Saturday marked then one month anniversary from the event that has changed our lives.
On the 24 of October we had an appointment to pick up our passports and extended visas to spend an additional 30 days in Indonesia. Blowin Bubbles was anchored in a bay at the northwest corner of Belitung Island. We rented a motorcycle to make the 20 mile (each way) trip to the immigration office. As cars are very scarce on these little islands and there were no taxis.
On our way back we entered into an unmarked construction area and encountered some loose gravel on the road. We were doing between 40 and 50 kilometers per hour when we slid a little. On its own it would have been a small problem, however they had dug out the side of the road where the shoulder should have been, we fell down a 30 cm drop before we lost control and came to a sudden stop in the ditch. We were wearing pants and full face helmets.
I have very little memory of the next while, except that I remember that I could not breath! A stranger in a pickup truck picked Shelley and I up and drove as quickly as he could to the local “hospital”, which turned out to be not much more than a clinic.
While it had an X-ray machine and a used cat scanner, there was no surgeon or operating facilities.
Shelley was diagnosed with a concussion and they eventually figured out I had broken my collarbone, my scapula, and they thought I might have 4 broken ribs.
My real problem was that I could not catch my breath. They eventually figured out that my lung had collapsed and that I also had a pneumothorax... they had no chest tubes, so modified an NG tube and taped it into a sterile water container.
All this was enough for me to be air evacuated to Singapore where I could be properly cared for. The small island had no lights at the airport so they would not allow the air ambulance to land that night. The next morning they told them a commercial flight was coming in and it would have to wait another couple hours !
In that time we had racked up about $3000 in bills. The hospital in Indonesia would not release Shelley until we paid what we owed in cash. They would not accept a credit card or the word of our insurance. They would not allow her to come with me. Thus I was flown out and Shelley had to go from cash machine to cash machine until she was able to get enough to cover the bill. Many of the machines would not accept our out of country cards. And when they did there were limits on how much you could withdraw. Working with a concussion and worried about me now in another country this was trying. The hospital made a local man leave his identification at the hospital and be responsible for our bill if Shelley did not return with the money. After the bill was finally paid, Shelley took a commercial flight to Singapore.
My medical flight took forever. First we could not check out with immigration on the island we were on. I have no idea why. So they stopped at another island in indonesia to do this. Then Singapore would not allow the Indonesian plane to land for reasons unknown to me, so we had to land in Malaysia and the hospital sent a road ambulance across the border to get me and bring me to Singapore. All this time with the NG tube in my chest, a lung full of blood and only socks on as they had cut off my clothes after the accident.
After finally arriving at the Farrer Hospital which was chosen by our travel insurance company, we were told we would have to pay $9700 for a one week stay plus about $30000 for the surgery. Our insurance limit was $27000 so we would only end up being about $10000 short. With the amazing response from family and friends we had raised $10000 with our “go fund me”. So we thought we would be alright on that end.
Upon initial evaluation in Singapore in medical terms I was diagnosed with 6 posterior rib fractions (with 4 being displaced) 3 with additional anterolateral fractures, left scapula fracture, left clavicular displaced fracture mid to lateral third, left haemothorax and subcutaneous emphysema and pneumonia-mediastinum. Also a splenic infra-capsular haematoma.
In normal language...The next day I had two titanium plates on my scapula and a bunch of screws in my collarbone. They also operated on my left lung and removed over 600 ml of blood from it. They also discovered damage to my spleen which was contained within the spleen itself. Lastly, they identified 7 broken ribs. Shelley arrived and found me in ICU. After talking to her for a few minutes the nurses sent her downstairs to have an MRI to confirm the Indonesian diagnosis of a concussion. And have her stitches removed. She continues to have very dizzy spells and nausea, but is superhuman and continues to care for me.
The next day I was moved out of ICU. This was also the day they told us our bill was now over $78000! We were floored? What happened? How could they have got that so wrong? Frightened and a long way from home I was kept in the hospital a couple more days, until they thought I might not die, then I was released. Since we were at the end of our insurance limit, to say the least, they released me even though the day before they said I need 7 more days hospitalization. I still had a chest tube in, I had not yet eaten solid food and had barely walked a few meters. But without money to pay further hospital time we could not argue about it with them. Upon leaving the hospital Shelley cared for me in a small hotel room until the chest tube was taken out and we could be cleared to fly. The hotel maid was really sweet and found us as many spare pillows as she could so we could make a make shift hospital bed as I could not lay flat or sit up. They also brought a little refrigerator to our room. Airlines require a chest injury to be “healed” for a minimum 2 weeks before being considered to fly. So once the chest tube was finally removed we still had to wait in a cheap hotel room for clearance.
In the mean time some great friends pitched in and got Blowin Bubbles from Indonesia and safely docked in Malaysia, where she is today. THANK YOU so much to Sean from SV Chevaldy, and Kellie who flew all the way from Australia to sail her to safety.
We had a number of appointments with our doctors as out patients. Even though we had a horrible experience with the hospital, the Singapore doctors went WAY beyond what could have been expected of them... and they volunteered to significantly reduce their fees for us and not charge us for appointments once we left the hospital.
Our travel insurance still had funds available to repatriate us home to Canada, so as soon as we were cleared to fly, we flew home in pods, which made the journey bearable...except when the turbulence kicked in. Twenty hours in an airplane with all the broken ribs was not easy.
We arrived in Canada last Sunday night and were told by the Singapore surgeons to get to an acute care facility as soon as possible after landing, which we did. We arrived at London Hospital around 11 pm and did not have the best experience we could have hoped for.
It turns out the doctors here are reluctant to aggressively repair my 8 (yes, now it’s 8) broken ribs. They also don’t want to repair my leaky spline. All they want to do is treat me with pain meds for 12 or more weeks! We see our family doctor this week and hope for a second opinion on the ribs after that.
We are staying with some friends at home and are looking forward to Christmas with our family and friends. As it stands now, we have spent our entire savings, but we are safe and we will be better soon. What the future will hold is anyone’s guess. Thank you to everyone who has followed and supported us through all of this...
Contributions are still be accepted through this link: Kyle andShelley - Go Fund Me!