This has been by far the hardest post to write. Three weeks have passed since my fall on the gravel of Ruta 40. Since then I have had to transition from a journey of discovery to a journey of recovery. With the support of my family, good friends, nurses, doctors, and a wide variety of painkillers I have made it this far. I still have a long way to go before I can gain some mobility. The initial diagnosis—fractured tibia and fibula—was done at the hospital of El Calafate by Dr. Ahumada. The affable and talkative “chaqueño” (natural of the Province of Chaco in Northeastern Argentina) doctor was certain that my broken leg required surgery and discussed with me the treatment options. He told me that he could operate on my leg at the hospital, but also indicated that it would take time to obtain the appropriate orthopedic supplies—which needed to be ordered from a bigger city. Dr. Ahumada suggested that my options were much better in Buenos Aires. I told him that I lived in the US and we discussed the possibility of my flying back to California for treatment. He offered to fill out the appropriate paper work to request airline permission to fly with a leg cast. With the help of two other young doctors, Ahumada made the initial cast to immobilize most of my right leg—including knee and ankle. While the work was being done the trio of doctors discussed plans for a trout fishing trip the following weekend and a possible BBQ some time that week. I spent that first night at the hospital. Meanwhile, Adrián had to find a hotel and to begin to deal with the logistics of bringing back the bikes to Buenos Aires. It turned out that by the end of the following day, our nephew Nicolás had already joined us in El Calafate and was ready to ride back with my brother. Dr. Ahumada had to make two cuts along the entire length of the cast so it could be opened in case my leg got swollen during the flight. Finding room on a plane for me to fly back to Buenos Aires was not easy but we were lucky to meet Silvia Dogliotti—a friend of a friend who just showed up at my hospital room when she heard I was hurt. Silvia was a sweet guardian angel who took great care of us and helped a lot with the logistic of getting me back to Buenos Aires as soon as possible. Three days after the accident I was on a plane to Buenos Aires on a late flight that arrived after midnight. My sister Mariel was waiting for me at the airport with a taxi that brought us back to our town (one and a half hours west of Buenos Aires). The three-hour flight from El Calafate to Buenos Aires made it painfully clear that I would not be able to fly back to the US with my broken leg and the heavy cast. I was going to have to have surgery in Argentina (with no health insurance).
I was able to make an appointment with Dr. Alfredo Romero—a respected orthopedic surgeon in my small town—the day after my arrival. He agreed with the initial diagnosis and treatment options and we decided that he would perform surgery on my leg as soon as he could obtain the appropriate titanium plates and be able to reserve an operating room at one of the two hospitals he normally uses. Unfortunately, it would take more than a week for everything to be ready for the surgery. It was a long week that I survived heavily medicated under the amazing care of my sister Mariel. By then, Adrián and Nicolás had made it back to our town safely. Finally, on Saturday March 3rd (thirteen days after the accident) my broken tibia and fibula were put back together with titanium plates to be allowed to begin the healing process. More than a week has passed since then. The two sutures seem to be healing well and the pain is slowly subsiding. I remain bed-ridden and heavily medicated. Several of you have sent me best wishes. I am sorry I could not write this post sooner to thank you. I am sure there will be a final post to this blog but I am not ready to write it yet.