I Went to NYC and All I Got Was 4 Stitches
So there I was, crouched on the sidewalk outside a Rite Aid on West 12th St in New York City with a handful of tourists huddled around me. I was trying to simultaneously dress a wound and keep my shit together. I was only moderately successful on both fronts.
“I think you’re going to need stitches,” one guy said in between Google searches for urgent care clinics. “Noooo…,” I thought as a wave of anxiety hit me. It was only day two of my vacation in the city.
So what happened? I made the mistake of wearing sandals in the city. I made the mistake of bounding up the steps from the subway. I tripped. I fell up the stairs and sliced open the underside of my big toe on a step. A gross, dirty, NYC subway step of all things.
At first, I thought I’d just stubbed my toe and brushed it off when the guy walking up next to me asked if I was ok. But my toe was hurting. Once I pushed past the turnstile I looked down. “Holy shit. I’m bleeding. Quite a bit.” I immediately dug out the pack of tissues I kept in my purse and tried to get my sandal off to assess the damage while keeping the mounting nausea and panic at bay as the tissues turned bright red as soon as they touched my foot. I don’t deal well with injuries.
Thankful for tourists and Google
It was only a moment before the first group of young tourists stopped to help me. I never got their names but I’ll forever be thankful to them. They Googled a clinic, secured me a cab, helped me make a makeshift tourniquet with a hair tie and wad of tissues, and helped me up the last set of stairs to the outside world.
The cab dropped me off at the corner and I hobbled to the next building only to discover that the clinic was closed. It was Sunday at 7:30pm. Shit. That’s when I spotted a Rite Aid and hobbled over to at least get some gauze pads, tape, water, and antibiotic ointment.
That’s when the second group of 20-something tourists stopped to see if I needed help. A girl helped me tape the gauze pad to my toe while the guys Googled for another clinic. It was only around the corner so, after assuring them I wasn’t about to pass out and could make it there on my own, I set out. It was also closed. Dammit.
I pulled out my phone and did a search. I haven’t been as thankful to have a data plan as I was right then, alone and bleeding on a New York sidewalk. I had an unlimited data plan for my trip so I didn’t have to worry about crazy roaming fees while I frantically searched for a clinic that would be open. CityMD was open until 9pm. Hallelujah.
The waiting room of the clinic could’ve been the lobby of a hotel. It was modern, airy, and minimalist…and not crammed with people. I told the receptionist what had happened and that I was Canadian so yes, I knew I was going to need to pay up front. Dreams of Broadway shows and shoe shopping going out the window as I thought about how much my clumsiness was going to cost me up front. In less than 20 minutes a doctor was looking after my foot. Yep, stitches were definitely needed.
Again, thanks to my data plan I was able to get in touch with my friends and family from right there in the waiting room to let them know what was happening. It kept me from feeling all alone since I was travelling solo. They kept my anxiety in check. Friends rock, even when they’re 1,000km away.
The staff at CityMD couldn’t have been nicer or more efficient. I was in and out in under an hour, with 4 stitches, a very unfashionable hard-soled shoe, a prescription for 5 days of antibiotics, and instructions to come back in 2 days to have my toe checked again. The total bill… $325 USD. Could’ve been worse. At least I had insurance.
Short lived pity party
The first person I emailed when I got back to my hotel was my insurance rep. I wanted to make sure that I was covered. What a relief! I had left for my trip with only the assumption that I probably had insurance through my work plan or through my credit card. You really never know when an accident will happen. It could’ve been much worse than a $325 bill. I definitely won’t be travelling without confirmed insurance again.
After spending the rest of the night feeling sorry for myself, I woke up determined to not let it ruin my trip. I was slower than normal but I still got where I wanted to go. More often than not, the ugly boot got me a seat on the subway too. ;)
Knowing that I would be reimbursed for my medical expenses, I bought that Broadway ticket after all (and met one of the stars after the show). I even went shoe shopping, though I could only try on the right shoe.
Throughout my ordeal there were three things that I was very grateful for: kind tourists who stopped to help, an unlimited US data plan, and travel insurance. I will always travel with the latter two and hope to be the former if I can ever help someone else out.
My toe will be ok, but let us all have a moment of silence for my beloved Merrell sandals. They served me well and deserved a better end than to be stained and ruined in such a gruesome manner.
Do you travel with insurance? If not, will you now?
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June 22nd, 2015 at 8:06 pm (#)
Owww! That had to hurt Mel.
Good thing folks helped ya out. I’ve heard that type of thing can be expensive as hell without insurance.
Wishing you a speedy recovery.
July 3rd, 2015 at 9:37 pm (#)
I was lucky in that the whole ordeal (consultation, stitches, antibiotics) only cost me $325USD. Word is still out on whether I’ll get any of that back from my insurance. Loopholes…sigh.
June 22nd, 2015 at 10:05 pm (#)
Glad you’re okay and that it wasn’t more serious!
Yes Joe and I always travel with insurance (he has great insurance from his work that covers us when we travel internationally – not everyone’s insurance does that). I wouldn’t dream of traveling out of the country without insurance. One bad accident and you’d be paying it off the rest of your life!
June 23rd, 2015 at 10:42 pm (#)
Oh that sounds like a horrible and painful experience, but at least you had some helpful strangers and travel insurance to help you out. I think I traveled once without insurance, driving from Vancouver to Seattle when I was 21. My friend and I joked we’d just head back to Vancouver if one of us got hurt. Everything worked out okay, but I shudder to think of what the cost would be if something had actually happened.
July 3rd, 2015 at 1:06 am (#)
Ouch! Sounds like an unfortunate incident and I’m sorry you had to go through so much pain. Your story is a good reminder of the importance of friends and locals who reach out to help someone from out-of-town. I hope you feel better soon!
July 3rd, 2015 at 9:36 pm (#)
It’s been a couple of weeks and I’m almost back to wearing high heels again! In the grand scheme of things, it’s fairly minor, it still wasn’t any fun having to get stitches on my vacation.
July 26th, 2015 at 4:40 pm (#)
Oh dear! I am so sorry.
hope you feel better! Bethany
August 15th, 2015 at 7:56 pm (#)
so sorry to hear! hope that you could enjoy NY nevertheless :)
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