What a lovely, but exhausting day I'd had at the Castle in Prague. Too bad I was carrying too much weight (ok, on and off my body), so I was pretty much exhausted & ready to catch the bus with Greg & head for The Bishop's House. Walking along the cobbled busstop "island" in the middle of the busy street, I finally saw our bus approaching. Too bad I didn't see the 6" step-down right before my eyes. So like a good Coquille Girl, my left foot missed the step, foot turned inward parallel to curb with outside of ankle "rolling" downward over the step-down, as my gazelle-like frame (NOT!) hurtled toward the cobbles. I picture this vividly as I'm writing & wonder again how I didn't smack my face into the stones, leaving my front teeth for future archeologists to ponder!? I do remember screaming at the intense pain in my ankle & my torqued knee, then rolling over on my back as fast as I could to re-align my foot, knee, & hip. Another OMG a la Cheryl!! What did I do to us on WK #1 of a 6 wk trip?! During the minute I stared at my ankle, swelling bulged like an ostrich egg where my outside ankle bone used to live, but amazingly all pain was now gone.
Poor Greg wasn't looking as I fell, but a young man with a cell phone arrived on 1 hand with Greg quickly following. Then a second local man arrived with a chair (Did it fall from the sky into this busy area?!) to lift me into. After some debate about what to do, we decided I was best on the ground with foot elevated on my backpack & call an ambulance.
Fast-forward to a Prague hospital ER where I see dark, empty hallways & absolutely no patients --only the 2 ambulance men & a kind nurse who spoke no English. Greg was pulled aside to discuss money. Finally I'm wheeled into an exam room where Dr. Marcel greets me in English. I'm so grateful to hear his haulting English, as he began checking all body parts starting at the head to see what I'd banged into the cobbles. When he got to The Egg, he knew that only the ankle needed x-rays. Interestingly during the hour that elapsed since The Fall, I was the only one who ever mentioned ice for The Egg! I did this upon arriving in the ER entry. "Sorry... we have no ice." Could that be?! Or was it a language problem? Then during Dr. Marcel's exam when I asked again-- "Sorry. No ice!" But then he spoke in Czech to the nurse, who arrived with 2 ice packs. Finally! I confess that this dampened my confidence in any further medical feedback, but I was still very grateful for the help.
After reading the x-ray, the news was good==> no break or fractures. Very bad sprain. 10 days non-weight-bearing & on crutches, transitioning after that as possible w/o crutches (which explains why I'm sitting at this computer!) RX for a poultice goo all around ankle, gauze bandage on each side of ankle, all wrapped with supportive ace bandage. Finally instructions to keep foot elevated WITH ICE for 48 hours. Yes, ICE! Then came the metal crutches with telescoping, adjustable "legs," rubber tips, strong plastic hand-holders, & at the top a plastic semi-circle that was wayyyy to big to wrap around the back of my arm. They accommodated my request to give us all my records, including a CD with my x-ray. Ambulance cost 1755k (~$70). All hospital care, including the new metal crutches, was 2350k (~$85)! They called a taxi to get us back to The Bishop's House & handed me my new crutches. Honestly, I do believe I was 10 times more likely to break my neck WITH the crutches than just being born a Coquille Girl! No one gave me a clue how to use the crutches. In fact, it was Greg who told me I was holding the crutches backwards! Interestingly, before letting me go, they retrieved the 2 precious ice packs. And during my recouperation Greg found that the only place to get ice was at the nearby Subway sandwich place where he bought our "recouperation dinners" each night!
I simply can't describe what effort it took for a clumsy, out-of-shape senior with no balance to hobble & hop on 1 good leg, with poor Greg holding my stomach & back in each hand as I teetered on my 3 "legs"! If it weren't so scary, it would be cartoon-funny! To get to our room required walking UP about 15 wooden steps that spiraled. That was almost a disaster, as hopping 10" up a step did not work well. So I Sat-Up the steps with great success.... until I had to somehow stand straight at the top. I'm sure I'm now guilty of TMI, but I'll sum up by saying that I AM IN AWE of folks who deal with disabilities, esp in countries where "handicap access" is an unknown concept.
MY UPDATED THOUGHTS ABOUT MEDICAL CARE:
I've puzzled the problems with our medical coverage like all Americans have-- high costs, uninsured & under-insured Americans. But what I've learned from Laurie's experiences in Germany (which she was too politically correct-- unlike her mother-- to fully describe in her blog) and from my experience in Prague, is how OUTSTANDING our medical care is. Yes, it costs a lot. Yes, some children & others are uninsured. I don't know what to do about that. But I hope some solutions can be found w/o sacrificing the quality & options that we enjoy in the U.S.
I bet you think the saga is over, huh? Well, it's not... :)