Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tripus Interruptus

So, where did we leave off? July 7 and 8 were spent anchored out in Pruth Bay off of Calvert Island and the private Hakai Institute, an archaeological and marine biology research facility. We’d just passed the last major “gateway” (rounding Cape Caution) into the truly remote segment of the Inside Passage!

Most of our readers know what happened next, but for those who don’t, well, here’s the story.
We woke up July 9 to a warm, sunny morning. Around 8:30 we pulled anchor to head north, with a planned destination in the Bella Bella/Shearwater area, 50 miles away. Above is a picture of our actual voyage, a 12-mile round trip, only the first half of which was under our own power.

At 9:30, just as we were about to turn north into Fitzhugh Sound, the “engine overheating” light came on, and the buzzer sounded: not a happy sound! We shut the engine down feeling relatively safe given that we were a quarter mile offshore, in 800’ of water and with no wind, waves or current. Bob went below, opened the engine room hatch and quickly determined that it was a broken serpentine belt. Not a big deal, in that conditions were good, we had a spare belt, and installing the new one was within Bob’s mechanical skill set.
So, into the engine room Bob went, and here’s where things began to go very, very wrong!  While wrestling the new belt on, for some reason the coolant hose on the front of the engine came off, burst, or the clamp gave way. Given the rapid progression into the very bad things that followed, we never had a chance to go back and determine the cause of the failure.
Bob, sitting in front of the engine, was instantly sprayed with two gallons of 190-degree engine coolant which resulted in 2nd and 3rd degree burns over 16% of his body: his hands, abdomen,  forearms, left leg and left hip. Luckily no coolant sprayed his head, chest, face or more “tender” parts.
So, 20 days later after a boat rescue by the staff of the Hakai Institute, and boat and helicopter rescue by the Bella Bella unit of the Canadian Coast Guard, a one-night stay in the Bella Bella hospital, three commercial flights from Bella Bella to Port Hardy to Vancouver to Seattle aided by morphine, and 12 days in Seattle’s Harborview Hospital Burn Center, including 2 days in Intensive Care, we’ve been home almost a week.

Cathryn spent all but 3 nights with Bob in the hospital (daughter Adrienne flew in from Denver for 5 days and stayed with Bob those 3 nights while Cathryn slept at son Ryan’s nearby condo), supplementing the care from the pros and advocating for Bob’s needs. Adrienne participated in Bob’s care including Wound Care treatment and bandage changes, not an easy thing! Son Ryan visited regularly and spelled Cathryn and Adrienne so they could go out to dinner one night for an evening’s sense of normalcy. Bob’s sister Lynn and her husband David transported us to Harborview on arrival from Bella Bella and came to the hospital every other day or so to spell Cathryn so she could nap and shower at Ryan’s condo, accompany Bob on walks around the hospital halls, or attend to other needs we had.

Tuesday, July 21 Bob was discharged to home, where Lynn and David met us to help get us settled in with groceries and lots of other assistance. Bob’s Harborview Hospital Physical Therapist lectured Cathryn to stop doing things for Bob that he could manage alone, so no surprise to anyone who really knows Bob, first off he started making his own coffee (above)! Bob looks fairly normal in this photo back home. Just don’t think too hard about what’s underneath those bandages. It ain’t as pretty as the rest of him.
We’ve been well cared for during this time by lots of professionals in two countries and half a dozen family members. Cathryn’s sister Anne flew up from Houston the day after discharge and spent 6 days running our household, earning the nickname Cinderella. Sister Susan arrives tomorrow to continue. Lynn and David have been  here delivering things, running errands, helping feed us, transport us, and lots more. And we have lots of friends (many of whom are nearby neighbors) who are offering help. We’re forever grateful for the love and support of the many wonderful people in our lives.

Now we’re beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and working to figure out how to get “Next To Me” home from Port McNeill where she was transported 80 miles south on July 14 by Rod, staff from the Hakai Institute, with crew Blake who also works there. Are we lucky or what?

1 comment:

Gary said...

Sorry to hear of this sad end to your long planned journey. But it just goes to show you can plan and prepare for any number of potential hazards and still encounter something completely different. Kudos to you both though for sharing all the details high and low on this unexpected detour. Get well and get strong and get ready to try this again!