For the past several weeks, since returning from our south island road trip, we've been hard at work getting BRAVO ready for the coming year of cruising. (Adam took a quick trip to Seattle to start readying our house to sell, but that's another story!!!) We are still hauled out of the water, living in the boatyard, working on a large number of projects.
A few of days ago Cindi was climbing down
the ladder from BRAVO, carrying a bucket in one hand. We climb up and down the ladder at least 20 times
daily. But this time, one or 2 rungs down, she somehow slipped and fell
to the ground below, perhaps a 3 meter fall. She landed on her butt,
with her hands back behind her. Adam was still up on board and didn't see
her fall, another cruiser saw her lying on the ground and came running. Cindi was curled on her side in a kind of loose fetal
position. She was in severe pain, we could tell she was badly hurt. I
got the phone, called 111 (the Kiwi 911), and got an ambulance
They were very professional, got an iv started for
administration of pain meds as the rain began to fall, got her on the
back board, and into the ambulance. Off we went to Whangarei hospital
Initial x-rays showed that she had broken her left arm, just
above the wrist, and had crushed the L1 vertebrae. They reduced the
fracture in her wrist and casted it (LOTS of pain meds and nitrous oxide
made it barely tolerable.....(when Cindi says the pain is 11 on the
scale of 1-10, you know it's tough). Then back up to radiology to
confirm the wrist was set ok, and check the spine with a CT scan. Yes,
very clearly showed a crunched vertebrae.
They admitted her to
the orthopaedic ward, still in a lot of back pain, although
happily the arm felt much better after the cast went on. Good IV drugs
got the back pain to relieve quite a bit. The orthopod on duty said
that she would likely just need a back brace, kind of a corset on
steroids, and this would be confirmed by the big-cheese orthopod later.
first night she didn't get much sleep due to pain, and the 2nd day
wasn't much better. Pretty scary. But by the 3rd day she had made a
remarkable recovery as the spasm of the initial injury went down, and
they fit her for the brace. She was feeling much better, very little
pain, just needing tylenol, and was able to get out of bed with a bit of
help, and make her way to the head using a walker. A huge
improvement. Yesterday she went most of the day without even needing the
Unfortunately her doctor said yesterday that he doesn't want her released with just the soft brace; he ordered a hard "clamshell" type TLSO brace (thoracolumbar sacral orthosis !!!) to be molded onto her. Basically it's a ninja turtle suit, (or Xena, warrior princess!!!) w/ front and back halves velcro'ed together. Will really keep the spine straight as it heals. This was molded yesterday afternoon, should be ready for sea trials today.
Looks like she may be released this afternoon (Tues) or tomorrow. We've found a studio apartment near the marina to rent as she
recovers, likely 2-3 months or so. By then it will be mid winter here,
not a good time to sail away, so will need to work with NZ immigration
on our visas. If possible we'll stay in NZ into next summer (cyclone
season in the tropics), and spend our 3rd summer here, before sailing on
a year from now, say May 2016.
Wow, things can sure change in a
blink of an eye! But we both realize how lucky Cindi was in the grand
scheme of things. As one of her great nurses said (herself a
cruiser!!), "bones heal". It appears that there was no nerve damage, so
liklihood of a full recovery is good. Pretty amazing....with all of
the adventures we all have, and to get hurt falling off a goddamned
So that's the news for now. Boat projects continue, albeit at a bit slower pace. New electrical panels, new instruments, mast pulled yesterday for wiring and conversion of inner forestay to a roller furler, keel repair, plumbing upgrades, much varnishing, the list goes on. More to follow.....