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Abseiling and the emergency services

Well, an interesting few days for my penultimate log entry. On Wenesday I took the train from Cronulla to Katoomba in the Blue Mountains (for the amazing cost of only AUS$8.60 for a three hour ride) and booked two nights in the YHA hostel so that I could get an early start on Thursday for a full day of abseiling. I arrived early afternoon and spent the rest of the day exploring the small town, it's antique shops and adventure clothing shops.DBC746CB2219AC6817E7B91BC7C62DCA.jpgDBC8C45D2219AC681795F6082D813D30.jpgWhen I arrived for the abseiling the next morning I was pleased to discover that there were only three of us, which would mean not too much standing around, and we were an all female group. DBCA0DAC2219AC6817CBE10FDDFCE3EB.jpg It was to be a 200 metre descent in six stages and, after a short walk among the rocks to the starting point,45D3E4F42219AC6817464CA201F03971.jpg Veronica agreed to be first over the edge followed by Jen. DBCBB20E2219AC6817CED5FD64DDD648.jpgDBCD17082219AC6817B4F709FFD53425.jpgI have to confess to some trepidation on that first descent which was about 35metres to the ledge but all went well as did the second shorter 12metre descent. On the third, 45 metre descent, I went over the edge first and had got into my stride (or bounce) by then and I was really enjoying it. That is until about half way down when my right foot found the wall for my toes to rest on but there was a gap underneath into which my heel swung with all the force of my body behind it. I felt a searing pain through my ankle and up my calf and had to stop myself in mid-air to catch my breath. I continued the descent, very slowly, but could not put any pressure at all on my right foot and had to make my way to the ledge with only my left foot fending off. When the others got down to me I had managed to find a place to sit and to elevate my foot and Jen, who was a junior hospital doctor from London, examined it and diagnosed a partial tear to the Achilles tendon. Our guide Dan strapped it up to stop the swelling and to get it back into my shoe and I thought I might be able to contine with care but I quickly realised that would be impossible. At this stage we were still 100metres up the cliff face and with three descents to go. I was not prepared to consider the drama and ignominy of being taken off by the rescue helicopter so Dan called in the troops from his office and we waited for three of them to arrive. One of the guides took Jen and Veronica on down and the other three tandemed me down. It was a brilliant team effort and actually a very good training exercise for them.
At the bottom were three police emergency rescue officers 771241172219AC68172112AC9F6CDAE6.jpg and one of them piggy backed me out through the forest to the boardwalk area where an ambulance crew and stretcher were waiting. 7720A1742219AC68179231681F442B16.jpgAll of us went back up the cliff in the scenic railway, which had stayed open after hours for us, and then I was taken to the Blue Mountains District Hospital where x-rays determined that nothing was broken but that (as Jen had thought) my Achilles tendon was torn. I was plastered up to the thigh and given a pair of crutches 90_47260DA62219AC6817D050A8CBE5D5EF.jpgand a referral for ultra-sound the following day.
Jen was fantastic, she and Dylan, the owner of the expedition centre, came in with my personal stuff and then Dylan went back to the YHA to pick up my 'phone (left under my pillow that morning, duh!) and to talk to them about my accommodation. I was staying in a four dorm room on a top bunk and it was obvious that was not going to work for that night. He came back with the key to a ground floor private room and I'm not sure whether the cost of that was on him or the YHA but I did not get charged.
Jen stayed with me in the hospital for the whole five hours I was there and then took me back to the hostel in a taxi and made sure I was settled in for the night. For someone I had just met that day she was absolutely brilliant and I can't thank her enough for her generousity and kindness. She also came to visit me in the hostel the next day, while I was waiting for Tom to pick me up, and brought me emergency supplies of paracetamol, chocolate and a miniature brandy. I am sure we will stay in touch ?.
My ultrasound proved that I have a full rupture to the achilles but I should be able to get back to the UK for ongoing treatment which will involve ortho, a possible operation, a cast for six weeks and physio. No more hiking for a while ?.
As if that wasn't enough (do I know how to have fun or what?) on Saturday morning I woke up at Tom and Becky's place with significant back pain which got immensely worse and meant a trip to the local A&E dept 47BE27262219AC6817E72AAB5FD7A164.jpgwhere I was examined, given morphine and a whole battery of tests including chest x-rays, blood and urine etc. and diagnosed with muscle sprain on my right side which had put all the muscles on that side into spasm. By the time I left there I was so full of meds I was on another planet. Fortunately they have given me Endone and Paracetamol for the pain, Valium to relax my muscles and three days of self administering injections to prevent DVT on the way home. I also have a 'fit to fly' medical certificate with a note that my leg must be kept elevated so tomorrow I need to talk to BA about accommodating this.
Fortunately the reciprocal arrangment between UK and Australia means that all this treatment was free of charge, except for my ultra sound scan which my travel insurance should kick in for, and I really cannot praise the emergency services highly enough.
Tom and Becky have come up with a great way for me to shower whilst keeping my plaster cast dry 47BF13242219AC6817FF25F936C18FF4.jpgthe simple ways are the best ??. So, not quite how I had intended to spend my last week here (Becky and I were supposed to be hang gliding yesterday) but at least it is at this end of my trip and not at the beginning which would have been a complete disaster.
I know there are quite a lot more photographs of the experience on other cameras but they are not available to me at the moment. Now I just have to organise getting back to London on the 27th. To be continued.....

Posted by busyboots 22:09

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Oh so sorry to hear about your achilles tendon - it must hurt like mad, plus the back pain. . . good news that you can shower. I will be around if you need driving anywhere or nursing. Would you like me to pick you up at the airport? Take care and enjoy the rest of your trip. love and hugs, and a big hi to Tom and Becky. sue xxx

by suelloyd

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