For weeks, I wanted to go to Orient Bay and finally planned to on Sunday. I arrived early and reserved a lounge chair at Bikini Beach for the day. The beach itself was beautiful, clean, somewhat raw, right against the Atlantic Ocean. The weather that day was a bit dicey: high winds and showers, which chased us indoors a couple times.
I ended up befriending an American couple from Long Island who was spending a couple weeks on the island. They were interested by my move here, and we ended up exchanging numbers after realizing that we lived not too far from each other on the island.
Finally, the weather broke, and I returned to the beach. Despite the rough surf from the high wind, I went in the ocean a couple times, which would prove to be my downfall. In the ocean, I spotted a large, oncoming wave and proceeded to duck dive under it, but it was too late. The crest caught me, smashed me into the sand and dislocated my shoulder. I immediately felt something wrong and then saw the dislocation upon getting out of the water. It was pure adrenaline, so the pain had not kicked in yet. I ran onto the beach, wrapped a towel over it. Naturally, taking after my late grandmother's vanity, I did not want anyone to see me with a dislocated shoulder. So my first priority was to cover it up. I then ran to the closest beach attendant and asked for help.
The staff could not do enough for me. They immediately called paramedics. The beach attendant explained that he had used to do judo and dislocated his shoulder twice, explaining that the worst pain is when placing it back in (which I expected). My adrenaline was wearing off, and the pain was creeping in. Between the pain of the dislocation and empty stomach, I was started to get lightheaded.
Eventually, the paramedics arrived and wanted to know if I preferred English or French. I initially said English to err with caution. However, strangely, from the pain and stress, I was only able to speak French to them, which confused them because they did not know where I was from. First, they asked if I was Canadian. Then after seeing my license, they did not understand how I could speak fluent French being from the States. So, once again, I needed to explain my French lineages. One paramedic then asked if I was military because of my crew cut and beard in my drivers license, to which I replied no. He then laughed and said that I was was military in the ID but now I look Australian, with the long, blond hair and no beard. Customs actually had the same problem too.
Finally, we were off, and it was an excruciatingly painful ride: 30 minutes on third-world roads in a mountainous country. The female paramedic helped stabilize my arm the entire time. I confirmed with her that we were going to a French hospital and quipped, "Thank God." She laughed, nodding in agreement.
At the hospital, they originally wanted to carry me out by stretcher. The female paramedic and I looked at each other and both said no; it was a better idea to walk out. The pain would have been agonizing being bumped out of an ambulance on a stretcher. The ER immediately took me into a room. Right away, a French nurse came in to evaluate. He was in his 50s and cheery. After he and the doctor evaluated, they put me on Tylenol and morphine. I was sitting in the room, soaked, sandy in nothing but a bathing suit and sandals. The IV drip took the edge off, but the pain was still bad.
They walked me into radiography for an x-ray. Upon returning to the ER room, the nurse came in to increase the dosage of the IV drip. Another female nurse came in to assist and was puzzled to hear me speak French, knowing that I was American. She then noticed my pendant and asked if it was the crest of my American surname. I told her that it was the crest of my French side's surname, in memory of my late grandmother. It then all made sense to her, and we realized that we came from similar regions in France.
The male nurse returned with laughing gas to further relax me, which indicated that the x-ray had given the all-clear to proceed with relocating my arm. Recalling how bad the pain would be, I began to feel trepidation. I then heard them say to triple the morphine dose, as they told me to breathe the gas in deeply.
They doctor wrapped a makeshift sling over my arm, then gradually lifted it into an angel position and slid the shoulder back into its socket. I did not feel anything. Between the morphine, laughing gas and the manner in which they reestablished it, I felt nothing. It was the least-painful part of the entire experience.
Once back in its socket, they took one more x-ray and gave me the all-clear. During this time, I was on speaker phone with my friend trying to see if she could pick me up in the hospital. At this point, I was on a great deal of morphine, and the three-way conversation between her, the nurse and me was surreal. The hospital was able to call me a cab; however, I could not pay the hospital bill because the beach club still had my card. This meant a return trip to pay another day.
On the taxi ride back, I decided to stay at the beach club the rest of the afternoon. I could either sit home in a sling or sit at the beach club with a good meal in a sling, so to the beach club I went.
Upon returning to the beach club, I encountered the American couple/family again, who had heard what had happened. Apparently, it was the talk of the entire club all day. After explaining, I entered into the outdoor restaurant. It was like a hero's welcome. The entire bar staff, beach staff and restaurant staff were all around the bar (given the poor weather) and cheered as I came in, all wanting to know how I was faring. After talking to them for a bit, I told them that I needed two things: one, my credit card back, two: food and drinks (they did not charge me for the lounge chair).
They immediately brought me to the best table in the house and could not do enough for me. The bar manager asked what I wanted to drink, to which I replied, "surprise me, something alcoholic." A female waitress, in her 50s, had to open my water bottle for me. Upon looking at my meal, she asked if she could cut it for me seeing that I was down an arm. I timidly smiled and nodded. She came back three times to cut it for me. Meanwhile, I was sitting in the middle of the restaurant, still soaked, sandy, in only a bathing suit with a giant sling on me. Half the people at the restaurant knew what had happened, and the other half were probably wondering who this bum was sitting like this in the middle of a restaurant, with the server cutting his food for him.
After several hours, I was ready to return home. Before leaving, I made it a point to find the beach attendant and bar manager, who had helped me enormously earlier, to thank them and gift them a token of my gratitude. They initially refused it. I told them that after today, this place was my new spot.
The hospital bill, for ambulatory services, ER services, radiography and medication, only totaled €250. In the States, a family member underwent a similar situation, and her billed totaled $14,000 payable to insurance. So it came as quite of shock to see such an inexpensive bill, especially uninsured.
A week later, when I went back to the beach club for another day at the beach; it another hero's welcome. They all wanted to know how I was faring, and, again, the staff could not do enough for me. The upside, after all this, I ended up making new friends there.