We were practicing emergency stops, and I did a bunch of them without Hugh watching (of course).
Then Hugh rowed towards me and gave the command, "Stop the boat!"
I responded. Apparently, my oars were pitched assymetrically, and I flipped right into the drink. It was in the high forties yesterday. And I wasn't wearing my Dolly Parton blow-up safety vest. After all, I was in a class - not rowing alone!
I tried to get back in the boat a couple of times with no success. I think it was on the third try, when I felt a right lower rib "give." It was painful, but not disabling. In any event, I didn't want to try flopping over the boat like a beached whale again - this time with a painful rib.
I swam the boat eastward, making it to one of the houseboats. After what seemed like a long time, I got to the houseboat dock and climbed up the litttle dock's ladder.
We strategized that it might be possible to step into the LeMieux from the dock from above - tricky, but it worked.
By this time, my class - plus Jack B. and John A. with their freshly graduated Learn-to-Row I students had gathered around to help.
I'm sure Jack and John appreciated my spectacle - I wonder if there will be any Learn-to-Row II students out of that mix!
I rowed back from East Lake Union to Lake Washington Rowing Club, with Hugh commenting "It's starting to rain; we might get wet." Hugh has a "dry" sense of humor.
I slipped easily back up to the LWRC dock where Hugh and John helped me out of the boat. Somebody threw a blanket over my shoulders - and very kind Lise A. from my class helped me to the shower. I was surprised that even though I could row back to the boat house, my body had somehow converted to jello.
Hugh drove me to the Swedish/Ballard ER, with Lise following in my car.
In the ER, I was heaped with warm blankets and given tea. My body temperature was 97.5 - by no means critical. A set of rib films confirmed at least one rib fracture, and I have questions about a second matching one on the other side. You don't do anything about rib fractures really, except medicate for pain - unless a rib pokes inconveniently through a lung - which, of course, it hadn't.
Waiting in the ER under a pile of warm blankets, I started to cry. After the fact, of course. The very kind nurse asked if I needed anything.
"No, I think its just that my husband died three weeks ago. It's been a rough month."
I had collected myself before Dr. Kelvin Mar walked in.
"When I worked in Antarctica, we found that giving people sugar helped to raise their body temperature. Let me see what we have."
He returned with Girl Scout Chocolate Thin Mint cookies - the universal treatment for probably everything.
By the time I was discharged, I had made the following observations:
- There's likely to be another flip test in my future.
- You really could get hurt out there; probably a good idea to wear that blow-up vest every time.
- A flip test next to the LWRC dock is different than flipping unexpectedly; read that "easier."
- I think if I had trouble getting back in the boat, there are many others in the club who would have trouble also.
I am very sorry that my little spectacle might have discouraged the beginning rowers. Anyway, I'll be back on the water soon - maybe Tuesday - in a sweep boat!
Linda Gromko, MD