Ambulance ride in the Azores – Travel injuries

I caught a cold last week and had to stay home. This brought back memories from trips where I have fallen ill or gotten injured. Over the years, I have visited medical centres in at least 10 different countries! Way to ruin your holiday. Here’s an unforgettable visit to the Azores in the early 2000s.

When I was about 11-years-old, I spent the autumn holiday in the Azores with my family. Although this autonomous Portuguese archipelago in the Atlantic was much less touristy than other Portuguese destinations at the time, there were all sorts of activities for outdoorsy people.

Gymnastics and horse riding

I was especially excited about a pony trek we had booked for our second day. I was a wannabe horse girl at the time, although I never had time to take riding lessons, so the trek was going to be the highlight of the trip.

I started the day by doing my gymnastics home-training exercises in the hotel room. The thick, soft carpet was not ideal for jumps and tricks, and I landed on my left ankle. The ankle was a bit painful, but I insisted that I was fine and could go riding.

The horses were used to the route and knew what to do; All we had to do was to sit in the saddle and steer a little. At first I was doing well, but after a few hours on horseback, my foot was starting to ache. When it was time to descend from the saddle, I could not weigh it anymore.

X-ray and awkward ambulance

My mum took me and my swollen foot to the closest emergency room. When the young doctor looked at my X-ray images, he was very apologetic. I had several hairline fractures on my foot, so I would have to go to the medical centre in the city to see an orthopaedic. He was very, very sorry he had to bring such bad news.

I was about to walk out of the room when the doctor shuffled me into a wheelchair. Next thing I knew, I was wheeled into an ambulance. My mum followed.

Inside, an old woman was lying on a hospital bed. She was asleep and connected to a ventilator. We were planted on a bench next to her, and the ambulance rushed to the hospital.

This is the only time I’ve been in an ambulance. I felt like an intruder. My fractured foot definitely didn’t need an ambulance ride but I don’t know what was wrong with the lady. I hope it was nothing too critical, but we received very little explanation as we didn’t speak Portuguese.

Not so bad after all

My foot was wrapped in an ACE wrap and we bought a pair of crutches from a pharmacy on the way back to the hotel. Back in Finland, the doctor was shocked that I had not gotten a cast, but the wrap was practical in a hot climate.

I spent the rest of the holiday hobbling around with my elbow crutches. It didn’t stop me from visiting the hot springs, and I had plenty of time to read Lord of the Rings. Most importantly, I didn’t miss that riding trip.

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