Tuesday, May 29, 2012

It was all good just a week ago...

After a week confined to my bed and unable to walk, I feel its time to write.  I am going a bit stir crazy and have been asked the same questions repeatedly.  So I feel like a blog might be a good way to share my experience with everyone.  I have also searched online quite a bit, in moments of complete boredom, to read about what to expect when someone breaks their ankle.  I figured I would contribute with my story as well.

So here goes....I'll start my story in Belize.  Where this all happened.  My husband and I were in Lamanai, Belize on day 4 of a two week vacation that we had spent months planning.  We were so excited to be in Belize and experience the culture, history, and nature of the country - we were also scheduled to be tested for our PADI Scuba Certification on Ambergris Caye - so it was a big trip for us.

Day 4 started like our other days in Lamanai had, we woke up and had a great breakfast, visited the local Mayan village, took a long nap during a huge thunderstorm, and then we headed out to the New River for a sunset cruise.  After the cruise, we spent the evening at the restaurant of the lodge, where again, there was another huge storm - it is the rainforest after all.

Once the storm passed, my husband and I headed back to our lodge, which was down the hill closer to the river.  I remember us talking about how dark it was outside, and then the next thing I know, I slipped and fell.  The steps were made of stone and because of the recent rain, they were quite slick.   I just remember screaming and crying, and feeling a pain unlike anything else I had felt before.  My husband asked if I could walk, and I knew that I could not.  Thankfully, he carried me back up the hill to the restaurant - it had cleared out but the staff on duty gave us something similar to Icy Hot for my ankle.  We elevated my ankle and since I could move everything - we thought maybe it was just a sprain.

My husband carried me back to our cabana down the hill, and I must admit, I was still in shock and in tears.  The pain was unbearable.  I don't think either of us slept that night.  I actually remember waiting for the clock to read 6:00am because I knew reception would be back on duty at the lodge at that time.  My husband headed up to reception first thing in the morning and began making phone calls (there were no phones or televisions in the cabanas, yes, we were really in the middle of nowhere).  He made arrangements to move our flight so that we could fly back into the USA that day.  We still didn't know what the diagnosis was on my ankle, but we knew we didn't want to continue our vacation like this.

When it was time to leave the Lamanai Outpost Lodge - all of the staff were so helpful and accommodating - this really isn't the place to be when you are disabled - so my mode of transportation was a piggy-back ride from my husband - everywhere we needed to go prior to leaving.  Typically - Lamanai isn't accessible by car - to get there from the airport on Day we rode in a van for one hour, then rode in a boat down the New River for an hour - needless to say, I was NOT looking forward to this journey!

The lodge's manager offered to call a plane to pick us up.  For a small price (I would have paid anything at this point honestly) a small 4-seater plane flew into Lamanai - they actually have an airstrip - and then took us directly to the Belize City Airport in 15 minutes - totally worth it.  Still a painful, bumpy ride, but I made it.

Once we landed at BZE - a wheelchair awaited me - thank goodness.  I was not able to put weight on EITHER of my ankles at this point.  A wonderful and highly recommended taxi driver named George met us also.  We loaded up all of our bags, and me into the taxi and headed directly to the Emergency Room.  The waiting room at the ER was packed, but apparently if you are willing to pay more money, are crying in pain, and have an international flight to catch, they can see you right away.

So off we went, and I was admitted into the Belize City ER - this ER is a bit more laid back than any others I have visited, and we waited a few hours for the doctor to arrive - he was "on his way" for quite a long time.  During the wait, I did have x-rays and was administered a pain medication through a shot.  I learned that I had broken both bones in my right ankle and sprained my left ankle - I lost it completely again.

When the doctor arrived in what appeared to be golf attire, with no white coat, my husband had to hold me down while he injected local anesthesia into two places on my ankle - again, I was experiencing a serious panic attack at this time - something about receiving injections in a foreign place is just scary to me.  The doctors also applied a temporary cast to my right leg so that I could travel back to the United States with some support on my ankle.

Let me help to better paint this picture for you.  All the while I am losing it, and my husband is holding me down, George, our taxi driver is in and out of our room - apparently the whole "family only" rules don't really apply here? Not sure. He's keeping count of how much time we have to get back to the airport to catch the last flight to Miami for the day.  "You have to leave here in 30 minutes guys"...."OK guys you only have 15 minutes"....'We should have left 5 minutes ago..."  George also has a gold ring on every finger, and he continues to tell us he thinks God wanted this to happen to me. Not now George - please.

Belize is also a culturally diverse country of Hispanic, Native, Caribbean and Mennonite people - I surely stood out in this hospital and had to be wheeled through the waiting area for xrays - I still wonder what everyone who saw me was thinking!

As soon as that cast was on my leg and we paid our bill I was rushed out of the ER and climbed into the back of the taxi - when I tell you that George SPED back to the airport - that's an understatement - but without him we would have missed our flight for sure!  We arrived back at BZE and checked int our flight with no issues.  There were delays in Belize and Miami due to storms, so we didn't get back to the RDU until 1:00am the next morning.  I was in so much pain and just completely exhausted.

The story doesn't end there though -as soon as we left RDU - we headed straight to the Emergency Room here in Cary, NC.  I needed to be seen by a doctor as soon as we landed, that's what the doctors in Belize had said.  Luckily it was a quiet night in the Cary ER - so I was seen right away, more xrays were taken, the cast was removed and a split was applied - another painful experience.  The best thing about this visit was that they gave me drugs!!

We got to our home and my husband, who was also completely worn out, carried me to our room (I still cannot put weight on either ankle, remember) - and we slept.  We slept for about 10 hours straight.  This was the longest 36 hours in my life - but we survived it.  We will be back to Belize to finish our vacation - but now starts the journey back to walking - its the little things I guess. 

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