Costa Rica Trip Day 8 - 2009-03-13


Today was a beautiful sunny day. We got up to go horseback riding at 8:00 after we had breakfast. We met the guide and he introduced us to our horses, who seemed pretty nice and though not entirely clean. Once we got on them, Kellian and Liz's horses ran up the hill towards the lobby. Mine wanted to go too, but I was able to stop him. Their horses stopped once they got to the top of the hill and the guide led them down.

The ride was pretty nice, we went through some dirt roads that meandered through the green hills and forests of the area. We saw some cows and a monkey. The monkey was up pretty high though, so I didn't get a good view of it. I want to see a monkey, damnit.

There were impatients growing all along the path, which the guide said were natural. We got off the dirt road and on to a more rugged trail that was a bit steeper and more difficult. The horses did a pretty good job, but they slipped a bit.

After that, we got back on the dirt road and headed back to the hotel. The road was fairly straight and good, so I let my horse go a little faster, and Liz's and Kellian's started to speed up as well. Clearly they wanted to go even faster, but we were able to get them to slow down. Once we turned into the entrance to the resort, however, they all took off. Kellian's and Liz's horses started going faster and faster, and mine wanted to as well, though I was able to get it to slow down.

Kellian and Liz's horses went galloping around the corner and the guides kicked their horses into gear to follow them. I was a bit surprised that they were allowed to get that far ahead of us. I followed along as slowly as I could. I could tell from the tracks as I was following them that the horses had continued to run at full speed down the dirt road, which made me worry.

As I came around another bend, I saw Kellian on the ground with the guide crouching next to her. She had one leg extended, so I was nervous that she had broken her leg. As I got closer, I heard that she was crying, so I jumped off my horse and ran up to her.

(Now would be a good time to tell you that she is fine, so you don't worry too much as I tell the rest of this.)

I got up to Kellian and she was crying that her head hurt and blood was running from the back of her head down her neck. The guide was comforting her, and asked me to hold the hood from her hoodie on her wound while he went to get help. Luckily we were close to the resort, so a golf cart came to get her pretty quickly. She was able to get onto her feet with some help and onto the golf cart, so I was pretty confident/hopeful that it wasn't too severe of an injury. Still, I was worried for her and upset to see her is such pain. She kept crying and saying that her head really hurt and that she was worried that something wasn't right.

The golf cart took her to a back entrance to the spa, where the guide and I walked her up some stairs and sat her down on a couch. Kellian alternated between times that she was fairly calm and times when she was crying from the pain in her head. We told the guide to send for someone to look at her, and he called for an ambulance.

We were way out in the middle of nowhere down a 2 mile dirt access road, so it took a while for them to get to us, maybe 45 minutes. Kellian really didn't seem to be getting any better, though I tried to comfort her and keep her calm. Eventually the paramedics came and asked Kellian a few questions about what happened and how she was feeling. They put some gauze on the wound on the back of her head and put a stabilizer on her neck. Then they put her on a stabilization board and strapped her down. They said that they needed to take her to a hospital to have her head and neck x-rayed and CAT scanned for injuries.

They tried to give her morphine, but Kellian refused. Normally she would be somewhat opposed to needles and drugs, but since she was so upset from the injury she was practically hysterical when they tried to get an IV in her. Eventually they got the IV in, but she still refused the morphine.

Next they carried her out to their truck. There wasn't enough room for Liz to ride with us, since they parked the ambulance at the beginning of the dirt road and took an SUV the rest of the way. The drive was pretty unpleasant. It was windy enough to make you motion sick normally, and Kellian was dizzy from the head trauma and lying on her back, so she was doing all she could to keep from throwing up. At this point, she had calmed down quite a bit, but it was clearly still quite unpleasant for her. The ride along the access road seemed to last forever, but eventually we got to the ambulance and got her loaded up.

The ambulance ride was a lot better, but the road was still windy and Kellian continued to feel sick to her stomach. She was on this stabilization board, so she couldn't really sit up to help the nausea. Eventually the paramedic was able to convince her to take some Dramamine through the IV, but of course that takes a while to kick in and we were too late. (Details spared.)

The ride was a little under an hour to the hospital. We were told that they were ready to see her when we got there and that there would be no waiting. When we got there, she was taken in to the CAT scan room for about 30-45 minutes. The doctor said the scans looked pretty good, but that he wanted to send them to a specialist to review them.

Meanwhile, they took Kellian to minor surgery to get her head stitched up. She ended up needing 6 stitches in the back of her head. The whole staff was very friendly and professional. We had heard that Costa Rica has great medical care, but it is definitely more encouraging once you see it firsthand. Once they got her stitched up, they moved her to the hospital room where she napped on and off for the rest of the day.

The results from the specialist came back, and fortunately her neck was fine, so they were able to remove the neck stabilizer. At some point, they got her to accept some pain medication, so that made her head feel much better.

Liz checked out of the hotel for us and took a cab with all our bags up to San Carlos, the town where the hospital was located. She hung out with Kellian and I at the hospital for a while, and we took a walk around town while Kellian was sleeping. After it got dark, she checked into a nearby hotel and I stayed at the hospital. They actually had a bed for me in Kellian's room, which was really great. I wouldn't have wanted to leave her by herself there, even though the staff was really nice.

I was pretty exhausted from the whole experience and Kellian was sleepy from the injury and the drugs, so we went to sleep at about 9:00. The nurses checked in periodically, but we both slept quite well.

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