A Sudden and Dramatic Goodbye: My Emergency in Costa Rica

Costa Rica was beautiful, for the whole two days I was there.

On Monday I was involved in a jet ski accident. No one saw it happen and I have no memory of it, but my best guess is that I was too close to shore when a wave crested, knocking me on the sand and the wave runner on top of me. Judging by my injuries, it landed on my face.

Accidents happen. Bones heal. Bruises disappear. I’m not worried.

It was a freak accident; there was nothing anyone could have done to prevent it. I remember seeing the wave, which was about waist height, turn white and thinking “how am I going to get past this?”

The next thing I knew I was sitting on the ground, bloody and confused. In between those two moments, about a half hour passed that I have no recollection of. It’s a trippy feeling, not being able to recall something so huge, but perhaps it’s best that I don’t. My dad found me facedown, unconscious in the water, and he and my sister brought me to an ambulance.

As I mentioned in this post we were staying in a small town called Quepos, that had only recently been made accessible to the rest of the country. The hospital wasn’t great. However, there happened to be an American ER doctor who was on vacation getting his leg checked out when I was brought into the ER, and he took over.

I can’t even begin to express how grateful I am for him. It feels like serendipity; I don’t know what shape I would be in right now if he wasn’t there. The Costa Rican doctors didn’t want to touch my teeth, so he jumped in and reset them. I screamed a lot, but he got the job done. Next, he went with me on my medflight to ensure my lungs wouldn’t collapse. His friend jumped in and picked my father and sister up from our rental house and drove them three hours to the San José hospital. Once we got to the hospital in San José, the ER doctors wanted to give me an ultrasound, however, it was very clear I had a traumatic head injury and needed a CT scan first. They wouldn’t do it because I had no insurance information on me. He felt they were being extremely unethical-given the state I was in, I couldn’t wait to have a CT scan- so he put $7,100 on his credit card to get it done for me.

You read that right. $7,100 to save a stranger’s life without any hesitation whatsoever. I’m crying just thinking about it.

The next morning he and his friend came to check on me before driving back to Quepos. He’s kept in touch with my parents, sister and fiancé to make sure I’m doing well.

Angels exist, and they exist in the real world.

I spent two days in the ICU before I was released. I made such a swift improvement, I didn’t even have to spend time in a regular recovery room. I went straight to the airport and went straight home. The road to recovery will be a long one, but I’m traveling it with a lot of support and I’m grateful for that.

It’s a real bummer my trip to Costa Rica was cut so short, but I believe everything happens for a reason and I know I’ll go back. I hope to even stay in the same place and complete all my plans- except for maybe the jet skiing part. 🙂

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8 thoughts on “A Sudden and Dramatic Goodbye: My Emergency in Costa Rica

  1. Wow this post is very surreal Stephanie! Firstly what you have just been through, and then your positive response to it. I wish you well in your recovery.

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  2. We should set up a Gofundme and all chip in to pay him back! Such a great man! So glad you are alive to write this and find a positive ending! We were so scared! Xo

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    1. He was refunded the money when my insurance came through, but seriously, we’re looking for a way to say thank you! Dad was going to ship him some Omaha Steaks, since my emergency cancelled a BBQ they were having, but they don’t deliver out there. 😦

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  3. Stephanie, that is an amazing story. You’re so lucky to be in as good of shape as you are. A real life angel for sure, in the right place at the right time. Funny how that works. My faith in humanity is officially restored 😉
    Glad you’re feeling better and hope you have a speedy recovery.

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