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Date: 24 Jan 2010 05:13:00
Title: It Could Have Been Worse - Scarborough Marina, Queensland, Australia

Ok, here I am writing the blog that Anne was going to write.  Unfortunately she is busy doing the work that I should have at least been helping with.
 
It kinda went like this:
 
We had been making very good progress preparing Harmonie to return to the water.  Anne and I had finished using the cleaner/wax on the hull.  I had finished most of the sanding and prep of the bottom for paint.  The water line was masked.  Our assignments for the day were; Anne start the final coats of wax, Don clean the marine growth out of a few crevices, prime the bare spots and start painting.  This is always a good time when you are working on the bottom of a boat.  The really dirty work is pretty much done and the boat is starting to look pretty good.
 
We were in a bit of a rush to get this work done as there is a significant surcharge in the yard when you are doing work to the outside of the boat.  We were also renting scaffolding to do the work as we don't carry such things around with us and the yard doesn't supply it.  Our goal was to be done in less than a week so allowing for one more week to do stuff before heading off to Melbourne and our road trip.
 
So this sets the stage for Don to do one of the more stupid things of his life.  With primer, brush, and a few other tools in hand, I head off the boat via the aluminum ladder.  When Harmonie is on the hard, her deck is about 13 feet off the ground.  As I stepped onto the ladder, I slipped and started to fall.  Paint can and tools go flying and realizing that it would be in very bad taste to fall from this height, I manage to link an arm through the ladder, partially break the fall and at least orient myself upright.  Then I hit the concrete.
 
Anne, who had just applied wax to the first section at the front of the boat, can't understand why I am throwing my tools around, until she sees bunches of people running for the back of our boat.  The first thing I noticed was that when I took my hand away from the back of my head it was covered in blood.  My ankle and jaw also hurt.  Not a huge amount, but it was noticeable.  I won't relate here the words that came out of my mouth.
 
In no time there was three ambulances at the back of our boat.  I had never had an ambulance ride before.  I would have been happy to get up and go sit down somewhere, but no one would let me.  They did the back board routine, wouldn't let me move and carried me to the stretcher.  Within minutes I was hooked up to an EKG, blood pressure monitor, blood oxygen monitor, and was breathing oxygen.  A little while later I had a tap in my arm for blood.
 
When we arrived at the hospital, the stretcher did not stop between the ambulance and the examination room.  I was moved immediately to another stretcher and my clothes cut off.  There were at least eight doctors and nurses working on me, chest x-ray, pelvic x-ray, fluid IV, EKG, neck and back assessment, more blood and lots of questions about what happened and how I felt.  At this point I am feeling pretty good.  I know they are going to have to look at my head, but the bleeding had pretty much stopped. My ankle hurt a little, probably a sprain.  They told me that my heart and blood pressure looked very good.  I'm going to be out-a-here in no time.
 
Can you just imagine that neither Anne nor I had signed a release form.  I hadn't been asked if I had insurance.  I hadn't been asked to produce a credit card.  I had a doctor standing next to me almost the whole time.  Anne, who was in the waiting area had a patient advocate (there were several of these around) taking care of her questions.  Anne gave them the information on our insurance card and contact information  Nothing further was needed.  I guess you can tell that we were not in the US.
 
As soon as the preliminary examination was complete they moved me to a non-critical waiting area.  Anne was brought in to be with me.  They told me that they still needed to clean up my head, put stitches in if necessary and x-ray my leg.  If everything was OK, I would be on my way in no time.  After about a ten minute wait, I was off to x-ray.  Three x-rays were taken of the ankle and one of the knee just to be sure nothing was wrong there.  We had the results in about five minutes.  While we were waiting for the results, my emergency room doctor asked if I had ever broken any bones.  I pointed to my two little fingers and one toe.  After she reviewed the x-rays, she said, "You can add two more bones to your list!".  Convinced it was just a sprain, we were shocked.  But there's more...Then the Orthopedic doctor comes to see me and explains that the two leg bones are both broken where they meet the ankle.  He goes on to say that it is likely that I will need an operation to put things right, but it will depend on how things look after they put a cast on.  Now I'm not feeling so good any more.
 
So off we go to the minor repair room.  Hey, at least I'm in better shape than most of the people we see in the other rooms.  A temporary cast goes on and I'm back at x-ray and then back to the minor repair room.  I was only gone ten minutes at the most.  The doctor had already seen the x-rays and said it was very likely that I would have to have surgery.  Two stitches in the head later, and they handed me some crutches, gave me a quick lesson on how to use them, and told us we were free to go, as in walk right on out.  We moved to a waiting area to await a ride and some clothes.  The marina general manager had offered to come pick us up at the hospital, a drive of about 40 minutes.  Anne called him to say we were ready, and to please bring some clothes for me (all I had on at this point was a lavender hospital gown and my underwear - my favorite boat-work shorts and t-shirt had been cut off and taken away).
 
While we waited, we thought it would be a good time to find out if we needed to pay anything or if the hospital needed any more information.  Same answer.  No worries.
 
I go for surgery next week.  I've never had a major surgery before.  I've never had general anesthetic.  I guess I should be happy to make it to 61 with out this happening.
 
So, yes, it could have been worse.
I could have broken my neck or back.
I could have landed on my head.
I could have done this when we were about to sail off.
I could have done this somewhere that does not have good medical care.
I could have done this in the US of A.
 
Just a side note.  I was in a public hospital in Brisbane.  The care I received would be free for an Australian citizen and for citizens of other reciprocating countries, not the US.  We didn't get to the right person to find out what all of this cost.  They did tell us that an overnight stay in the hospital would cost $1119 Australian.  I think the US equivalent is more like $10,000 - $30,000.
 
Picture 1: It's a tough job supervising this work, but someone has to do it.
Picture 2: Yes.  That's the ladder.
Picture 3: It's a long way up, or down.
Picture 4: Queen Anne, wax on, wax off.
 
Don
 
 

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