Many of you are aware I was off to Italy for 10days for a family wedding. We were ready to take advantage of any opportunity to travel. Unfortunately, I had a little acute injury during our day in Venice. I will explain our experience with healthcare in Italy and travel insurance while away on vacation.
Our first, of what would be many, bridge crossings in Venice, the Ponte della Constituzione, or the Constitution Bridge in Venice, Italy, sure did kick my butt! We arrived in Venice, had a cappuccino to start and took off for our walking tour. As most tourists arriving to Venice, the first few views are captivating, with cameras snapping the Grande Canal, the bustling water traffic and the picturesque old buildings built along the lagoon. Even though it was my third time to Venice, those first few views into this unique, beautiful world still mesmerizes me. As I am capturing these first views above the Constitution Bridge, camera in hand, I started to descend the other side of the bridge and completely missed the first step down. My left ankle rolled laterally, down I went, scraping my knees, but saving my phone/camera from smashing to pieces. I’m sure the fall was quite graceful when seen from behind. With utter shock of what had just happened, I managed to pick myself up and stand with minor discomfort. Once I got my bearings right, I descended the rest of the bridge to meet our group with questions of what happened. “I was just in awe of the view atop the bridge and totally missed the step”! The healthcare geek in me, immediately started thinking of the Ottawa Ankle Rules in my head: I could weight bear, there were no deformities at my ankle, and I quickly felt around. Tibia, fibula, navicular and the base of the 5th metatarsal felt good. I did feel something not right, but I couldn’t isolate exactly where that was immediately. We continued on our way, of course watching every step!
Some background on the Ottawa Ankle Rules; this is a simple questionnaire to follow when deciding whether or not to get imaging (xrays) for an ankle/foot injury. This can be helpful for many different people, particularly coaches and parents of active children. But please remember, if you are unsure, please seek medical care.
We continued on our way walking through the passage ways of Venice, with multiple stops for gelato and then took a break for lunch. After sitting for an hour, I had a real hard time rising up from a seated position as we headed to our next destination. Our family with us happened to have some sports tape in their backpack, so in the middle of a crowded piazza, I had my ankle taped to add a bit of support. I decided at that point that I wasn’t going to make it walking the rest of the day and that I should slowly made my way back to the train station. We divided up our group and Mark and I started my hobble back.
By the time we got on the train, the throbbing in my ankle was quite intense and I began to think about what my next course of action would be. By the time we got back to our hotel, our Italian cousins, had a physiotherapist waiting for me to assess my ankle. At that point, I knew that I would need an xray (now I had a very hard time weight-bearing), but had no idea of the process. The physiotherapist recommended I go to one of 2 nearby hospitals. Another of our family members is a medical doctor so she also made her recommendations and explained the process. I then started thinking about the possibilities of there being a fracture and if I was going to be able to fly home in 4 days. Was it going to be that bad if I had to lengthen my trip a little?
At this point, we had lots to think about, so we decided to call our travel insurance, and see if they could walk us through the next steps. Many extended health insurance plans offer travel insurance that is included in your regular plan. When we travel, there is nothing else that we have to do or add, we already have the travel insurance. Others, have travel insurance included on their credit cards, which is another option. In addition, others will purchase separate travel insurance, particularly if you have any underlying medical conditions.
The travel insurance support worker we talked with, opened a claim and gave us the names of the same 2 hospitals we already knew about. But she walked us through the two options of how the treatment would need to be paid for. Basically, they would either direct bill or we would pay the fee out of pocket and send in a receipt once we return to Canada. Luckily for us, the fee was minimal, 56Euros was all we needed to pay.
We were told by our family members that there was a good chance that Mark would not be able to come in with me, so I would have to communicate on my own. Thankfully, Google translate had me covered. I prepared to have to speak, I know minimal italian, or at least I try. But in the end, Mark was able to come in and the nurse that helped us, did fairly well with english. And we added Non Frattura, to our list of sayings. Not fractured!
After some rest, I did feel much better elevating and icing my ankle. This incident thankfully only altered 2 of our 10days. Others have gone through much worse, so I am thankful of the “Non frattura”! The only other advice I would give is to ask for a copy of your xrays and all reports. Just in case you have issues upon returning home, you have copies of what was done and the reports. I have a nice photo of my foot xray to add to my Venice experience.
A little side note provided by the bridge engineer in my life. Apperently, I am not the only person to hurt themselves on this bridge. The Ponte della Constituzione in Venice was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The bridge was put in place in 2008 and is the most modern bridge in Venice with the floor constructed out of glass. However, there is some controversy with this bridge, as the glass floor becomes quite slippery when wet and/or fog freezes in the colder months, making it the most dangerous bridge now in Venice. The floor of the bridge will soon be replaced with trachyte stone to make it safer and decrease the number of claims made against the city.