Now Playing: Back To Vietnam I Go!

Guess who’s back? Back again? Chard’s Travels is back. Tell whomever you want.

Pro tip to reading all of my blog posts from now on: Pay special attention to, analyze, and then pretty much ignore the last five paragraphs of my posts. I’ve written ideas in that have proven inadvertently but wildly outlandish in one of final five paragraphs in my last two blogs.

I was emotionally and mentally shaken when I discovered the first sign of my new writing trend. I was reviewing my previous blog posts a few weeks ago as I was working on another writing project. Here’s a passage from the 4th to last paragraph of “I Attended A First Birthday Party – Am I An Adult?”, the blog I posted the day before the accident (check out my previous blog if you’re curious about what “the accident” was that rendered me comatose, hospitalized me for three weeks in Vietnam and Thailand, and sent me home from Vietnam about 10 months early):

Oct. 5, 2015 – …I have more free time to manage. I fill it with books, movies, TV shows (about to finish season three of Breaking Bad!), analyzing my monthly budget, and devising these things called “five year plans” where I get to pretend that everything in my life is totally in my control and will go perfectly for the next 1825 days. And you thought playing make-believe was only for children.

I was found on the side of the road with a fractured skull, cranial bleeding, and a laundry list of other health problems roughly 26 hours after I posted about devising a five-year life plan based on my life being totally in my control. Awkward.

For the second piece of evidence in my new trend, here’s a passage from the penultimate paragraph of “I Survived An Auto Accident And Am Back In America”:

Nov. 30, 2015 – Now to answer one of the most common questions I’ve received: What am I doing next? The answer is that I’m applying to jobs. I apologize to any common readers that this part of the post isn’t as exciting as pictures of wild monkeys or the beach or a story about a trip to Hoi An! But yes, I’m applying to jobs in America!

I started submitted job applications the week I returned. I also looked for apartments, my parents bought me a dresser, and I thought I had it all figured out. But as you’ve probably guessed from the title, I’ve changed my plans. I’m moving back to Vietnam to continue my teaching and adventures!

Reading my decision making process would be brutally loquacious for most, so I’ll keep it somewhat reticent. Per usual, ask questions if you want. I wanted to go back to Vietnam as soon as I remember learning I had to fly back to the U.S. about 10 months early than I wanted. I drew myself many charts, wrote papers, sent emails, and thought deeply about what I wanted my next step to be. An important factor at play was getting medical clearance. What a fun adventure that was!

The best word to describe my doctors’ appointments is “entertaining”. I have a deluge of quotes and stories I share whenever I can. Doctors have used a lot of different words to describe my situation and medical healing. Incredible, improbable, extraordinary, unlikely. One doctor, after looking at my CT scan, told me I’m extremely lucky I didn’t lose all hearing in the my left ear and didn’t tear my facial nerve. His medical advice: “You are so lucky. It’s amazing you can talk to me. Go buy a lottery ticket and open it in front of me. I want to be there when you win the lottery!” I also liked my traumatic brain injury doctor’s reactions at my last appointment. When I told him was moving back to Vietnam, he hugely rolled his eyes. I told him why and got lots of reactionary hand on forehead. Two ways lots of people have responded to me with many times. But he knows me well enough to know I liked his jokes, and he gave me full clearance to move back across the world.

As I’ve been telling people I’m moving back to Vietnam, questions have been flying like a game of Jeopardy. Here are answers to the six most frequently asked questions!

  1. When are you going back?

I’ll be back in Dong Hoi on March 3rd! I’ve made a little adventure for getting there. I’m spending this weekend in San Diego to spend time with my friend Karlee! I found out a few ago that my friend Alex is vacationing with his family this weekend in San Diego, so I’ll get to see him too! The three of us were Ohio State tour guides together, which makes the coincidence extra special. (I’ll also see my friend Hannah. Not a Buckeye alumna, but that’s okay.)

I’ll be landing in Hanoi on March 1st and will spend the next couple days visiting friends in the northern part of Vietnam. Then back to Dong Hoi March 3rd.

  1. How do your parents feel?!

My parents knew from the beginning that I wanted to return. One of the first questions I asked my mom when my memory came back was, “When am I going back to Dong Hoi?” She told me I had to return to the U.S. first. I then asked both of my parents in the Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State when I would return. They said that medical recovery was a prerequisite. So they knew from early on I wanted to go back and keep teaching! And have been remarkably supportive in my decision. They’ve been so incredibly and unimaginatively helpful.

  1. Where are you going?

Back to Dong Hoi in Quang Binh, the city I left in October! Friends, beaches, jungles, mountains, food, music, community – the list of things I’m excited to see again is long.

  1. Who are you teaching?

In Vietnam Episode 1, I was working with hotel employees. In Vietnam Episode 2, I’ll be working with school age children! Brings me back to my student aid days in high school when I was volunteering in a 1st grade class and in a 4th grade physical education class. Except now I’m the teacher!

  1. How long will you be gone?

Hard to say. Last time, I said I would be gone for 12 or 15 months. Made it about 2 months. So it’s a guessing game! Let’s start a betting pool. Whoever comes closest to getting my return date right wins the prize of me writing a blog post about it! Congrats in advance to the lucky winner. In reality, I haven’t decided how long I’ll be staying.

  1. Are you going to keep blogging?

Yes! I’ll be back to weekly posts.

I am so excited to get to go back to Vietnam. The past five months (granted, don’t remember the first month of the five #comaproblems) have been the most challenging, rewarding, mesmerizing, frightening, complicated months of my life. I’m eternally thankful for all of you. Thank you for the support texts, visits, phone calls, snapchats, forgiveness for things I said and did while medically and mentally unstable, and so much more. And don’t worry, this isn’t the paragraph that I’m making up! Kicking that trend with this post.

If anyone wants to talk more about the recovery, teaching, Vietnam, the color of my backpack, my favorite recipes, or anything else, let me know. Rfelty92@gmail.com is email. Or comment on the post. Or send me a carrier pigeon (RIP).

Can’t wait for Vietnam Episode 2! Happy days.

 

In the meantime, here are a few pictures from October 11th(ish) to the week I left!

 

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Coma Richard. The hospital put the wrist straps on me to keep me from pulling my IVs. I kept pulling my IVs out though, so they moved the IVs to my legs (until my mother told me that story, I thought my leg hair loss was from the accident). I would do a strong sit up, rip out the straps, and pull the IVs from my legs. So they ended up chest strapping me, and IVs stayed put. Ya boy is strong!
20151019_082220
Coma Richard. The hospital put the wrist straps on me to keep me from pulling my IVs. I kept pulling my IVs out though, so they moved the IVs to my legs (until my mother told me that story, I thought my leg hair loss was from the accident). I would do a strong sit up, rip out the straps, and pull the IVs from my legs. So they ended up chest strapping me, and IVs stayed put. Ya boy is strong!
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Found this photo with Michaella, the heroine who traveled to all my hospitals with me. After finding this picture and looking at my face, I had to apologize for anything I might have said to her since I was heavily medicated and don’t remember any part of her being there. Thankfully though she said I just tried to convince her to help me escape the hospital! I guess I did with the nurses too. A fun and unsurprising story my mother told me about my hospital ventures: My mother would stop in my room in the morning to say good morning. A nurse would be in the room checking on me. Then my mother would leave. When she would come back a few hours later, 5 or 6 nurses would be in my room talking me out of trying to escape! Happened daily. Medical wild child.

 

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On the day my memory comes back, I looked in the mirror and didn’t recognize the glasses I had on. I ask my mom where my glasses were, and she replied, “On your face!” Then she told me my glasses were lost in the accident and that I had picked out the pair I was wearing a week before. Here’s the pic of me picking out my new specs. You’ll notice I’m wearing one of my adored gingham button downs. Apparently I asked the hospital to let me where civilian clothes during the day. Anyone that’s seen me in a gingham button down, which is pretty much everyone who’s ever seen me, knows the hospital was letting me wear them so I would stop my escape plans.

 

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This was my favorite beer in Vietnam, and I found a store in Dayton that was selling it! Happy days.
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I loved the beer in Vietnam, but I also love American beer and was happy to get to have it again. I declared myself PBR King on Jan. 1.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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