So here’s the story

The word has probably gotten around that I broke my back falling of a camel.  Specifically, I have a compression fracture in my 3rd lumbar vertebrae.   I have been sentenced to three weeks of bed rest, and six weeks of wearing a soft back brace.  And to clarify, bed rest means not only no going out, but also no classes, and as little sitting-up as possible.  I am physically able to get up and move around, I’m just not supposed to.  I have lots of books and movies to keep me busy, and my classes are being sorted out.  So the situation sucks, but it could be much worse, and everyone is helping me and doing a great job of making sure this doesn’t mess up my life more then it has to.

And now, because I know you’re dying to know, here’s what happened:  I was enjoying a wonderful outing with my AMIDEAST peers at the pyramids.  Went into two different little tombs, and then we inside one of the pyramids!  I had never done that before!  We also visited the Sun Boat museum, another first for me, and I love boats, so that was fantastic.  You can see how much fun we were having in my facebook pics.  Then we came upon the camel riding portion of our outing.

It was a blast.  It was fantastic.  It was great.  Until it wasn't.  I should have known my camel was rogue when I saw its face tattoos.  Perhaps I should have been worried when the kids leading my camel said it had evil eyes.  Anyway my hardcore face-tatt camel wasn't really walking straight.  I was tethered to a string of two other camels, and so when my camel began going a stray I was untied from the pack.  I assumed I would be tied onto the tail-end, because my wandering camel wasn't making a very good leader.   Instead I was left on my own to steer my camel.  We went a little ways, but our pace didn't satisfy the camel boy, so he thought it would be a good idea to run after my camel yelling and waving his camel waking stick.  My camel was appropriately spooked, and began to gallop while simultaneously sit-stepping to get away from the kid.  I tried to hold on, but there is a certain point in the exceedingly bumpy camel gallop, mid-fall, when your brain just says "ABORT."  So I fell on the ground all the way from the top of the flailing camel, flat on the small of my back.  

The first think I did was get onto all fours and try to catch my breath, which had been knocked out of me.  Before I had regained the ability to speak two of the camel handlers were trying lift me to my feet  and give me water.   I had to push them away, because I was not in the proper state to explain medical emergency protocol.  I have been told by many people that I was not adequately panicked.  I lay on my back a while in the sand (most likely 50% camel poop), and one of my peers asked of I had hit my head, and if I could move my toes.  He seemed to think I was laughing him off, when in reality communication was just beyond me at that point.  He had the right idea, I probably shouldn't have moved at all, but I proceeded to ride out of the desert on the back of my program directors camel.  

The boy who scared the camel clearly felt bad, but had no idea how to deal with the situation.  He kept crowding me and offering me water or a better camel, and kept asking, "Are you happy?!" No, kid, maybe I'm not as mad at you as I should be, but I'm not happy.  When the incident first happened my program director was telling the lead camel dude that this was unacceptable, and safety should be their first concern.  The immediate response was, "Do you want to hit him?"  Of course not!  "I'll hit him later," was the response.

We rode the camels as far as they would take us, and when we got off the camel it decided to lay down immediately, crushing my leg into a concrete wall.  But that was only for a second.  Then I was free, and I lay down on the sand again.  Apparently someone in our group asked why I was laying in the gross sand, but then someone reminded them, I was already filthy.  The next task was to walk to the bus.  I think I was running on a lot of adrenaline, or maybe I was just trying to not freak everyone out, but when the pain became frightened intense I started crying and had to sit down at some guys stoop where he was selling nik-naks.  He was not very happy to be bossed around.  Oh well, we walked on further.  It seemed like a substantial distance to me, but my perception is warped.  I lay in the aile of the bus a while, then we were taken home, where we got in a taxi to al-salaam hospital in Mohandessin.

And so this trip became my first trip to the hospital as the patient, my first X-ray, my first CT scan, and my first broken bone.  Egyptian hospitals are interesting because you pay between every step, instead of one bundled sum at the end.  Cassidy and I were both shocked when it turned out something was actually broken.  Speechless in fact.  Even more shocked at the bed sentence.  And that's my story. 


  1. So is the saying now . . . "the camel that broke the Starr's back?"

    OK, Kent made me write that.

    1. I was trying to think of a clever pun along those lines, but mine were all about as lame as Kent's.

  2. So what's the short story or symphony you always knew you'd write someday when you had time?

    I guess we'll know in 3 weeks ....

    1. I was actually thinking about a play, but it has yet to come to fruition. But I think I feel a poem or song coming at least.