Circumnavigated

Well, a lot has happened since my last blog post. I’m not sure where exactly to start, but notably, I am not currently in Argentina, per my original plan. I instead completed my circumnavigation (and flew straight from Australia to the U.S.) last week. Also notable are the physical risks posed by local food systems, particularly when local food production involves non-“professional” farmers in spaces like community gardens.

Following an interview at Jane Street Community Garden in Brisbane, Australia two weeks ago, I hung around for a bit to chat with a garden member working on his plot. We both got called over to help lift a heavy bathtub, which was functioning as a plant-bed, onto a wooden frame a few feet off the ground. Long story short, my hand got crushed between the sharp-edged bathtub full of rocks, soil, and plants, and the wooden frame. My metatarsal (thumb bone) got shifted out of place, two bone fragments fell off my thumb, and my wrist was fractured in two places.

The gorgeous garden that did me in

After one surgery, two nights in the hospital, many nice dinner splurges, an unplanned road trip down the East coast of Australia, and about a billion zippers opened and closed with my teeth later, I’m now back in Chicago. Technically, the hand surgeon cleared me to travel on to Argentina, but then the hand therapist convinced me that opening and closing my suitcase would be really hard with one hand (true). Were anything to happen in or en route to Argentina—say, I accidentally hit my hand really hard against the plane window when waking up from a nap (happened on the way back to Chicago)—I would likely experience unnecessary stress and extra complications in getting appropriate medical care when and where I needed.

I have so much to be thankful for: I had 11 weeks of incredible trip around the world where I got to pursue the most fun and simultaneously interesting and meaningful research project. I cannot speak more highly of my experience conducting interviews with people involved in local food systems and cities around the world. While my research paper is still TB…started…and I don’t have any groundbreaking or concise, well-worded conclusions yet, it was simply so incredible to see how certain trends, successes, and challenges regarding local food manifested in and different ways within such different yet eerily similar contexts throughout the world.

At this particular moment, I have two things that I’m most bummed about: one, I’m currently queasy because I just took my cast off to wash my hand (the position my thumb is stuck in really grosses me out), and two, despite that conducting my research was the most fulfilling part of my summer, I am currently not motivated to work on my research report. To a practical extent, the combination of dictating into my computer and typing slowly with one hand, which is how I’m writing this blog post, sucks. But then on the other hand ( 🙁 ), the extra complications surrounding writing a report on something I was so incredibly excited about all summer is taking a bit of a mental toll on me.

But more things to be thankful for: I was injured in an English-speaking country, surrounded by people who were kind and caring and called an ambulance for me. I was sent to one of the best hospitals in Brisbane with one of the best hand surgeons in Queensland. If you see me in the next few weeks, I might be cranky because of all of the time I’ve spent on the phone with doctor’s offices and my insurance company, but that’s so insignificant given that those frustrations have nothing to do with my (good) health. Granted, despite that this is only a hand injury—not my leg, not something more serious—I’m currently quite challenged to figure out how to stay healthy and happy when I can’t do the physical activities that are normally so important to my personal well-being. I’ve increased my walking stamina significantly within the past few days, but I’m still finding certain limits, like when I tried to cut a potato with my left hand this morning and realized that for my own safety, I needed to step away from the sharp knife…

The paramedic & I did not get along, but he was still very supportive of my blog (photo creds to him)

Thankful for the U.S.’s short ambulance wait times

I plan to revisit the few Brisbane blogs that I began working on before the bathtub incident very soon; I’m ready for my feelings about my injury to stop lessening my excitement about my research. Additionally, I will be posting pictures of my x-rays once I retrieve my portable disc player from my basement. Or if you happen to be in Chicago and want to stop by, the Australians don’t store X-rays digitally apparently, so I have new decorations for my room.

Wallaby doctor > human doctor

Finally, thank you to everybody who supported me throughout all of my trip-related endeavors and happenings, from helping with my research proposal last fall to comforting me on the phone with doctors this August. Specifically, thank you to my parents, my sister, my boyfriend, Peter Civetta, Tara Mittleburg, Carol Narup, and the rest of the Circumnavigators who made this trip possible. And more blogs soon.