So there I was, in hospital, in Colombia, surrounded by doctors and nurses who didn’t speak English. With my Spanish being pretty much non-existent I could see we were in for an interesting time…looking back it’s quite amusing to think of my wife Kerry using her pocket English/Spanish dictionary to communicate about my medical needs and condition. I’m thankful that Richi was there some of the time to translate some of what was going on.
We spent 5 days in hospital in Colombia, during which time I underwent 3 surgeries on my arm.
The first was the day I arrived. They did an ultra-sound like scan on my arm to see the remaining blood flow, it didn’t look good from below my mid-forearm and so the doctor took a vein graft from my right leg to use as an artery in my arm to try to restore some flow.
Initially the surgery seemed successful but after a while the blood flow seemed to stop again. Through Richi’s translation the doctor explained he may have to amputate…you can imagine how that makes you feel…and a doctor, who knew some English, hand wrote a consent for me to sign for the amputation. As I went in for my second surgery the last thing I remember saying to the doctor was, “please try to save my hand”.
I awoke with hand still intact, but again as time passed things started to turn blue and so they rushed to get me into surgery for a 3rd time. I remember waiting on the trolley, staring at the ceiling, doctor by my side, wondering what we were waiting for, praying for the surgery to start so that I’d be asleep and not in pain. He explained, in his broken English, that at that time of night on the weekend they only had 2 operating rooms open, so we were waiting for one to become free. As we waited the lights went out twice due to what I assume were power outages…confidence building stuff.
So after 3 surgeries it wasn’t looking good and whilst amputation was looking likely we decided it was time to get back to the US. The doctor felt I was stable enough to fly and so we contacted DAN (Divers Alert Network) for emergency medical evacuation assistance. I cannot recommend their evacuation insurance enough, once my wife called their hot-line they put the wheels in motion to fly us out of Colombia to Miami and within 36 hours we were aboard a private jet bound for Mercy hospital in Miami. It is hard to put into words the sense of relief I felt to hear the English-speaking voice of the medical flight attendant from Air Ambulance Specialists as the ambulance arrived at the airport in Bucaramanga and they loaded me aboard the Lear Jet…it’s just indescribable!
I’d always fancied a ride in a private jet, never quite envisioned it would happen like this and after a quick 3 hour flight we arrived in Miami and an ambulance whisked me away to Mercy hospital and the next chapter in my recovery.