To continue from last week we are now at the beginning of August in 1993 after working as a head waiter at the Island Hotel on the island of Tresco , part of the Isles of Scilly in the Atlantic off the coast of England , and heading back to rejoin Renaissance Cruises beginning in November.
But in the meantime , since I had accumulated some money and knew a bunch of people in Europe from my previous contract with Renaissance Cruises plus my two years in Switzerland I thought I might do some visiting.
So I took a couple of weeks before heading back home to go to Switzerland first. I took a bus if you can believe it from London to Geneva Switzerland then a train and another bus to this Swiss town to visit this girl I had worked with on the ships. This turned out to be a rather short visit then on to where I used to work in Montreux to see what was going on there at the hotel.
Then things got rather exciting for me. Off to Kisslegg Germany to visit a couple whom I worked with in Switzerland. He was German and she was Irish and were running a restaurant. They had already a couple of young ones and one afternoon we were at the playground playing around on the swings when she says to me , why don’t I jump off the swing?
Well at first I said no but then when she turned her attention away I jumped but in a rather reckless manner . I was going to land in a bad way so I tumbled on the ground but the unfortunate thing was is that my wrist snapped backwards.
So here I am on the ground and I am looking at my wrist and just wondering why I cannot move a few fingers and for some reason my hand is out of sorts and twisted in an awkward way. Oh no!
I say to my friend I think I sprained my wrist and she says , no I think you broke it! Christ , here I am heading to work on the ship and I have to break my wrist. So I am riding the bike back to their place and I put some ice on it thinking that maybe this is all a bad dream and it will heal suddenly. A regular customer who is a nurse comes upstairs where I am and looks at it and says yep that is broken , you better head to the hospital.
After lunch her husband takes me to the hospital and it being of course Sunday there is a limited staff. Finally this young doctor who I guess had to be in his mid 20’s comes in and takes a few x-rays and confirms that my wrist is broken in two places. But wait , we have to wait for the anesthesiologist to come in and stick me with a couple of needles I guess to dull the pain before this doctor snaps the wrist back into place and puts the cast on. Right now my hand is being held on a sort of tension device without any wrapping or anything else to support it.
We are waiting and waiting for this guy to arrive and I am getting a little fed up. So I ask my friend , who was fluent German and English to ask the doctor who spoke little English , if we have to wait for this guy to show up. He says well of course cause when he snaps it back into place it is going to hurt.
I say how much and he says a lot. I then ask him if he knows what he is doing. In the room you could see on the wall where the two points are that he has to snap back into place. With blind confidence in him I just tell him to just do it. They both start laughing but I insist that I do not want to wait all day for this guy to show up and just get on with it.
My friend leaves the room , the doctor puts the x-ray thing on me and he says first he will snap this one into place and you could see the bone where it is disconnected. That is the worst one and then he will do the same for the other broken bone. I just ask him one thing that just before he does it let me know so I can scream away the pain. Sort of like a karate guy who when he breaks a whole bunch of bricks he yells out while doing it to divert the pain.
So on the count of 3 twice , he snaps both bones into place. He was good cause both times he got it on the first try. He puts the cast on me and takes a final x-ray and says it is all good. In 6 weeks you can take the cast off. I remember my heart sank cause it was 6 weeks and 2 days I was going to Antigua to be on the ship.
Fortunately since I was a European citizen at this point and being a member of the EU my British health card covered all the hospital expenses in Germany. My stuff that I left at this bed and breakfast in Penzance before I went to Tresco was still there as I had made prior arrangements that they could keep it till I got back from the hotel. Well when I went back to see them before flying out of London they saw my broken wrist and I asked if they wouldn’t mind they keep my two suitcases till I come around again after my upcoming contract on the ship was over. They said sure no worries! They were awesome people.
So I flew back to Montreal with a carry on and for the next 4 weeks till I was due on the ship I found a room to live in and bought a rubber ball to squeeze hoping some of the muscles would not atrophy during this time. I knew full well I would need them on the ship. It was a good thing I broke the wrist on my weak hand and not the one that carries the big serving tray with 6 plates on my shoulder or I would have been doomed.
Now you see the problem was now that I was out of Canada for such a while I was not covered at all medical wise. I had no address nor was I paying taxes. So what I had to do was go to an old doctor I had to get him to sneak me into the hospital and cut the cast off. We set it up for Thursday two days before flying to Antigua via Pittsburgh and Miami on the Saturday.
For about 15 minutes he sawed this cast off and when he finally removed it , he looked at it and said it appeared okay and off I went. But before that , I asked him why I couldn’t move my wrist and he then explains that now I have to go to rehabilitation. What! I am scheduled to work on a ship two days from now! You see I didn’t tell the ship about breaking my wrist.
I did arrive in Antigua two days later and was happy to see some old work mates. The hotel manager did ask me why my wrist looked a little lame and I said I had sprained it playing soccer and that it would be okay.
For those of you who wait on tables and have broken anything at all you could imagine this hand could not even hold a saucer in a straight position. It was so weak. Everytime for the first few weeks until it was strong enough again I had to cradle showplates in my arm and when I served food I had to use both hands to put the plate down. Lifting and putting down the trays on the side stand was tedious. Breakfast , lunch , and dinner service everyday. It was brutal but I got through it.
In the Caribbean every chance I could I would get in the sea to exercise the wrist. It has been the only broken bone in my body so far but the story behind it I think is what makes this one interesting.