Well bloody hell, I’ve now had one travel experience that I won’t be in a rush to repeat.
Due to some unfortunate events on an organised dog sledding trip (dogs were boisterous, people were knocked, knees met a rock in a rather forceful manner) I ended up rather nastily injured.
My left knee was slightly bruised, but barely uncomfortable, but my right knee got seriously banged up. As I was knocked, I hit a big rock seriously hard, and my poor right knee copped the brunt of the force. It was so unbearably painful that the initial thought was that it was possibly a fractured patella, but thank god, there were no fractures or breaks – just some serious bruising and swelling – but the journey to finding this out was not exactly a simple one.
I am writing this post one week since this unfortunate event and let me tell you – this knee is not healing well! I showed it to a guy in Longyearbyen just to convince myself I wasn’t being a total wuss and he described it as ‘seriously proper fucked’, so I am most definitely not being a princess about the whole thing!
After the initial shock and pain – my biggest concern was that my beautiful 7-14mm lens had hit the rock too and was now pretty smashed beyond repair – at the time, I was a lot more upset about my lens than my knee!
I mean, sure, it hurt. But it was also very cold on this day (-15 degrees Celsius) and I think that the cold kinda acted to numb the pain a bit. I knew I had banged it up, but I was able to continue without too much discomfort until we got back into town. However, once I got into the warmth of a car, the pain went from mild to downright extreme.
My tour guide insisted that I go to the hospital to be checked out, but I was feeling stubborn, sad about my camera lens and didn’t want to go to hospital if it was a minor injury. I mean, why should I clog up an emergency department if it was just going to be a little bruise?
However, things quickly worsened. I stubbornly insisted on going back to my apartment to inspect the damage and see what I thought about it. By the time I had been inside the warmth for around 30 minutes I started having serious concerns. I could barely walk, I couldn’t lift my leg at all, my knee had become so bruised that it was already black and blue, and it had also become so swollen that it appeared around twice the size of my other knee.
I could stand on it and put weight on it without too much discomfort, but as soon as I went to bend it in any way, the pain was so strong that I couldn’t stop myself from groaning and crying. At this point, I was worried.
Though I am a health professional, I am only a midwife and not a nurse, so anything outside the realm of pregnancy and childbirth is most definitely not my forte. I have no experience with anything related to knee injuries and had no clue what to look for when assessing myself!
At this point, I still did not want to go to the hospital. I was genuinely worried that something may have been fractured or broken, and as stupid as it sounds, I wanted to live in ignorance for a little longer. If it was something serious, it would mean that my trip and my adventures would be cut short very early, and that I would have to go home and spend time on a couch and recovering – which is the absolute last thing I wanted.
After a few hours of living in pain and denial, Jannik – the owner of the apartment I was staying in – told me that he was taking me to the hospital and that was that. Off we went to Ilulissat hospital, and spending time there was such a bizarre experience.
In the hospital that I work in back in Australia, a significant portion of the women I care for are indigenous – coming from remote communities and often not speaking much (if any) English.
In the hospital in Ilulissat, people spoke Greenlandic or Danish – but very little (if any) English. It was kinda scary! I had no idea what people were saying or what was going on and for the first time, I really got a glimpse into what the women I care for may be experiencing when they come to a hospital in which nobody speaks the language.
After performing some tests and an overall assessment, the hospital managed to find someone who spoke extremely broken English, who could tell me the good news.
No breaks and no fractures!
I was instructed to avoid movement, prescribed pain meds and required to wear a special compression bandage.
I ended up spending two days in complete bedrest, which sucked. I had come to my favourite place in the world and instead of exploring, I was confined to a bed and wasted away hours watching about a million episodes of Breaking Bad!
However, by some sort of miracle, my last day in Ilulissat ended up being memorable for good reasons and not negative ones. Stay tuned!