Dive Aid

Kay leaves hospital at last. All his news.

Last Updated: 16-Feb-2005

My dear friends and family all over the world,

First of all, I would like to thank all of you for the moral support, gifts, cards, phone calls, sms, donations...during the past weeks. It gave me a reason to see a reason through everything and the strength to carry on....

Finally it has happened, more than 7 weeks and 11 operations later I left the hospital in Bangkok.
For those who didn't get any info yet I will give a quick recap of what happened to me on Dec 26.

It was a quiet, beautiful sunday morning and I just finished a dive briefing for my two student besides the pool of the resort, a mere 50 metres away from the beach.
Before jumping in the pool I quickly walked back to the dressing room to put my swimming trunks on, walking past our small dive office around 10.15 I saw it coming. A big black wall of water already full of shit and debris.
So fast, unescapable and no time to run or even shout.

The only reason I still live (out of approx 40 people in our resort,guests and staff, to my knowledge only 2 survived) is because I could brace myself against the back wall of the office and didn't get the hit full on.
Left and right I saw the water rushing past and seconds later the wall gave way and off I went.
For the next 10 min I was pushed more than 1 km inland, pushed under 4-5 times, everytime struggling against the debris to come back up and stay afloat.
Twice I was convinced I wasn't going to make it, when I got trapped underneath a car. I still don't know how I've done it but with lungs bursting and screaming for air I found the extra strength to free myself.
Exhausted and thinking it was finally over, the water slowed but I was pushed towards a house, I couldn't go left or right, I felt the debris from behind piling up and slowly crushing my chest as I came closer, just before being crushed also that house collapsed and the way was free again.

When it finally stopped I managed panting and completely exhausted to struggle my way in between fridges, cars, leaking gas bottles, dead people and tons of undefinable debris, to a piece of dry land.
I ended up in some remote area, on a hill with only a handfull survivors and completely cut off from civilisation.
It was 10.30 (I lost my t-shirt, pants but not my dive watch) and I would spend the next 7 hours here lying and waiting. Badly injured but still alive.
God knows why again the Americans came to the rescue but it was my friend Paul (Paul, I am eternally in debt with you, your actions saved my foot. I hope one day I can repay you, I will be your dive bitch f.e.).
By that time, 5 PM, he managed to get me down to a road and a car and to cut a long story short 2 hours later I arrived in the small hospital of Takua Pa that was already flooded with wounded.
Like many others, allthough seriously injured, I was left lying on the floor for the night without any sort of treatment. There were so many in a life threatning situation that got understandably priority.
With the help of my Thai girlfriend a second miracle happened. She managed to convince a hospital in Surat Thani (200 kms away from Khao Lak) to send an ambulance to come and pick me up.
When I arrived there, finally after more than 36 hours my by then horribly mangled legs were attended to.
My right foot was so infected that in order to save it almost all the skin on top had to be cut all the way to the bone. Because of the severity of my infection (I had already 40C fever) I had to be evacuated again to a more specialised hospital in Bangkok where I arrived on Dec 30th.

Now all my injuries are slowly healing, 40 stitches in my left leg, 10 in my left foot and after a 6 hour plastic surgery skin was grafted from my left thigh and skull to cover the massive gap on my right foot.(I have a beautiful 45(!) stitches Frankenstein scar on my head. The day before the intervention the plastic came to explain the procedure and not to worry about the scar on my head. With a big smile on his face he said the hair would cover it.... Obviously he missed something there.)

I still have a long way to go being mangled and bedridden for so long, I first have to learn to walk again, build up muscles (you might be surprised how quick they are gone and how difficult it is to get them back) and stamina ( I walk, shuffle for 10 min and I am out of breath).

But eventually this will all heal and get better, emotional damage is more difficult to repair.
For those who weren't there, don't try to imagine what it was like, it is impossible. The devastation, destruction, sheer desperation in mortally wounded eyes, the dead everywhere will haunt our dreams for a long time.

Many of my friends didn't only loose dive equipment, house with everything in it, a business,... all these material things can be replaced, but allthough we live we lost our life.
I can not describe any beter than Joakim did in his Liquid Adventure how difficult it is to cope with that.
From the 26th of Dec until now the clock stood still for me, but now out of the hospital also I will have to face reality and learn to cope with life after the tsunami.

Sara and Keith, Paul and Karin, Jo and Klaus, Joakim, Su, Amanda and Emily, I miss all of you so dearly and know how difficult it is.
But we still live, and eventually something positive will come out of this, we just have to keep believing in it and make it happen.

I want to end with a message, not a cliche, but straight from the heart of all who have seen there lives shattered so quickly.
If you are happy, try to enjoy every minute, if you are trapped in an unhappy life, change and try to find some hapiness. It can end very quickly, even on a beautiful sunny sunday morning....

Vaya con Dios

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