Caprivi Strip, 2014 Part 25

by david on May 13, 2015

“Spidey” sense and stitches.


We were on the way to waterhole number three when a young warthog broke cover and crossed our path. Byron stopped the truck and told me the Chief has added a pig to his want list and asked me if I want to shoot it. As all my rifles were back at camp, I said no. He then asked if I minded if he shot it for the Chief. I had no objection, so he grabbed his rifle and headed toward some cover at the 10:00 position from the truck. I stepped out to stretch my legs and I waited for the shot. About a minute later, the .458 went off, and then I saw a warthog running an evade and get-the-heck-out-of-Dodge pattern as fast as its little legs will go. Before the report of the rifle had completely faded, Byron’s dog was out of the back of the truck and running after a wounded and thoroughly PO’d pig. Next thing I saw was Byron chasing after the first two, with Angel hot on his heels. I watched until the two of them disappeared into the bush about 150 yards away. I am not in any way related to Spiderman so I can’t claim to have a “Spidey” sense, but one of my senses was screaming at the top of its lungs. I am not quite sure if it was the 6th, 7th, or 8th sense but something told said to get back in the truck and shut the door. No sooner than I accomplished this than the barking starts. I heard another report from the .485, and then silence.

So much for my ESP skills, right? Fast forward about 60 seconds – Byron came out of the bush at a very fast pace, holding his right hand in his left up tight against his chest. My immediate thought was that his rifle malfunctioned and blew up. As it turned out, it was not the rifle that shredded his hand. I do not remember if it was Peter Capstick or Robert Ruark that said it was the dead ones that get you but Byron should have paid heed to those words. Byron had tried the old trick of using the tip of the tusk as leverage to break the pig’s neck and finish the job. Even though mortally wounded and 98% dead, the pig managed to get the first lick in and had used his razor-sharp lower tusk to slice through the meat of Byron’s thumb all the way to the bone.

I grabbed the first-aid kit from behind the seat, and my training kicked in. First, I washed the wound with an unopened bottle of water. Then I dried the wound with clean gauze. Next came a liberal amount of antiseptic, a little antibiotic, a nonstick pad, and a little tape to hold it in place. I next positioned his thumb to force the wound closed and then I bent the thumb into the palm of his hand and secured it there to restrict movement. I hoped there’d be just enough pressure to keep the bleeding from starting again. By the time I had finished with the first aid, the guys had already retrieved the offending warthog (Angel had been the one to shoot it after Byron came up short) and put it in the back of the truck. I made sure the guns were unloaded and secured (I did not want any more accidents). With that done, I looked over at Byron and he looked pale and like the ground was ready to fly up and hit him in the face. I asked one of the guys to grab a cold Coke while I eased Byron onto the running board. I convinced him to sit there long enough to drink the Coke while I returned to the first-aid kit for some pain killers. After being asked what I was looking for, I was told there were no pain killers, not even an aspirin. It seems that it was against the law (stupid law).

I volunteered to drive but being 8-10 kilometers away from the road Byron figured he’d better do the driving in order to expedite getting medical attention. The plan was to drop off the pig and the ducks at the conservancy office and then drive the 70K to Katima and the doctor’s office. With our plans set, Byron called into the conservancy office to let them know he had been injured and we were on the way in. Would they please have someone there to unload the game so we could be on our way? Five minutes had not passed when they called back and asked us to dispatch a zebra stuck in a mud hole on the way in. He said he would do it and promptly hung up. I proceeded to give him the stink eye and told him he was stupid. I then asked if I could have his guns and truck if he bled out before we got to the doctor’s office. There was not a real danger of that happening, but I wanted to make my point of thinking that was not a smart thing to do. It must have worked because he acknowledged I was right and turned back to our original heading.

The phone rang three more times before we got to the office asking him to some shoot the zebra. Each time, we explained the situation and told them we were coming straight to the office to drop off the game and then head straight to the doctor’s. We finally made it to the office about 10:30, dropped off the game and headed to Katima. We made it just after 12:00. It was just after the clinic closed for lunch and it would not reopen until 2:00. Plus, there were already patients waiting for the next slots. Off to Dr. #2, who shut his doors at 12:30. We made it at 12:25, but he agreed to see us. It took an hour but Byron finally got in and got stitched up. I have never felt as sorry for someone as I did for Byron as the doctor gave him the Novocain to numb his thumb. It made me hurt and I was all the way across the room. The stitching and bandaging did not take too long. With a script for an antibiotic in my pocket, we headed to the pharmacy. While we were there, we also restocked the first-aid kit.

On an interesting side note, what do you think the doctor’s office visit, procedures, sutures, antibiotic, and supplies cost, without any insurance on Byron’s part? I was guessing about $1,200 – $1,500, but, boy, was I wrong. The whole bill was the equivalent of a whopping $27.00 in US dollars. Our cost management groups could sure learn a thing or two.


Friday: Pain Meds, ducks, and in doghouse

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