It was New Year’s Day 2016 and Josh Bryan was off to a fast start. He’d turned 27 the day before and was atop a scooter a long way from Aurora, where he co-owns a residential contracting business. With his younger brother ahead and older brother behind, he raced down a road on the island of Ko Pha Ngan in the Gulf of Thailand. He gripped the handlebars and leaned in as he turned the scooter around a corner.
A patch of loose gravel sent the scooter and his life spinning out of control. Bryan wiped out. The femur in his left leg shattered, while the right one snapped in two. There were no health care facilities in Ko Pha Ngan that could handle his injuries. He endured a ferry ride to neighboring island Koh Samui – a relatively short trip unless you’re in excruciating pain, as Bryan was.
His troubles were only beginning. The hospital in Koh Samui was ill-equipped to deal with his traumatic injuries. Surgeons tried to stabilize his shattered left femur with plates and screws and attempted to join the broken bones on the right side by inserting a straight slotted metal nail. The results were disastrous. The left femur had large sections of dead bone that triggered a massive infection. The nail in the right femur failed to provide the stability necessary for it to heal properly. After the surgeries, Bryan drifted in a fog of pain and suffocating heat that was relieved only by an oscillating fan.