Nine tips for han­dling an in­jury on an in­ter­na­tional rid­ing trip

Canadian Cycling Magazine - - BROKEN BONES ABROAD - by Tracey Green

“Con­grat­u­la­tions! You’ve gained full range of mo­tion back.” Th­ese were words I’d been wait­ing to hear for three months fol­low­ing my tum­bling down a moun­tain­side in Tus­cany on a bor­rowed moun­tain bike and break­ing my patella.

It re­ally sucks when an un­ex­pected turn (or in my case, a tree) parks you and your bike. While the heal­ing process was painful and ar­du­ous, it wasn’t the most stress­ful part of the in­jury. I had no idea that when my han­dle­bar clipped a tree while I was cut­ting through a steep ver­ti­cal that my big­gest worry would be fly­ing home.

There are sim­ple tips, if I had known prior to my ac­ci­dent, that could have helped me in what was one of the most frus­trat­ing travel ex­pe­ri­ences of my life. If you have any plans to ven­ture with your bike out­side Canada, check out th­ese points first.

BYOB Bring your own bike. If you want to do ad­vanced rid­ing, I rec­om­mend bring­ing a bike that you’re fa­mil­iar with. If I were on my own Gary Fisher Su­per­fly 100, I feel strongly that I could have avoided my fall. If you can’t take your own ride, be sure to in­spect your bor­rowed bike care­fully, in­clud­ing the clip set­tings.

Learn the word “hos­pi­tal” Your travel bud­dies will have to look up the lo­cal word for hos­pi­tal to find you. I was in an am­bu­lance with non-english-speak­ing paramedics who couldn’t re­lay any in­for­ma­tion to me or my party. Search­ing “hos­pi­tal” with a map app did not work. Googling “os­pedale” would have saved a lot of time and stress. Also learn­ing the word “emer­gency” in the lo­cal lan­guage can be use­ful in lo­cat­ing the right depart­ment.

Get­ting your busted self back home Air­lines have med­i­cal clear­ance guide­lines. Make sure to check those of your car­rier. I rec­om­mend that

“Non-en­glish­s­peak­ing paramedics couldn’t re­lay any in­for­ma­tion to me or my party.”

when you’re at the hos­pi­tal, you don’t leave with­out a doc­tor’s stamp and sig­na­ture stat­ing you can fly home. Th­ese things are your golden ticket.

Call your phar­ma­cist When deal­ing with a lan­guage bar­rier, you may be un­aware of the sig­nif­i­cance of var­i­ous drugs or treat­ments. My Ital­ian doc­tors were un­able, in their bro­ken English, to warn me about not tak­ing Advil with the in­jected blood thin­ners. My phar­ma­cist in Canada was able to flag this con­cern for me.

Travel in­sur­ance Keep your travel in­sur­ance in­for­ma­tion in your email in­box dur­ing your time abroad. You can eas­ily ac­cess this while at the hos­pi­tal. Your in­sur­ance com­pany can also help bridge the lan­guage gap as they usu­ally have staff trained in ev­ery lan­guage. The in­sur­ance com­pany may also help you with other com­mu­ni­ca­tion chal­lenges such as send­ing med­i­cal doc­u­ments to the air­line. Help your­self You may have to change your seat or flight in or­der to fly home. Take own­er­ship and tell the air­line the next flight you need to be on and what type first-class space your in­jury re­quires. Your travel in­sur­ance should cover ex­tra costs, but the air­line should of­fer the new seat at a de­cent rate. An air­line’s sug­ges­tion to fly you home three weeks later on a stretcher is not some­thing you have to ac­cept. Again, that doc­tor’s stamp and sig­na­ture is key here.

Get a set of wheels If you are deal­ing with a lower-body in­jury and need a wheel­chair, buy your own. Again, travel in­sur­ance can re­cover this cost for you. It’ll help you make the best of what re­mains of your trip. More im­por­tant, us­ing the air­port’s wheel­chair sticks you in their sys­tem. You will have to in­cur long waits for air­port staff to wheel you through. Hav­ing your own chair buys you free­dom and the abil­ity to move to the gate in­de­pen­dently. Time Dou­ble your nor­mal air­port time. You will ex­pe­ri­ence de­lays con­nected with your re­duced mo­bil­ity.

Ac­count­ing Keep all re­ceipts per­tain­ing to your in­jury, in­clud­ing train tick­ets you hadn’t planned on buy­ing and ex­tra ho­tel nights – any­thing you do or pur­chase be­cause of the in­jury. It’s all re­im­bursable through your in­sur­ance.

While my i njury sucked, don’t let my ex­pe­ri­ence de­ter you from plan­ning a rip on trails abroad. I’ve learned from it. Af­ter I gained my full range of mo­tion, I started shop­ping for a bike bag and look­ing for a sweet new moun­tain bik­ing des­ti­na­tion. A new jour­ney is j ust around the cor­ner.

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