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Saturday, June 15, 2013

Travel Klutz | A Tale of an Injured Traveler

What happened to the Travel Shop Girl blog?  Where exactly has Marian disappeared to?  The answer to that question might surprise you.

Although I hate to admit it, anyone following my blog has learned that I lose things while traveling.  But did you know I have another dirty travel secret? I also tend to injure myself while traveling.  That's right -- I'm a travel klutz.  May not be anything big, but be it a scrape, a fall, a cracked tooth, or what have you, but if it's going to happen to anyone, it generally going to happen to me.

While returning to Toronto from Sudbury to attend the largest travel blogger conference of the year, TBEX, I had to take the free bus from Billy Bishop into Toronto near Union Station.  Fellow blogger, Jo Boxwell of Unique Ontario, offered to point me in the right direction toward my hotel.  We parted ways and I continued walking for about a block before crossing the street.  Apparently, Toronto drivers will just run you over so I needed to pick up the pace to make it across the street.  As I started to run with my suitcase and two bags in tow, my right foot hit the pavement and I felt a big POP in my foot.  I don't mean a popcorn pop kind of pop, but more of a holy $^*T - I've done something bad here.  Somehow I was able to limp a few feet to assess the situation and try to breathe.  I couldn't put any weight on my foot and my hotel was still only a few blocks away. Alternating between leaning on my suitcase and using it as a walker and hobbling along with it behind me, I found myself sweating bullets and looking like a deranged lunatic on the streets of Toronto.  Perhaps someone can find humor in it now, but it seemed like my hotel was in another country at that moment.

Directions from the Residence Inn Toronto to Shoppers Drug Mart
Finally, I arrived at the Residence Inn Toronto and went to the front desk to check in for my stay.  I immediately inquired of the front desk clerk, Ryan, if the hotel had anything that could help me, like a boot or maybe crutches. They didn't, but he did give me a big bag of ice to put on it.  He also gave me directions to the closest pharmacy, which was about one city block from the hotel.  After lugging my bags up to my room (#1111 - who is trying to send me a message?), I decided I needed to get to that pharmacy and fast.  I slowly hobbled my way toward Shoppers Drug Mart.  What would have easily been less than a five minute walk turned out to be close to an hour for me to walk there and back.  I was taking one or two steps and stopping while trying to give myself a pep talk to continue.  Didn't help that I was continuing to sweat profusely and my hair, well it was a crying shame.  The walk back was worse because I was carrying a shopping bag full of supplies including bottled water, which prior to this trip, I never noticed how heavy it could be when you are taking nothing more than baby steps.

View of the CN tower at night from my hotel room
By the time I got back to my hotel room once again, I was near tears.  The pain had become unbearable and I wasn't sure what I was going to do.  Being on a low-carb diet, I hadn't had a drink in quite some time, but that was all I could think about.  Somehow how I managed to make my way downstairs and limped up to the bar. It was my lucky day as Randolph was bartending and his welcoming smile instantly put me at ease.  Jokingly, I asked for the largest glass of wine they had.  He offered me a bottle of wine and I quickly refused as that was way more than what I was bargaining for that night.  I retold the story of my afternoon and two of the patrons in the bar heard me telling my sad tale.  The woman on a barstool near me was Peggy who was there on business and just happened to be from Sherborn, Massachusetts.  The man sitting in the far corner looked up and asked me if I wanted a Tylenol 3.  "I don't take drugs from strangers," I laughed.  He got up and disappeared and my attention returned to Randolph.  After a few probing questions, he settled on offering me up a large shot of tequila and a Ketel One vodka martini with three olives.  As I was taking care of my bill, the man who asked me about the Tylenol 3 reappeared. He said, "Hi, I'm Jeff so now we're not strangers," and gave me not only the pill, but also a few packets of Tylenol, too.  I hope you can understand how much pain I was in as I would never willingly do something like this.  Randolph offered up some great advice on putting a wet washcloth in the microwave and using that as a heat wrap and then when it cooled off, putting in the freezer to use as an ice pack.  Clever!  By this point, Peggy had finished her drink and offered to carry my martini up for me since it probably would have been all over the floor if I tried to do it on my own.  This alone is proof positive that there are still people in this world who will do kind things for complete strangers.

Tempeh Cakes from Live Organic Food Bar
After thanking Peggy, I had a few sips of my drink and decided I should probably try to find dinner.  Therein lies the problem as the hotel didn't have room service and restaurant delivery seemed to have no less than a $20-$25 minimum order.  One hour of researching options passed and the sun started to go down and I was still without food.  Finally, I decided on Live Organic Food Bar, Toronto's premier organic raw food restaurant that was founded in 2002.  My dinner choice was the Tempeh Cakes, which are battered temped vegetable cakes over steamed greens and broccoli with crisp lemon peppers, fennel and zucchini along with a Chia Lemonade to make the minimum order requirement.  I was looking for protein and that was my best option so I was ecstatic.  Since it would take about an hour for the food to arrive via OrderIt.ca, I tried to relax and enjoy my martini while my foot continued to throb.  My food arrived, I ate one of the tempeh cakes and some of the veggies and by that point, I was done and ready for bed.

View of the CN tower from my hotel room
The next morning I woke up and truly believed that perhaps it was only a strain or a pulled muscle or something minor despite the fact that the sheet on my bed rubbing against my foot during the night was so painful that it kept waking me up during the night.  The items I purchased at the pharmacy were more for ankle issues and weren't immobilizing my foot.  I decided that creativity was necessary to get around Toronto and I immediately started putting my plan into action. Research began with medical supplies and DME (durable medical equipment) suppliers.  Not having a full grasp of Canadian geography, I called Ontario Medical Supply in Ottawa not realizing they were over four hours away from Toronto.  I spoke with a wonderfully kind woman by the name of Barbara who helped me identify that I needed a Vaco boot.  Initially, Barbara was going to have the boot sent over by courier, but she then realized that I wasn't in Ottawa.  I was able to work it so that FedEx would pick it up and deliver it the next morning to me at the hotel.  Both Barbara and Shawna went out of their way to assist me in obtaining the boot and I had my fingers crossed that it would arrive and work.  In addition, Heather, the manager of the Residence Inn, provided me with the number of Med Visit, basically doctors that do home (or in my case, hotel) visits.  I put in a call and received a quick call back. Unfortunately, they could only recommend that I go to the local emergency room, but said I could sit for six hours waiting to be seen. That wasn't sounding terribly promising to me.

Karla - +Karla A. P and @TravellerSoul76
The highlight of my afternoon was when I received a much welcome visit by Karla (@TravellerSoul76) and Yishene (@SmallCrazy), both of whom were also in Toronto for TBEX.  For a short while I felt slightly normal despite looking less than stellar.  We're talking no makeup, sweatpants, and a ponytail.  I love that these girls were so willing to overlook my pain and attire to sit and chat with me for a while.  With pre-TBEX activities on the horizon, they both left and I was back to wobbling around the hotel room and hoping for a speedy recovery.  For lunch I had my second tempeh cake and Karla brought me some soup and a quesadilla from I think it was Freshii, which I had for dinner.  After organizing everything, I got ready for bed with hopes for good results once my boot arrived.

Since I was expecting the boot before 10 am, I got up to shower and dress so I would be ready to go once it arrived.  Karla was staying with me and was a great help to me even once the boot arrived.  I had no idea how to get the thing on and somehow between the two of us, we were able to figure it out. With great trepidation, I stood up and tried to take that first step thinking I was absolutely home free only to discover that wasn't the case.  It did immobilize my ankle, but the pain in my foot was still there and my foot was moving inside the boot.  I was devastated as I didn't know what I could do.  Karla had to leave to meet up with some people from TBEX and I decided I needed to figure this out once and for all.  I tried squeezing my fat foot inside a sneaker, but that was excruciating.  The next couple of days in Toronto would have me walking everywhere and meeting with other bloggers and travel related professionals and me grimacing in pain was not going to make the impression I had hoped to make at TBEX.

Ferry queue for Billy Bishop airport
Therefore, I had to make a decision and the one I made was not one I had anticipated making.  Despite my work to get to Toronto, I decided it was time to leave.  A quick call to Porter Airlines to make the change and even though I knew I would incur a change fee, nothing prepared me to have to pay $700+ to change my flight.  But I was in pain and I desperately wanted to go home and see a doctor.  With an afternoon flight, I had just enough time to pack my bags and arrange for a cab back to Billy Bishop.  Getting from the main floor up to the line for the ferry was via an escalator with my bags and I held my breath as I got on with my big pink suitcase and two bags, but luckily, I didn't fall backwards.  Maneuvering the ferry to the terminal and up to the ticket counter was interesting, but not impossible.

Porter Airlines at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport
Once I checked in, I made my way through security and down toward the gate/lounge area.  I found a comfy chair and waited for my flight.  Of course, it was delayed, but not terribly.  When the time came for pre-boarding for those people who needed extra time, I practically bolted from my chair.  I knew getting up the steps with my boot on was going to slow down others so a few extra seconds of alone time was exactly what I needed.

My last view of Toronto
I had one last look at Toronto before leaving and wished I had more time in this great city.  I will definitely go back and walk the streets and enjoy all that it has to offer, but it wasn't meant to be this time.

Das Boot
Upon my return home, I immediately had an MRI on my foot and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon who also ordered x-rays and a CT scan.  Turns out I broke a bone in my foot along with having tendonitis and tenosynovitis and some other things.  Fortunately, the fracture was just in the right place that I didn't need surgery.  A little higher in either direction and I would have required a surgical repair. Rather than that, I have the luxury of wearing my beautiful boot for an entire month followed by physical therapy.  How did this happen?  It wasn't so much crossing the street that caused the bone to break, but what led up to this moment that matters.  My lightweight sneakers that I love combined with running on a hard surface (treadmill and track) were not a good combination for my flat feet.  I had some minor nagging pain in my foot, but thought it was only something minor.  Definitely is a lesson for me and anyone reading this to make sure you have the proper sneaker for your foot type and not to let ongoing pains go unchecked.

Instead of traveling this month, I will now be in recovery mode and working on some old posts as well as the new Travel Shop Girl blog that will launch this summer.  I haven't disappeared at all and I will continue to write and update my blog regularly from here on out.  Wish me luck!

Marian Krueger
Email: mkrueger@travelshopgirl.com

4 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness, Marian! I remember your tweet about your foot. That was a mess! Sorry you had to miss TBEX. Glad you are on your way to recovery.

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  2. Thanks Sonja! It's been an interesting turn of events, but I am of the belief that everything happens for a reason. I just don't know what it is yet exactly. :)

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  3. This sounds like a rough experience. I can't believe the airline charged you so much to change the flight. They should have made an exception.

    Glad you're OK and that you had some nice, helpful people around you when you needed them.

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  4. Thanks Lisa! I still can't believe the amount to change my flight either. Crazy huh? So glad Karla and Yishene were there, but I was hoping to meet more great people at TBEX, including you!

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