Alpine Amnesia, Loosing Your Memory While Traveling; Weird Travel Part-2by Thomas Wikman
Oct 13, 2011 (Updated Oct 16, 2011)
The Bottom Line Medical Emergencies may occur while traveling abroad. You should take that into account when traveling abroad. Also accommodations from Hell do exist.
No, I did not drink too much beer. I hit my head and lost my memory. I had joined a group of friends on a ski trip to southern Germany, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Bavaria to be exact. It was about 30 of us. We chartered a bus and drove from Uppsala in Sweden down to Denmark and then through Germany. I should add that Garmisch-Partenkirchen is located on the border to Austria and the famous mountain Zugspitze is visible from the resort.
We were staying at a youth hostel, which turned out to be quite an experience. At ten a clock in the evening a loud speaker came on and a commandeering voice begin speaking in German. My German was good enough at the time that I could understand it (that's not true anymore). The voice stated that it was time to begin bed preparation and it ordered us to go to the bathroom and brush our teeth. It also stated that by 10:15 all music and talking was forbidden and all doors and windows would be electronically locked so that no one could leave or come in. By the 10:30 all lights would be turned off. As the voice finished the lights began to dim.
This made us nervous as two of us were still outside. So we opened one window to prevent it from electronically locking and one of us went outside to look for them. Five minutes later the commanding voice came on again "Achtung, Achtung, ....", and as it did the jokes started flowing. The voice came on every five minutes to tell us what to do.
Then about 10:15 the loud speaker came on again but this time it was a group of young people screaming in German telling us to rebel against the hostel management and refuse to brush our teeth and sing and make noise and then they started singing rebellious fighting songs. Then we heard a brief struggle and the singing stopped. The management had won. I should add that the two outside the hostel were found and they climbed in through our window at about 10:30. In the morning at breakfast we talked about our experience and we were just in disbelief. I guess you get what you pay for. It was a cheap place to stay.
The ski slope was overall great. I and a few friends started skiing in a very steep double diamond slope with a lot of moguls and a warning sign. The slope was so steep that if you stood straight on your skis and stretched out your arm you could touch the slope. I admit that skiing in this slope was a little of “showing off”. One or two days later I arrived at the slope and a sign stated it was closed because it was icy and dangerous. However, I went anyway, lost my balance and allegedly flew through the air about 30 feet before I landed on my head and left shoulder.
I should mention that what I am telling you now I was told. I have no memory of it. My arm was badly displaced and it was very visible. Allegedly it was essentially hanging on my back. I stood up and tried to put on my skis so I could continue down the slope as some Germans were screaming at me to stop. They took off their skis and ran down the slope and held me because they thought I had gone crazy. My friends, some who had seen it soon showed up. Someone called the emergency and a medical snow mobile showed up but it stopped at the beginning of the slope because it was not possible to drive down with a snow mobile. They called a nearby pist machine that was able to get down. It took me down where an ambulance was waiting.
One of my friends who also happened to be German followed me. At the hospital in Garmisch-Partenkirchen it was determined that I had a shoulder displacement, that I had torn a few things, and crushed some glands (worst part), and I had a mild concussion and shock and amnesia and no pain sensation as a result. He told me I was unusually talkative and discovered and rediscovered my shoulder displacement about ten times. The fact that I was rambling crazily, could not remember who anyone was, and could not feel pain, really freaked out some of my friends and I found out later that some had been extremely upset.
I had a Swedish medical insurance card with me, which I had left at the room at the hostel instead of having it in my wallet. Since I could not remember where I was and barely who I was I was not of much help. Therefore they had to discharge me sooner than they probably should have. The first thing I remember was lying in the bed at the youth hostel with my arm in a cast and three of my friends sitting on chairs asking me questions like “Thomas do you remember my name?” About three days are gone for ever.
On our last day, as my memory had almost entirely come back, I discovered something very unpleasant. In my bag there was a book on statistical mechanics, which prompted me to remember that I was supposed to study statistical mechanics on my vacation. I had a final exam in statistical mechanics in just a few days. I should say that when I came back to Sweden I talked to the Professor and told him I had gotten amnesia and had my arm in a cast and I asked for an extension. He told me it was among the better excuses he had heard but since my left arm was in a cast and I was right handed I still had to take the final exam in statistical mechanics on schedule. Well I still passed the exam, but it was tough.
The moral of the story is; when you travel make sure you have a plan for medical emergencies, and obey the signs. Also check out your accommodations beforehand, for example, read reviews.
I am planning to write a few more weird travel essays
I am planning to write a few more weird travel essays
Part-1: When I was caught in the Soviet custom for smuggling undesirable literature
Part-2: About when I got amnesia in Germany (this one)
Part-3: When I helped plan the unification of Europe in Innsbruck, Austria
Part-4: Bizarre events while interailing in Europe
Finally, I would like to add this essay to Jennifer Kate's Geography write-off since it is about travel, which is related to Geography.