When? It’s the big question. When will I be cycling out of Dakar following the machete attack that left gashes in my left wrist and foot just over a week ago? I’ve been asking myself this every day since waking up from the operation. The simple and frustrating answer is I don’t know.

The good news is that I’m walking again. For the first three days following the attack I took permanent residence on my host’s sofa. When crutches finally became available (courtesy of the magical French woman who rescued me at the roadside) I was already hobbling around, and soon after walking with a limp. This is fast disappearing.

There is no significant damage resulting from the machete slash to my foot. In fact my left sandle appears to have taken the full brunt, with a deep cut into the side of the rubber sole. “You will need some new sandles then”, is the first thing my Mum said when I told her.

It is my wrist that’s the problem. The doctor paid his first visit three days after the operation, confirming that three tendons had been severed. These are the tendons that control my three middle fingers. At first I couldn’t move them, but the doctor reassured me in saying there would be no permanent damage resulting from the wounds. The nerves were left untouched and over the past several days I have gradually been able to move these fingers with increasing mobility.

When I asked how long it would be before I could ride my bike the answer was one month minimum. Perhaps if I was riding an unladen bike for 10 minutes in a park this would be the case. As much as I’d like to prove myself wrong, I feel the reality of cycling on African roads on a solo trip of this nature means the time period will be much longer. I won’t leave Dakar until I’m 100%++  fit and strong. For anyone reading who feels they can offer a second opinion, be it medical-based or just an experience of having damaged/torn tendons before, I would appreciate your comments here.

My wrist is in a bandaged splint and will be for the next two weeks. Following that it will require a lot of physiotherapy to regain the strength and mobility I need to continue. The thought of the tendons twinging and breaking again out on the road makes me nervous.

The patience required to get through this healing process may be one of the greatest challenges I’ll face on this trip. It’s a challenge I’ve never encountered.

I’m still heading to The Gambia to meet my Mum on April 6th. It’s a holiday she booked months ago and the distance from here is short. I will leave the bicycle and most of my gear in Dakar and have a clearer idea after that two week holiday of an estimated date of departure.

The hospitality, generosity and support of my hosts here has made life in Dakar unimaginably more comfortable than had I been returning to a budget hotel  following my discharge from the hospital. In fact I probably would have gone home, and if full recovery is likely to be many months away rather than weeks, this may be a better option.  It is something I have yet to decide.

The police have yet to report back on the theft of my SLR camera and other belongings. This comes as no surprise. My insurance won’t cover full cost of the camera equipment, but as photography plays an important part in the trip I’m reluctant to make do with a cheap point-and-shoot.

Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself and thinking where I might now be had I let go of those bags, I’m determined to use this recovery time constructively. Studying French, researching ways to improve my photography, editing videos from the clips I’ve taken over the months, writing gear reviews and possible articles – there’s much that can be done whilst those tendons are on the mend.

If there is something you’d like to ask, about any aspect of the trip or website, please don’t hesitate to get in contact. Now is as good a time as ever to catch my attention.

I’ll continue tweeting over the days and weeks and be sure to post back with more news on my recovery. Remember you can always receive this post as an e-mail by subscribing to the newsletter.

Donations to the Against Malaria Foundation are greatly received and always a boost to the motivation of the journey – 100% of funds go on the purchase of insecticide treated mosquito nets.

Before closing I want to thank those who’ve left comments in the previous post. It’s really encouraging and motivating to read all the well-wishes and know that people are following the journey.

Machete wounds