So, what happens when things go wrong on holiday?
If I added up all the time I’ve spent travelling, I’ve spent many years exploring countries far from Australia. Thankfully, over all that time, very few things have gone wrong.
However, that all changed on our trip to Thailand last week.
Last time we visited the Sunwing Kamala in 2016
It was a busy month in the lead up to our holiday.
I visited the US and Canada, spoke and taught at a conference and we officially took ownership of a new house and moved in. The rest of my family also suffered a massive heartbreak when Richmond were knocked out of the AFL finals.
A week after moving in to our new house, we were off to the airport for a trip to Phuket, Thailand and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia which we booked long before we realised how busy the month would be. We were desperate for relaxation and were excited to be heading back to places and hotels we know well to do as little as possible.
And that’s what we did.
We enjoyed the pools, the massages, the beach and the food. We had nearly three glorious days of loving every moment.
Then I went to take a shower after getting back to the beach. There was a two inch step down that I missed and I fell down it. On the way down, I heard a big tearing sound coming from my knee and I landed flat on the shower floor.
It was a terrible feeling. I knew something must be badly wrong and I couldn’t move.
I yelled for my husband and tried to tell him what happened, but I felt like vomiting and it was hard to talk.
Eventually, he carried me back to the bed and I lay in shock and pain.
He talked to reception who advised that I was better off going to the hospital rather than getting a doctor in since they would just tell me to go to the hospital anyway. Since it was dinner time and nearly bed time for the kids, I decided it would be best to wait overnight and go in the morning.
It was a long night. I was ok when i kept my leg perfectly still at a 90 degree angle, but any movement was excruciating.
The next day, we were able to borrow a wheelchair from the hotel to get me downstairs and we took a taxi the 40-minute drive to the Bangkok International Hospital in Phuket Town.
It was very sleek and modern and I felt at ease when we arrived. I waited for about 40 minutes on arrival but everything was fast and streamlined from that point. I was wheeled between a doctor and x-ray and physio and a nurse to have some injections before finishing up at the pharmacy and payment. We spent only a couple of hours there.
The x-ray was horrible as they wanted my leg as straight as possible but any movement beyond 90 degrees was excruciating.
The x-ray was clear and I was quickly strapped into a knee brace and given crutches.
They were great at strapping me up so I could fly home but terrible at letting me know what was going on and how I should even treat my injury. They gave me drugs, but no idea at all about whether I should do things like ice my injury, how quickly I should get home for further treatment etc. In fact, the physio and doctor contradicted each other and didn’t have great English. I came out confused and stressed. On the upside, it only cost $660 (which we will get back).
This is when my husband got on to our travel insurance (iTrek) and stayed on them.
Initially, they frustrated us. They kept saying to email through what we got from the hospital so they could get their medical team to advise what to do (like how quickly I should get home or whether we could continue flying on to Malaysia the next day).
My husband would email it through, ring a couple of hours later when they didn’t contact us, find they didn’t have it and be told a different email address.
This went on all day! So we had no outcome that day.
The next morning, my husband rung them and did not get off the phone until it started being sorted. The insurers decided I needed to get home ASAP to get a proper diagnosis and booked us on the direct flight home that night on Jetstar. I was able to fly business class (well the Jetstar equivalent anyway) and the rest of the family rode in the back.
The flight home was not much fun – being by myself was tough without the family to help too. Jetstar were really helpful until arrival where the wheelchair assistance I booked terminated at baggage claim.
I am still mad about this – they left me with no way to get around, no seats, nothing, at the start of the luggage area. There is no way I could get all the way to the luggage belt so I tried to leave.
I highly recommend that no one who needs assistance fly Jetstar.
Of course, I was picked by customs for a random search. Weird time to pick me as I had a tiny shoulder bag only.
This is where it gets embarrassing – I basically had a breakdown when this happened. There was no way I could hobble down the long corridor they pointed me down. They were shocked that the airline had dumped me like this.
The men still expected me to do what they asked despite the fact I was nearly toppling over and too tired and sore to move further. Thankfully, the only woman there got me to sit near her and wait for the rest of my family. Then my husband was able to take my bag to be examined instead.
I have lodged a complaint with Jetstar about my treatment. I wonder if anything will come of it?
Finally, we left the airport, got a taxi and went home.
I headed straight to Emergency and am still having appointments to work out what’s wrong exactly. I should find out tomorrow.
It was by far my most dramatic travel experience and not one I ever hope to repeat. It is so disappointing to be home and not to get to enjoy our holiday – it was a long way to go for less than three days! I’m scared about what recovery and treatment may be involved for my knee. And really, I wish the whole thing was over.
What I can say, though, is how thankful I am for travel insurance! You really are crazy if you don’t get travel insurance. You never know what could happen – I didn’t expect to slip getting into the shower and have a big injury!!
It cost about $5000 just to fly us home so the less than $100 we spent on insurance was so well and truly worth it.
And I really can’t wait until the next holiday at Christmas time. Crossing my fingers I will be all better by then.