There is a moral to this story that is so important that I’m going to tell it to you right at the beginning. Buy travel insurance.
I almost went to the US without health insurance in 2008 (I’m used to Canada’s national health system, and this was my first time travelling to the US as an adult). When my sister said that she could get insurance for me for only $24, I said ‘why not?’ It was only $24, so no big loss. I’d been sick while traveling, but it was never too drastic, so I doubted that anything would happen to me that would require travel insurance.
And then the universe decided to take me down a peg or two. Or three. Or ten.
It was our first night in New York City. We were finishing our day by seeing Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart. Not knowing the NYC theatre customs, we semi-patiently waited in a line outside the theatre until 30 minutes before show time (seriously, New York, have you heard of lobbies?). The line moved, we went inside and we walked up the 8 billion (I’m possibly exaggerating) steps to get to the balcony level. The best part was that we were in Row B so, after walking up all those stairs to get to the back of the balcony, we then got to walk down a bunch of stairs to get to the front!
After putting our coats away, it was bathroom time. The problem: the line was really long and really slow. I toyed with the idea of going into the men’s room, because it was practically vacant, but I didn’t. I now wish that I’d tried, because that would have been interesting and I’d have been in my seat before the show started. But I stayed in the women’s line and the show began without me.
I hurried to my seat in the darkness, dodged a patron, and then IT happened.
My left kneecap dislocated.
That sucker just went as far left as it could go. The result was that I couldn’t move my left leg without it hurting like hell. I collapsed into a chair at the very back of the balcony, unable to move any further. As my sister coordinated help for me, I alternated between trying not to pass out and trying to catch glimpses of the show*.
Eventually I was taken from the theatre by paramedics, getting carried down the 8 billion steps on a stretcher. As I was being loaded into a waiting ambulance, a NYC Cop said to my sister “I’ve never seen anything like this before“.
Kudos to me, I guess. It’s not every day that you get to surprise a cop who works in freakin’ New York City!
5 hours and $2000 worth of medical bills (which was covered by my insurance) later, I was on my way back to the hotel. I had crutches, a leg brace, and a horrible hangover from the morphine they gave me (which did nothing to numb the pain I’d been in BTW).
And thus I spent my second day in New York in a hotel in New Jersey.
*If you are ever faced with this choice, pass out. For the love of all that is mighty, just pass the hell out. It will make so many things so much easier.