Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A Shocking Tale

The Man himself with his Landy

Spare a though for poor Darren - a true friend that i met in Namibia. He'd been on the road in his Land-rover for over a year having driven down from Morocco, and a further 12 months later he has now reached Dar Es Salaam. He writes to me the following:

Africa never fails to surprise or shock!!

Sadly for me, I was literally shocked on Sunday.

I was badly electrocuted by the shower at the fancy lodge that I was camping at just south of Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania. Somehow I am alive when the doctors said my heart should have given out.

After taking a swim in the ocean I went into the shower block to have a quick rinse. I turned on the tap of the shower. No water came out so I reached up to the water pipe above the shower head to see if there was any pressure in the water pipe. For some reason there was a lot of electricity running through the pipe. My hand was firmly grasped onto the pipe and I wasn't able to let go or move any of my body. If you have ever touched an electric fence or similar you will know that your muscles clench up and you lose control of them.

So I was stuck with my hand on the pipe for about a minute I estimate. It was extremely painful, but also very weird. It took at least 10 seconds to figure out I was being electrocuted as it was hard to figure out what was causing the pain and strange sensations all over my body. I tried screaming but wasn't able to make much noise I think. It dawned on me that I was about to die in Tanzania stuck to a water pipe. It seemed a cruel and premature way to die, but for a second I did wonder what happened next.

For some reason I could move my head a little and so started to thrash it about as much as possible, trying to shift my weight I guess,I don't remember much. Somehow I managed to shift enough weight that my feet slipped and the weight of my body broke my electrified grip on the water pipe. I fell to the floor smashing my head badly on the wall as I fell, and my elbow badly on the floor. I remember finding it funny that neither of these hurt at all ( at the time).

I crawled outside with my heart racing, hardly able to breathe or talk. I couldn't walk as all of my muscles were tight like they had cramp. Some people found me and I was put in a taxi to the hospital. In true African form the taxi ran out of fuel on the way to the hospital. I flagged down the next car and the surprised family was kind enough to drop me off at A & E at the (good) Agha Khan hospital.

I had some heart test and the doctors said it was ok. I felt like I had cheated death. But only just.

I've spent the last few days in a 4 star hotel courtesy of my travel insurance. I am very weak, every muscle feels like has had a 2 week nonstop workout, so I am mostly just resting, which is a nice way of saying lying in a heap on the bed. My body feels like it weighs 3 tonne. The doctors said the electricity destroys some of the essential things your muscles need so it will take some time for them to rejuvenate. So all quiet on the travel front for a little while....
One week later and he is still badly shaken and heading for further treatment in Nairobi.


  1. My immediate thought is that your friend needs to be looked at an tested properly by a specialist.

    He is not out of the woods and there can be neural damage as well as damage to the the heart muscle.

  2. Thank you for your concern.

    He left the Land rover in Dar Es Salaam and took a flight up to Nairobi where the medical facilities are somewhat more advanced for a full health check. Fortunately he is ok but told he should take a month recuperating, Fortunately with no deadlines to make he has the time to do this. His insurance company is putting him up in a smart hotel where he tells me he is ordering copious amounts of mango crumble from room service.

  3. Mango crumble sounds good :-)