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Old 01-14-2013
killarney_sailor killarney_sailor is offline
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Getting to enjoy the benefits of the South African healthcare system

Forget about pirates or running into containers, the biggest danger while cruising is getting sick or injured. I am typing this from my hospital bed in Mossel Bay. It can all chage very quickly indeed.

We've been tied up to a fishing dock since the small yacht club here didn't have a spare dock for us. The tidal current and surge with any version of easterly winds here is quite violent pushing the boat around too much rubbing the big tires on the dock that finally damaged the rub rail and tore out lots of screws on the metal piece that protects the teak

Saturday night, the situation was extremely bad with strong south westerly and very low tide so that our fenders and fender board were getting caught below the tire. in trying to get things under control my left hand got caught between the rub rail and the rubber tire.

The ambulance first took us to the public hospital when hearing that we don't have travel insurance. However the hospital doesn't have right facilities (24 hour xray and specialists on call) to treat me accordingly, so we decided to try the private hospital which is very fancy and well-equipped and pricey, but not by US standards, more by cruiser standards.

After suffering a painful (even with Morphine - that stuff is not as good as the movies suggest), sleepless night, I finally got operated on by an orthopedic surgeon who apparently is well -known for his work on hands Sunday morning. I have afracture on the bone near where the little finge joins the hand. This is not a big deal, according to the surgeon. The major issue is that much soft tissue and skin on both side of the palm was torn badly, and the skin was peeled back (it is technically called "de-gloving" in the orthopedics trade. Not a nice limage). The surgeon cleaned the wound thoroughly (it was very dirty, think of the black tyre) and sutured everything back (he said he lost count of the stitches after 50). Will be in the hospital for 4 or 5 days. The concern now is whether the skin will survive. The parts that peeled were put back in place and the quesion is whether that are viable. If not then skin grafts would be needed. Miraculously this messy injury didn't hurt the nerves and ligaments, a full function recovery is expected.

As for the sailing part, we don't know when we can start again and we can't plan ahead for now since we don't know how his recovery is going to be. I've been trying my best to get his mind off worry stuff like that at the moment. We have crew arranged from Cape Town to the Caribbean so as long as my hand has stabilized it should be fine since we will have five hands on board. I can stand watches and make decisions. I can also reef the main, the jib would be hard. If the skin grafts are needed we will likely haul here, get the graphs done in Canada and come back next year.

Lots of lessons about being extra careful even when you are safety-conscious and the idea that you can cruise on $xxx a month, but you better have an emergency fund when you need it. So far we have paid $4000+, but have not paid the doctors yet.
Heading back to Lake Ontario for this summer. Relatively few stops along the way from Grenada. Martinique, Guadeloupe, St. Martin (must have something to do with the French food), then Bermuda, New England and up the Hudson/Erie Canal. We were going to go via Newfoundland and Labrador but June remembered that one of the kids is getting married this summer - details, details!
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