During our 9-hour odyssey in the hospital on the night of the 12th, we were told that no airline will permit someone in a hard cast to fly – something about a vastly increased potential for fatal blood clots forming – and that we would have to find a “fracture clinic” to assess Diane’s situation in three to four weeks. Since we were scheduled to fly home in little more than three weeks, this added a layer of anxiety to the whole stack of dismalness we were feeling.
Not knowing who else to turn to, we had contacted Lady Rosse yesterday (Friday the 13th), and she was -- in addition to being sincerely concerned with Diane's well-being -- helpful beyond any reasonable expectation. She telephoned her personal physician’s office and relayed their message to us: instead of dealing with and through a fracture clinic, go to the regional hospital at Tullamore (just 20 miles northeast of Birr) and make an appointment with the orthopedics department as soon as possible.
So we were feeling a little more upbeat as we set out on Saturday morning (after yet another fabulous Ulster fry breakfast from Mabel Dunlop) for the long drive back to County Offaly through another day drenched with sunshine.
The Garmin GPS directions on this day (warily checked along the way with our Auto Association road atlas) proved to be very good: skirting Belfast and Dublin, and making maximum use of the island’s brand-new motorway system, the trip to Tullamore halfway across Ireland’s maximum dimension took only about four hours.
We arrived at Tullamore around 3pm and (after a quick McDonald’s meal – there are many, many more of those in Ireland now than there were four years ago) went straight to the Tullamore's Midland Regional Hospital. People at the main reception area directed me to take Diane to the emergency area, where our experience could not have been more different from the one 48 hours earlier in Coleraine. The wait was short, the intake clerk was concerned and helpful, and – as great good luck would have it – a semi-retired orthopedist was helping out in A&E that day. After a quick look at the X-rays we had brought with us from the North, he quickly concluded that all bone chips were from old injuries, that the current injury was no worse than a sprain, and that the cast should come off immediately. He liberated Diane’s leg from the “box” (as he called it) and prescribed walking as the best treatment, along with some fairly tight wrapping to keep swelling down. We were out of the hospital and back on our way only 90 minutes after entering it.
By only three days later, Diane was walking without a crutch, but still in some considerable pain. The pain would persist for the rest of our stay in Ireland, diminishing with time. We had to make some significant changes in our plans -- the Connemara Pony show the following week was clearly out, for example, as was a fairly extended trip to Derry and other points in the northwest -- but, all things considered, our prospects for our 2010 Irish adventure looked far brighter than they had just the day before.
We arrived back at the Bothy in early evening, two very, very happy and relieved people.
A short slideshow of images from August 13 and 14 is available here.