Where Has Pat Been?

A number of my friends have asked that I blog about what happens when you are 1,000 miles from home and you are injured.  My husband, Gene & I were on vacation when he injured himself.  Here is our experience.  I always buy travel insurance when we go out of the country so that we can get back home incase of accident or illness.  I have never done this for domestic travel, but I am reconsidering.  Today’s airline flights are so full that you are only flying on the plane you are scheduled on in many cases.  The proper travel insurance would have allowed us to return home a few days earlier.

My plan was to take a short break from blogging and social media.  I knew that during the first part of our vacation in Yellowstone National Park we would not have access to the internet.  I thought this would be a great time to clear my mind and do some planning.  Well, all of that part went as planned.  However, the afternoon of June 18, 2010, my husband slipped and fell and tore the quad muscles on both of his legs.  This rendered him immediately unable to walk.  We were in the Badlands National Park and 1,000 miles from home.


He was first taken to the emergency room in Philip, SD.  We both tried to convince them to take him to Rapid City, SD as we knew they had a much larger medical facility.  However, their protocol requires that they go to the closest emergency room.  So off we go.  At the Philip emergency room they did X-rays.  No bones were broken.  The doctor said he thought Gene had just severely strained the quads.  He gave him a pain shot, prescribed paid drugs, advised us to ice each quad and then use heat and that he should be better in a couple of days.  They put Gene in our rent car and off to Rapid City we went.  Now mind you Gene can still not stand.  I had to use the hotel’s wheel chair to get him in the room and call and rent a wheel chair to use to move him around.

On Sunday morning Gene said he needed to go to the Rapid City emergency room.  So we get him in the car and head out.  They do triage, ask a lot of questions and then put us in a room.  I took out my Kindle and starting reading to occupy the time.  When the emergency room physician entered the room, he said hi and wanted to know all about my Kindle.  He said Gene looked like he wasn’t going anywhere and could wait while he checked out the Kindle.  What a hoot.   As soon as the emergency room physician examined him and felt of his legs he said the quad muscles had been torn and would need surgery.  They admitted him to the hospital.  Now I have to say, for a small city, this is a really nice hospital and the staff were very nice and attentive.  When the orthopedic surgeon saw Gene he wanted to do surgery immediately.  However, when the doctor advised Gene that recovery/rehab would be a minimum of 6 weeks Gene said no.  We would take our regular flight home on Tuesday and have the surgery here.

So on Monday our day was all about contacting doctors here to get a referral to an orthopedic surgeon and talking to American Airlines to confirm that the Rapid City airport could handle getting him on board the airplane in an aisle chair and that the proper staff would be available.  American just started flying out of Rapid City a few months ago and they only have this one flight a day.  I wanted to be sure we were going to be on it before we left the hospital.  My final hurdle for getting everything arranged was to talk to Park N Fly where our car was parked and find that they don’t have a handicap van.

So Tuesday was all about getting checked out of the hospital on time, getting to the airport and getting home.  Once we were in DFW, I left Gene with the young man that wheeled him from the plane to baggage claim.  I went off to catch the Park N Fly van to get the car and come back to pickup Gene.  Now we had been away from home 11 days where the highest temperature was maybe 77degrees.  It is 101 degrees at 5:30pm when we landed.  It is a weekday and rush hour traffic. Yikes!!

I retrieved Gene and stopped by our house to drop off luggage.  Then it was off to get him checked into the hospital here.  Yet another emergency room.  They had no record that they were expecting him.  They finally located the orthopedic surgeon who said yes he should be admitted.  On Wednesday night at 8:00pm he had surgery.  All went well with surgery.

So since your husband can’t get up and down to walk, you must find a skilled nursing facility for him.  This was my Sunday duty.  So for anyone that doesn’t know, a skilled nursing facility is a nursing home that has been medicare approved that can provide physical therapy as prescribed by the patient’s physician.  I can’t even express how depressing this process was.  I visited the three that were recommended in our local area.  I chose what seemed to be the best.  Gene was transferred to this facility on Monday morning.  Things either move really slow or extremely fast.  I have to say this part moved far faster than I was prepared for.  After Gene was settled in the facility I set off on some errands to gather some items he would need.

I will just say that nothing went well that afternoon or evening at this facility.  I spent the evening researching my options for other facilities.  On Tuesday morning I set out on my new search.  I found a really nice facility.  They sent out their assessment nurse that afternoon and by the evening he was moved.  We celebrated our 36th wedding anniversary in the new facility.  They brought a each a dinner tray and the food was actually very good.

While being in any facility is trying, overall this facility is much better than any other I have visited.  But no matter how nice the facility, you must be attentive to what is going on, be available to assist your loved one and most of all be their advocate.  Gene has now been in this facility for 1 1/2 weeks.  We had a post op visit with the surgeon.  He advises that he will see us again on August 18.  Physical therapy has been moved to a new stage, but it will be after our August visit before Gene will be allowed to try standing up from a normal seated position.  It seems I have finally taken care of all the out-of-the-ordinary tasks and I can return to taking care of business and back to blogging.

We had a wonderful time in Yellowstone and on our trip from there to Rapid City and in the Badlands until the accident.  I will be posting blogs about our trip over the next few weeks.  Remember, you can have an accident or get sick anywhere.  If this happens you need to sit and contemplate the best plan of action.  There are options if you look for them.  We accomplished our goal of getting home.  Our goal now is to get Gene back on his feet so we can get back to life and more “Glamour of the Road”.

  • Wow! And I can't believe you emailed me through all of that.

    Most people I know get travel insurance when traveling out of the country but I never thought it would be necessary when in the country.

    Happy 36 years – and how lucky you are to have each other 🙂

    • Kim, in any incident like this there is a lot of sitting and waiting. I found work to keep the time occupied and the worry at bay. I agree we are very lucky to have each other. We make a very strong team.

  • Wow! And I can't believe you emailed me through all of that.

    Congrats on the 36 years – you are lucky to have each other.
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  • C J W

    It was the Badlands! Yikes!

    • Yes it turned out to be the Badlands. However, as Gene says, an accident can happen anywhere. It wasn't the Badlands fault.

  • Thanks for the post Pat and thanks for reminding everyone about the importance of travel insurance. Best wishes to you and a speedy recovery to Gene from everyone here at Access America travel insurance.

    • Thanks for your best wishes and your comments.

  • Thanks for sharing Pat. Be strong and courageous. Jas 1:2-4
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