On Day 4 we woke up and went to a nice breakfast buffet in the hotel that was provided for us. We met a few more of our fellow cruisers, and then got our bags from our room and went down to wait for the bus to take us to the cruise terminal a mile away. We got to the terminal and it was a mess. We had been led to believe there would be a separate “express line” for us, but there wasn’t. To add to the fun there was a jazz band playing and singing loudly, much too loudly, which only added to Gail’s stress from standing in an interminable line. We finally got through the paperwork and boarded the ship. The cabins weren’t ready yet so we went to the buffet for late lunch and to wait.
When the cabin was ready we headed to our cabin and it was just what we expected. All was good. All of our bags arrived by 6 or so and 6 of the 9 were unpacked before our 900 PM dinner reservation in the Polo Grill steak house. We had watched the sailaway from Miami at 800 from our balcony. We were full and tired when we returned from dinner and I convinced Gail that there was no need to immediately unpack three large bags as we had two sea days to get settled before arriving in Aruba. We went to bed exhausted.
On Day 5 I awoke at 0530 to go to the bathroom. I got back in bed and Gail got up to do the same. A minute later I heard a tremendous crash and jumped up to see what had happened. Gail was on her knees and right hand in the tiny bathroom. She said she was OK and would get herself up and come back to bed. She did so and I was back asleep in two minutes. I awoke at 0745 and she was sitting on the love seat next to the bed. I assumed she had awakened early, but she told me that her arm was seriously hurt from the fall, where she had hit it on the steel door frame. She guessed that the shoulder was dislocated.
We headed to the Ship’s Doctor who did an X-ray and exam and told us the bad news: it was a proximal humerus fracture and might require surgery to repair. A what? The upper arm bone is the humerus, and it has a ball at the end of it that goes into the shoulder joint. A proximal fracture means it is broken right at the ball and can’t be splinted. They often must be put back together with pins or screws. In addition, whether she needed surgery or not, it would take weeks of therapy after healing. He told us we would have to leave the ship at the next port to go to the ER there and then to go home for treatment.
We cried. The doctor reassured us reminding us we weren’t going home in a body bag and didn’t have a life threatening condition. We understood that, but were still totally crushed and heartbroken over the loss of one of our lifetime dreams, something that had taken much of our time the last two years and was supposed to take all of our time for six months. We headed back to the cabin totally dejected and started to pack up the suitcases that had been unpacked the night before.
Days 5 and 6 were taken up with Gail suffering severe pain with no drugs other than acetaminophen and eating bits of room service food. I had a couple of meals in the buffet but also ate with her in the cabin. Most of my time those days was taken up with internet messages and phone calls to our travel agent and the travel insurance company, and visits with ship staff to make arrangements for our departure. I won’t bore you with details of those hours of calls, arrangements, and negotiations. Basically, we had paid for the full trip and there are no refunds no matter what. We knew that. We signed the contract. We also signed the contract for the trip insurance to cover the cost of the trip, medical costs, and so forth. They would fly us back in a special MedEvac jet if needed, or would even return our remains if we died. But it all took arranging. We arranged to leave the ship on Day 7 in Orangestaad, Aruba, and be taken to the ER at the only hospital on the island of some 100,000 residents.