As we walked down the dirt-packed pathway alongside the Estonian Palace of Russia’s Peter the Great near Tallinn, Lorretta stumbled over the lone rock buried sidewise in the path as she searched her backpack for her leather gloves. Our tour guide, Sergio, and I both heard her go down and as we glanced back we saw her holding her ankle. We were two days into our 14 day cruise on the Baltic cruise and at our first port of call. Sergio and I both were very concerned as Lorretta fought to hold her tears back from the pain. “Are you alright?” I asked. Her response, “No, I think I broke my ankle. I heard a snap.” As Sergio ran back for the car, I helped her up and to a nearby bench. I queried her, “What do you want to do? Go back to the ship or to an emergency room?” She replied, “Let’s go to a pharmacy, get an icepack, some arnica, and a wrap. It’s our only day here and I don’t want to miss it.”
Six hours later after touring Tallinn, having lunch at a restaurant shaped like an upside-down boat, and seeing the sights, we returned to our cruise ship. Lorretta went to the ship’s hospital as I went upstairs to drop off our jackets, scarves, and gloves. About an hour later, Lorretta arrived at our cabin with her leg in a “boot” and on arm crutches. She said the doctor told her we had done everything right except return to the ship right away! Because her ankle was not displaced, no surgery was needed which would have sent us homeward bound. The doctor told her to do what she could during the following days if we stayed on the cruise and to ice and elevate it at night. And so we did! Here’s what we learned about cruising with a broken ankle:
- The cruise ship doctors and paramedics are awesome! Lorretta’s personal physician gave a thumbs up for their treatment of her injury.
- Placing the lifejacket under the mattress elevates the foot of the bed to the right height and it stays in place unlike piled up pillows
- Folding 3 bath towels to form a mid-step allows easier step up/down to the cruise ship’s bathroom. Without them, it is a about a 4” step up/down which is tough to do with only one good ankle and on crutches
- Arrange early access to cruise ship tours with the tour desk so the walking from the holding area to the disembarkation point is lessened and safer than going with the tour crowd.
- Arrange seating on the tour buses with the cruise ship tour desk so the front row of seats is reserved for easier access. Don’t forget to mention which side of the bus is needed depending on which ankle or leg is injured.
- For private tours, let the tour guide know as soon as possible to wheelchairs can be reserved for the museums and palaces being toured. Also, it helps them bring a vehicle that accommodates crutches and allows for some elevation of the leg during the day.
- See the acupuncturist to help with the swelling and pain – luckily we had already booked him for the cruise although for a whole different reason.
- Make arrangements with the spa to use the large, walk-in (i.e., no steps!) shower. Again, luckily we had already signed up for spa access so instead of lounging on the thermal beds and sitting in the jacuzzi, Lorretta showered….much, much easier than using our cabin shower.
And most of all– Keep a sense of humor and an adventuresome spirit!