I’ve recently been reading a book by John Higham called 360 Degrees Longitude. I ‘met’ John on Facebook via another blogger. He and his wife made a trip around the world with their children a few years ago; their older child was the age of our younger one now. They were making their way across Europe on tandem bikes, and at one of the stops, their 11-year-old daughter fell climbing a boulder and broke her leg in Zermatt. They had to ditch the bikes and adjust their plans underway.
Now, I’ve enjoyed reading about the experiences of others who’ve done this type of travel before us, and have learned a lot that has been helpful and found some great ideas. This was one that I didn’t plan on re-creating for ourselves.
Two days ago, John’s sister let some horses into a field at his dad’s house and they were excited to be in a new place. Marlie and her cousin Elizabeth went out to visit them, and Marlie hopped on one she has ridden bareback before. Unfortunately, her 11-year-old mind didn’t consider the fact that she’s ridden him at his home. He bolted after the other horses as they cantered around the new digs. Marlie stayed behind and took a bad landing. At least she followed the “always wear your helmet” rule.
Up at the house, we adults not only were not there to point out the bad idea, but we didn’t know it had happened. A black car came barreling up the driveway, not at a speed that was unsafe but that clearly said “trouble.” Someone driving by had seen Marlie, crying and hurt, in the pasture, and came for help. Although the back of her helmet was cracked and full of grass, the only place hurting was her leg. The weird part was she didn’t remember landing on her leg at all. We found out why later.
A tearful Jeep ride to the immediate care center and a couple of x-rays later told us that the distal tibia, or lower shin bone, was broken. Apparently, she has a cyst, or what I would call a hole, in the big bone of her lower leg. On the x-ray, it looks like it’s more than half the thickness of the bone. It created a weak spot. They sent a digital copy to an Orthopedist, who said it would be OK until morning. The nurse splinted it below the knee, gave us some vicodin, and sent us home.
Although Marlie was very careful when moving her leg, at some point in the night the fracture dislocated. The short story is the break moved whenever she did, and the bones bumping together was excruciating. It was a long night.
Yesterday we spent a couple of hours at the Orthopedic Surgeon’s office. He covered everything with us, and was very supportive of our leaving on the “rest of our trip.” He and his wife took a trip around the world before children, and have been thinking about taking one with them in the next couple of years. He did feel, however, that flying out one week after the surgery was not workable. They don’t even cast the leg until a week and a day a day after the surgery. He’ll be adding some bone material to the cyst, and putting in a plate. It should be permanent, he does not think she’ll grow so much from this point that she will “outgrow” the plate. Then, it’s a cast for six weeks while everything heals up. We’ll likely be finding an Orthopod in Cape Town to remove the cast and take follow up x-rays. On the bright side, at least it didn’t happen in a remote African wildlife park.
So, we are in limbo again. Even in her pain and through her tears, as John drove her in the Jeep from the pasture to the house, Marlie talked about her worry this would impact our South Africa plans. As we’ve been talking about changing our flights and whether the airlines will let us change them or charge us a fortune, Hannah suggested that if we were going to lose what we spent on them, she and John could fly out ahead, and Marlie and I could join them later. That way we’d only be out the money for two new tickets. I guess the waiting we thought was almost over has started again, leaving us all wanting.