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Sunday, July 01, 2007

Back injury in Savusavu

Almost 2 weeks ago we had the boat provisioned, officially checked out with the customs officers of Savusavu (a nice little town on Vanua Levu, Fiji) and then on our way out of the harbor we went alongside the "Copra Shed" wharf to fill up the water tanks. I'd had a bit of a kink in my back that morning, but chose to ignore it instead of taking a few minutes to stretch. So we came alongside the wharf and I stepped off the boat to tie it up and pulling on a line I felt a crunch in my lower back and then some breath taking pain that almost made my legs give out. I hand the line to Kathy and hunched over immediately to go aboard the boat and lie down on my back. The pain is like nothing I've ever experienced as I lay flat on my back. Kathy proceeds to fill the tanks and then we call a friend Steve from s/v Red Sky over to help pilot the boat back to a mooring. At one point I try to stand up to go the bathroom and it's a no go to walk so I crawl to the bathroom under extreme duress.

The next five days I spent flat on my back going absolutely stir crazy. Fortunately, Kathy did a great job of keeping me company and nursing me back to health. The first few days I was just hoping that whatever I did would eventually heal enough that I'd be able to walk without my legs buckling from the electric pain radiating from my lower back. The self diagnosis is a herniated disk, but since there are no medical facilities equipped with MIR or CAT scan machines nearby I'll need to wait for an official diagnosis. Kathy has a good story about going to the hospital on my behalf that we'll post here on the blog as well.

Anyway, on the fifth day I ventured on deck albeit in extreme pain. On the Sixth day I went for a short very very very slow walk. The good news is everyday I get a little better, although I expect the recovery to take many more weeks to come. In the interim we'll continue to take it easy. Just today we moved the boat to an anchorage about thirty minutes from town and I went for a swim which felt good. It's nice to be out of the Savusavu harbor for a change.

I'm very thankful to have had this incident occur in a nice protected harbor where we had a mooring to tie up to, great shopping and a ever helpful cruising community providing support and well wishes. Should it have happened on passage or in a remote area it would have been a bit more stressful.

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