While walking from the truck to a dive site entrance on Bonaire, my wife, Deborah, caught her foot under a root and hyperextended her leg when freeing herself. Falling to the ground, she exclaimed that she had broken her knee. I screamed for help as I knelt to remove her dive gear, but no one could hear me because of the fierce wind on the island.
One of the friends with whom we were diving had just assisted his wife into the water when he saw us huddled in the sand. He returned to shore to help get Deborah into the truck. She couldn’t put any weight on her leg. Although usually stoic, she whimpered in pain from the dive site to the hospital, which was about a half-hour drive. When we arrived, three nurses got her out of the truck, onto a gurney, and into the emergency room.
After reviewing X-rays and a CT scan, the hospital staff confirmed that she had broken her leg, but nobody knew just how badly. It was Saturday, and the trauma doctor was off until Monday. The emergency room personnel wanted to send her home that evening but decided to admit her after trying to get her to the bathroom on forearm crutches, during which she started vomiting and sweating profusely.
I called DAN to tell them what happened as soon as I could. They stayed in touch with me on Saturday and Sunday while we waited for the trauma doctor to return.
On Monday, the trauma doctor said that the break needed surgery, but he was concerned that he wouldn’t have the necessary nuts, bolts, and plates on Bonaire. We considered going to Aruba, but it became clear in our consultation with DAN that evacuating to the United States was the only viable option.
DAN arranged for the medical flight, hospital, and surgeon in Florida. We left on a small jet at midday and landed at a private airport in Fort Lauderdale. After easily going through customs and immigration control, we boarded a transport van that was waiting to take us to the hospital. We spent only 45 minutes in the emergency room before Deborah went to a private room where I could stay with her. The staff gave us some food because we hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and it was about 7 p.m. The surgeons wanted to operate the night we arrived, but they postponed the surgery until the next day since Deborah now had food in her stomach. Meanwhile, DAN stayed in touch with me, calling every day.
After nine days at the hospital, Deborah was moved to a nearby rehab facility for two weeks. When she was released to go to a nursing facility near our home for rehab, DAN arranged and paid for our flight from Fort Lauderdale to Hartford, Connecticut, purchasing four seats for us because Deborah needed to elevate her leg. We arrived at the airport to discover our flight was canceled. I called DAN again, and they got us four seats on a flight to Providence, Rhode Island, five hours after our originally scheduled flight. We took a Lyft from Providence to the nursing facility.
DAN kept in touch with me every day until we got back to Connecticut and I was comfortable enough for them to stop calling. After two weeks in skilled nursing, Deborah returned to our home.
DAN covered everything except my hotel, car rental, and food while Deborah was in rehab in Florida. They even covered a professionally installed wheelchair ramp and a private nurse for Deborah’s first week back home when I was out of town, neither of which Medicare would cover.
The emotional and physical support I got from DAN was invaluable. I couldn’t have done it all on my own. They found an excellent surgeon and a first-rate hospital for Deborah. They paid for the medevac jet, the crew, the medical ground transportation, the Lyft rides, and the part of Deborah’s health insurance that didn’t cover the Bonaire hospital stay. The DAN insurance customer service representatives were swift, professional, and courteous.
I am forever indebted to DAN and plan to keep paying our DAN dive accident insurance premiums even after we stop diving.
© Alert Diver — Q1 2023