Leo in Seattle.jpg

My time in Seattle has not been as I would have liked it to be.  The catastrophic news is that I am not fit to carry on with the race.  I am absolutely devastated.  Right from the start, it was the whole circumnavigation or nothing.  Doing six legs of the eight is not what I set out to do.

Let me rewind.  After getting in to Seattle early evening, I decided to hold off the hospital visit until the following morning.  I had the accident ten or so days ago – another twelve hours wouldn’t make that much difference.  I went to the Emergency Room at the Virginia Mason Hospital the following morning, and the service there was impeccable.  And very quick.  The various departments were literally queuing up to get me done.  I had about 15 x-rays, a cat scan and ultrasound on both my legs.  I was looked after so well – even given a warm blanket (and I mean warm, it was heated) to put over me.  The doctor then came back in to give me the bad news.  “When are you leaving” she asked.  “Thursday, with the boats” I replied.  “No, I don’t think you are.  You have chipped your humerus in two places, and have a fracture.  You have also torn your rotator cuff and will need an operation to repair it.  Your shoulder needs to be immobile for six to eight weeks for a start.”  That brought me back down to earth with a bump.  If anything, I thought I may have had a bleed in my head as I hit it so hard, or my legs might have had something worse wrong with them, either of which may have stopped me from sailing on Thursday.  I really didn’t think that my arm was broken.  Unfortunately, there was no grey area – I was not able to get back on the boat whatever I did between then and when we left.

I left the hospital in a bit of a daze.  For the last eight months I have been battling both mentally and physically with a challenge that I knew I would struggle with.  I thought I was winning.  I thought if I could get to the USA I would be able to make it back to London.  Now my challenge has come to an end.  I am going home.  But I am not ready to go home.  However long I sat and imagined I was at home on those long, lonely night shifts, now is not the time to go.  But there is no choice.  I can’t move my right arm, so realistically I know that is the only option.  I feel a complete failure.

So many people have said to me how well I have done to come so far, how well I have done to cross the Pacific, etc etc.  I know all of that.  But it doesn’t make me feel any better.  Every time someone starts to talk about it to me, I have tears well up in my eyes.  Every time someone sends me a lovely message via Facebook or text or email, I have a little cry.  I won’t get this chance again – I have blown it.  For being in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Wendo has been diagnosed with a fractured rib to add to her head injury, but has been declared fit to go.  I am the only one being sent home.

For the last few days I have been going backwards and forwards to the hospital for various tests.  I am still waiting for an MRI scan on my shoulder to confirm how badly the rotator cuff is torn, before knowing what sort of surgery I need.  I am in the hands of the insurance, which means all is not going smoothly.  The MRI couldn’t be done at the time I was in the Emergency Room as my upper arm was still fairly swollen.  I have been given pills to reduce the swelling, and told to make an appointment for the MRI.  The insurance initially said that as it was a non-emergency procedure they would not cover it.  But then they made an appointment with an orthopaedic surgeon.  To cut a long story short, I needed to have had the MRI before going to the orthopaedic surgeon, so he has all information to hand.  The insurance, after agreeing that I needed an MRI, have now decided that they won’t cover the cost of the MRI, but I still have to go to the surgeon.  Not sure what the point is there.

My appointment is 9.00am tomorrow morning, and Paul flies home the next morning.  At the moment I don’t have a seat booked until I am given a Fit to Fly certificate, hopefully tomorrow.  It is all getting just a little bit messy.

I have not been the best of company for Paul this trip – I am so glad he is here, but I think he may think differently.  I am frustrated, deflated and generally unhappy with everything that is going on.  We have changed hotels three times, and even went in seven places this morning for breakfast before I found one that I was happy with.  I think he may prefer to fly home on his own in peace!

Apart from that, we have shared some lovely times with my fabulous Clipper family.  Chewie and Emily are both here, and are both getting back on the boat for the next leg.  I have done all the spreadsheets, menus and shopping lists for the victualling, but the one day I went to Costco I realised that was just a bit beyond my ability at this particular time.  It made me feel so ill – and I had to go back to the hospital on the insurance’s request to have my legs checked over again for blood clots.  They are still very bruised and extremely swollen from my knees down past my ankles and my feet.  Any time I spend without having them raised, they start to get worse.  OK for a little while, but spending hours in Costco was not ideal.  I had to admit defeat on the victualling and hand it over to someone else.  Or a group of people actually – no one person wanted to do it, funnily enough.

Each boat was sponsored for a night out by someone from Seattle, and ours was Ivar’s Seafood Restaurant.
It was fantastic.  I had the best and biggest lobster I have ever had.  It was beautiful.
And who turned up?  Sandra from Leg Four.  What a lovely surprise.  She now calls herself our official stalker.  Long way to come for a free meal!  (Although I have been known to do something very similar!!)

I have also been to my first baseball game.  The Visit Seattle Skipper Huw Fernie was pitching the first ball at the Seattle Mariners vs Houston Astros game at the Safeco Field Stadium, so all the Clipper Race people had the option of buying tickets.  There was a lot of us there.  Huw did very well, although I don’t think he would make an interview short list.
The game lasted about three and a half hours, and the two exciting bits were over in about a minute each.  There was one home run in the whole game, which was the most exciting.  The rest was a bit like watching paint dry.  But we stuck it out – hundreds didn’t.  It was quite cold by the end.  The amount of food that was consumed by the average fan was enormous – the whole stadium was packed with food outlets as well as people going around with trays of food as well.  Some of the locals had trouble fitting into their seats!

So, tomorrow I go back to the hospital again.  The day after that the boats leave for New York.  Without me.   There has been talk of having “guest writers” of my blog.  So many people have said they will miss having a blow by blow account of what is going on.  Especially those that have family onboard.  We will wait and see if that materialises………………………..


If you like Bridget’s blogs please give a fiver to her charity.
To all who have donated – you have helped raise £3,813.01 so far.
Many many thanks.