. An expat would have spent tens of thousands of dollars on a medical evacuation, but it is beyond the pale that the divorced woman’s family had the money for that. I have to conclude that they miraculously managed to get her to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) by bus or private motor vehicle. Frankly, I cannot comprehend how that was possible for such a seriously injured individual and no one at the gym seems to think it could have been otherwise.
Now hospitalized there and scheduled for surgery in a few days, Poul is said to be awake and talking.
Members of The Place gym and colleagues contributed funds to help her and the family. Full-time gym employees making as little as $120 a month — Poul probably earns only a few hundred dollars herself when working — donated $5 or $10 or more each, guaranteeing that they’ll miss a meal or maybe two or three meals.
It is impossible for me to get a reliable number for the total. Putting scraps of information together, I think it currently must be close to $2,000.
That is the good news. The bad news is that the sum is a pittance compared with the thousands of dollars Poul and her family already need and will continue to need as she recovers from the accident and its effects.
Even worse news is that the gym — which is said to be planning a $400 grant — has a firm policy of holding an employee’s job open only for three months.
Unfortunately, Poul’s complete recovery, which mean having the ability actually to train members, likely will last far longer than that term. Turnover of trainers is minimal, so there is little hope of her being rehired.
If readers of this post are inclined to help with a contribution of any size, please do let me know, and I’ll facilitate the donation. I hope some are moved to do so.
We all know that life isn’t fair. Although helmets purchased in Cambodia are hardly worth wearing, we also appreciate that Poul should have had head protection.
That said, I find it hard to accept that she should be punished over and again — by having been hurt, by in all likelihood losing her job, by trying to feed and house her family in the aftermath, by needing additional health care, and perhaps by having to borrow money at usurious rates with so little hope of repaying the debt any time soon.
Poul deserves better than the hand that fate has dealt her. Fair her situation is not.