South Africa Car Accident: Surviving My Life-Changing Ordeal

June 8, 2014

On May 11, my brother Steve and I arrived in Cape Town, South Africa. I had several confirmed travel writing assignments and Steve was to shoot the photos and videos. We had a few fun days exploring downtown and Sea Point, and we hiked to the top of Lion’s Head where we were rewarded with a stunning 360-degree panoramic view of Cape Town.

Steve and Patti on Lions Head

Steve and Patti on Lions Head

lions head

We had a blast on our night out on the town at the Mojito Café as the guests of the owner, Kenneth.  We thoroughly enjoyed his charming hospitality, the tapas were delectable and “The Rivertones” was the best reggae band we’d ever heard.

At the Mojito Cafe

At the Mojito Cafe

But what was originally slated to be a series of fun adventure stories in several publications is now going to be a book about this life-altering event.  It’s not my first book, and won’t be my last, but it will surely be the most personal. Others who have survived near-death situations will agree that these things have a way of making you assess your whole life and what’s really important.  We recently decided that Steve will co-author the book, which will add a whole new dimension and perspective.

Our itinerary for the remainder of the week was to include a safari, a day at Camps Bay, abseiling off of Table Mountain, Penguin Beach, and cage diving with Greta White Sharks.  In fact, the shark dive was at the top of my bucket list, and the main reason for this trip to Cape Town which is the best place to do it.

But on May 14 as we were making the two-hour drive to the Aquila Safari, we were involved in a horrendous accident. Unbeknownst to us, our route was on the “corridor of death.” Our car was T-boned at full speed by another vehicle on the passenger side where I was seated.

I don’t remember being hit, and I was in and out of consciousness during most of the rescue. The only thing I remember is hearing the raw anguish in my brother’s voice because initially, he thought I was dead.  My eyes were open, even though I couldn’t see anything or move.  I heard him cry, “Oh no! Oh no!”

He tended to me with gut-wrenching pleas for medical help when he saw how badly I was hurt.  I felt his hands on my face and a kiss on the top of my head.  Even in my altered state, the agony and torment in his voice broke my heart into a billion pieces and that 10-second memory haunts me every day.

They had to use the Jaws of Life and pneumatic cutting equipment to extract me; my injuries were numerous, substantial, and life-threatening. The only thing I really remember was when they pulled me out of the car. I screamed with excruciating pain as all my broken bones were shuffled around.

I was rushed to the Worcester Hospital to repair my torn diaphragm and to re-position my stomach and intestines which had herniated into the thoracic cavity — a severe, life-threatening emergency that had to be remedied ASAP.  As a weird coincidence, the surgeon who worked on me was an expert in that type of injury because apparently that area was a high crime location for gang stabbings. What are the odds of that?

From there I was sent by ambulance to MediClinic Worcester. The back of the ambulance was not long enough to shut the back doors behind the stretcher. My brother had to hold my head off the edge of the stretcher so they could fenagle a way to close the doors. Unbelievably inept!

The surgeon had to reconstruct my completely severed left femur with a series of titanium rods, plates, and screws and to re-position it back into my hip joint which was crushed and had to be “cemented” back together.

My pelvis was cracked in six places (five in the back), left lung collapsed, my clavicle and right wrist was broken, I had numerous sprains, bruises, bumps and cuts, neck pain and frequent headaches.

south africa car accident

My first few days after surgery were pretty much obliterated by pain as my stomach and bowels tried to move up into the thoracic area. I had a chest tube. Depression was unavoidable, but ultimately, I was happy just to be alive.

Saturday, May 24. After four days of severe constipation and 10 days of meds and laying prone (do NOT underestimate the benefits of gravity!), I had pains that were reminiscent of giving birth. Suppositories and enemas did not work so they gave me magnesium citrate mixed in apple juice. OMG! I pressed the call button repeatedly, but no one came. Projectile vomit all over myself and the room. My roommate used her call button to get someone to come. The cramps got worse and it was an another day of extreme agony, followed by a Guinness Record amount of diarrhea for days. Sorry for the TMI. I could not imagine where it was all coming from — I hadn’t eaten in 10 days. To make things worse, they left me for hours on a child-sized bedpan. You can imagine the result. Yeesh, I hate this place.

After the bout with epic diarrheas, Steve said, “Do you think that’s why you are having trouble remembering things?” After a beat, I got it, and we both laughed until we cried.

Thankfully, I am a Christian with strong faith, and my remembrances of Bible verses and songs helped me endure so much in South Africa.

I thought of 1 Corinthians 10:13 — God doesn’t give us more than can handle, but along with the challenge, a way to escape that you may be able to handle it (paraphrased from memory). I’m clinging to that.

I remember one night that I was so wracked with pain that all I could do was cry and sing songs and part of songs like

  • “My great Physician heals the sick,

The weak he came to claim” (No Other Plea)

  • “I could not see through the shadows ahead

So I looked at the cross of my Savior instead

I bowed to the will of the Master that day

Then peace came and tears fled away” (Rejoice in the Lord)

  • “Who can cheer the heart like Jesus

By His presence all divine” (All That Thrills My Soul)

If all that wasn’t enough, I developed a painful and uncomfortable staph infection in my bladder from the catheter that was in for two weeks.  There were additional complications that, frankly, are too gruesome to list.

My brother refused to leave South Africa without me. He was with me in the hospital at every opportunity, usually making me laugh, which at the beginning was brutal.  When you have massive internal injuries, laughter is definitely NOT the best medicine. To be honest, though, probably 50% of the laughter was a result of his spontaneous gaffs. (e.g.: Me: “My left leg is so big now.” Steve: “I know! When I looked at the X-rays I saw one skinny leg and one huge one next to it. I mean, it was like 10 times bigger! Oh, I probably should not have said that… I’m no good.”)

When he was not at the hospital with me, Steve was working with the US Embassy in Cape Town, Africa Assist, contacting my Senator for assistance, chasing down doctors and medical records.  He also coordinated the efforts of Aimee,  Jaime, and other family back in the US who were working through the absurd, inefficient, and frustrating Blue Cross bureaucracy as well as my sister Aimee’s efforts to align orthopedic and thoracic specialists and physical therapists in RI for the many months of rehab when I am able to return home (which will not be until 7 weeks after the accident).  He made sure all financial responsibilities and logistical concerns – both here and back home – were being addressed.

He anticipated and took care of any need I had, no matter how trivial.  I was obsessed with my horrible hairy “Hobbit legs” because I was flat on my back for weeks and could not move much — he helped to get them back to normal. 🙂

Seriously, how many brothers would do this?

Seriously, how many brothers would do this?

I’m writing this from my hospital bed.  My thoracic surgery is healing nicely, and I’m working as hard as I can, though painful and slow, with my Physical Therapist, Lindy (occasionally Mandy) on my left femur at the MediClinic. My leg feels like molten lead — just look at it, it’s three times the size of my right leg! The doctor says it will go back to normal size. I’m skeptical.

south africa car accident

However, the only viable option for my pelvic fractures to properly heal is six weeks lying flat on my back. So here we are, stranded in a small, obscure town a little over an hour outside of Cape Town, South Africa, 7700 miles away from everyone we love and the comforts of America, which we have very quickly come to appreciate more than we could ever have imagined.

south africa car accident

My future’s so bright, I gotta wear shades 🙂

To say my recovery treatments here have been less than optimal would be a gross understatement – the Mayo Clinic this is not.  The problem is not my surgeons, Dr. Duvenage and Dr. Laubscher – they did an excellent job putting me back together, really quite impressive work. Dr. Laubscher has overall responsibility and has done everything possible to expedite my recovery and has written several reports and phone calls to Blue Cross urging them to transport me home on a stretcher flight, to no avail. They claim this is an “excellent facility.” Again, it is NOT.

south africa car accident

Dr. Laubscher – no doctor in the US has a bedside manner like this kindly man.

Also a shout out to my anesthesiologist, “Dr. DD,” who kept my spirits up.

south africa car accident

Dr. DD, the object of my transference phenomena (crush on your doctor). 🙂

But the hospital’s technology, equipment, systems, and procedures are light years away from our cutting edge hospitals in the US. I’m in a room with three other patients, faulty equipment, and constant noise and chaos. It’s been a real challenge trying to get the needed rest required to recover, but there are only four private rooms in the whole hospital and Dr. Laubscher is trying to get me into one.  That would be heaven at this point.

If you’ve spent any time in a hospital, then you understand what a difference the nurses make in a patient’s recovery.  The compassionate and efficient care in particular of nurses Bernadette, Eliah, Lucas, Trompe, and Randi have really helped me manage the pain and my recovery.

south africa car accident

Eliah, Bernadette and Lucas with Patti. (or is that Jabba the Hutt, I hate this photo :-))

An extra and unexpected surprise was Matilda aka “Tilla.”. Tilla is the nurse that assisted with my femur surgery, but of course, I was under anesthesia.  She felt compelled to visit me on her own time and she continues to visit me nearly every day. We’ve struck up a friendship that will last even after I leave.  She brightens my days with her cheery personality and discussions about all the things we have in common.

south africa car accident

My new friend, Tilla!

Another woman who made a lasting impression on Steve was Lynette from Aquila Game Reserve. When she found out why we never made it to the safari and that I was in a Worcester hospital ICU, she drove to Worcester. With no other info than that, she found me, brought me the Aquila mascot, a cute stuffed Rhino and then spent hours with Steve. She supplied him with a hotspot to contact family and patiently read while he used it, she drove him to get a bite to eat, which he hadn’t had in three days, she drove him to the “mall” to buy supplies and spent some much needed time just casually chatting with him to distract him from the situation. It was well beyond what we would ever have expected from someone we never met.

south africa car accident

Steve, Patti and “Rhino” from Lynette

My doctors insist I will make a full recovery; I’m usually an annoyingly optimistic person, but considering the active, adventurist lifestyle I led, my perspective from my current horizontal position is that it feels unlikely.  Still, I THANK GOD every day that I am ALIVE – I could easily have been killed or endured a brain or spinal injury.  I’ll make adjustments if needed, don’t count me out just yet, I want to do Zumba again!

One singular thought dominates my days: I want to come home.

No commercial airline will fly a passenger, not even in first class unless they can be in the upright seated position for the 20-minute takeoff and 20-minute landing, which I will not be able to do for weeks. My sister Aimee has spent, quite literally, every waking moment over the last 2 weeks researching the various “stretcher-type” flights as well as putting a stretcher on a commercial flight and has found that the exorbitant costs, from $40,000 – $85,000 – are well beyond our means. (Note: if you know a wealthy business person or company that might take pity and/or want some great PR by sponsoring the stretcher flight, please forward this post to them and tell them to contact Aimee Crouse at or 401.523.1685.).  Even the cost of two short notice, first-class seats in a few weeks will create a hardship, but there is no choice in the matter since I can only fly in a reclining position.

There’s no place like home.  Cliché?  Yes, but nonetheless true.

Let me take a minute to say this: I did not purchase travel insurance, but I will never, ever travel without it again.  There are going to be many bills that won’t be covered, plus the insurance carriers generally have representatives to assist their clients through the process.

This will make a lot of you laugh, but one of the things I dearly miss is internet access, which is not available for patients – hence, no contact with the outside world…and no Facebook, and I am nearly going out of my mind.  If I want to post or send an email, I have to write it on Steve’s tablet and he takes care of getting it out when he goes back to his B&B half a block from the hospital. He will occasionally take screenshots, e.g. if I do an update for FB and there are a lot of reply comments.  But keeping up with family and friends on a daily basis has gone by the wayside.  I miss you all!

On a more serious note, no WiFi has led to delay after delay in trying to obtain information because Steve has to leave the hospital and go back to his B&B every time we need answers.  It also makes it difficult to keep up with my lobbyist work.  I’m very thankful for my colleague, Ed Nagorsky/NKBA who is keeping me updated and holding down the fort without me.

It’s also impossible to write travel articles — not just the physical challenge, but my head is not in it. Brian fog persists, due to trauma and meds.

I asked one of the head nurses why this hospital is still in the dark ages.…  Can you guess the answer?   Ding, ding, ding!  Whoever said “money,” you win the prize.  They think WiFi is too expensive. Sorry, but I find that totally unacceptable – in this day and age, internet access is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.

As of now, we are at the halfway point in my pelvic recovery.  Because of the multiple stressful issues and ups and downs that we’ve had to deal with on a daily basis, I’m experiencing adrenal fatigue but I’m hoping that they will transfer me to one of their four private rooms as I’ve requested; that would really help. (Update, my surgeon made sure I was transferred and recovery sped up after that.)

I would appreciate your prayers and positive energy for Steve and me as we push towards the finish line.

Love to all,

Update June 2014

south africa car accident

June 16. It’s been a month and I haven’t been able to wash my hair. Finally, they sent three nurses to wash my hair while hanging my head over the side of my bed. Talk about the three stooges! You know how long my hair is — they brought no conditioner, and when they tried to untangle it, they got the brush stuck in my hair! It hurt like the Dickens! I finally said, “Just leave it with me!” and I was slowly able to get it done.

June 21. After 6 weeks on my back, letting my pelvic injuries heal, I was finally allowed to stand up (with the help of a walker). This was important because I cannot fly home until I can sit up for take off and landing on a commercial aircraft. It was so scary and difficult! And after a couple minutes of standing, I threw up then passed out. They said it’s not unusual, but it was distressing.

June 24. First time on crutches. I have no upper body strength and can hardly do it.

June 25. I was told I could take my first shower! I laboriously walked with my crutches to the bathroom. There was no power, no heating, and no handicap seat, so I could not take a shower. I was SO upset! This is a hospital for Pete’s sake, how can you not accommodate convalescing patients! The staff did feel bad and tried their best to pamper me; they sent someone to give me a manicure, pedicure, and (properly) wash my hair. Mandy (PT) brought me chocolate cake.

Update: August 2014

“If your plan doesn’t work out, make a new plan.” I gave that lecture to my kids many times. Now, I will practice what I preach.

My sister, Aimee started a Go Fund Me Page and held a fundraiser in RI that helped pay hospital bills and other related expenses. So thankful.

I am so happy to be back home!

Update: May 2015


Major milestone — I got my Scuba Diving License in Bali!

Update: May 14, 2024

ethnic dress

Wow. Ten years has gone by in a flash. I never did get back to 100%, but I’m thankful to reach around 90-95%. I can do mostly everything that I want to do, and what I can’t do (e.g. bungee jumping), I just don’t have the desire to do any more. I am still able to travel all over the world, which fascinates and inspires me.

south africa car accident

I can play with my grandchildren and enjoy family time with them, my kids, and yes, my brother Steve (who has moved from RI to SC, just 20 minutes away from me).

I never did write the book, although I did update this story with more details. I survived my South Africa car accident and came out on the other side.



If the timeline seems a little disjointed and there is some repeatedness it’s because it’s been updated a few times since first published on June 8, 2014. Please forgive.

“Count your blessings; name them one by one.”

My beloved mama in heaven would be so proud of her kids and friends who worked so hard on my behalf.

Steve.  Who could have such a brother as this?  No words written here will convey the truly selfless person that he is. He’s been the patriarch of our family since his early 20’s and all my siblings adore him as much as I do.  Once he got past his annoying teenage years when he did things like read my diary and eavesdrop on my conversations with friends, he’s been the one person I could always count on – my sounding board, my best friend.

Steve and his "snake" at Sea Point, South Africa

Steve and his “snake” at Sea Point, South Africa

Aimee.  Born when I was 17, my adorable baby sister has been the apple of my eye ever since.  Now my “Tootsie” is married with 4 young children and works as a trauma nurse, but that hasn’t gotten in the way of her efforts to try and get me home and work with Blue Cross to make sure my medical bills are taken care of. She has spent countless hours and her love for me is palpable – I can feel it through the thousands of miles between us. She has already set up orthopedic and thoracic specialists and physical therapists at her hospital in RI where I will go directly when I leave South Africa. Aimee will play a vital role in my recovery.  In fact, unbeknownst to her, she already has.

Aimee and Patti on the "Sista Cruise"

Aimee and Patti on the “Sista Cruise”

Jaime.  We call her “The Wolf” (ref Pulp Fiction).  Smart as a whip, Jaime became CEO of a medical company in her 30’s. If she can’t get it done, then it just cannot be done. She spent countless hours trying to reason with a bureaucracy  (Blue Cross) that ignored all empirical evidence. She is selfless when it comes to friends and family and I really appreciate the enormous amount of expertise and tenacity as well as love and emotional support she brought to the table. I’m looking forward to giving her a well-deserved hug in person.

Jaime and her daughter Kayla. Who's head chef and who's sous chef?

Jaime and her daughter Kayla. Who’s the head chef and who’s sous chef?

Donna.  Literally growing up as the girl next door and marrying my youngest brother Gary, Donna is compassionate, big-hearted, nurturing, and the first in the family to offer her help.  She’s a fabulous cook, and I know she’s already planning to make all my favorite foods when I get back, as well as helping me with all the things I can’t do for myself.  Our family is extremely lucky to have her… and we’re keeping her!

Donna and Patti in Galilee, RI

Donna and Patti in Galilee, RI

Gary and Jesse.  I suspect my brother and brother in law feel like they’re not doing enough but it’s not true. Taking care of logistical details like retrieving Steve’s truck from Logan airport and taking charge of the kids so Aimee and Donna can help with my return and recovery are no small contributions. I love them both dearly and we miss their sense of humor very much.

Jill and Nick.  My babies! Oh, how I miss them! Nothing lifts my spirits more than getting texts from them.  I cherish them and my son in law, Mark.  I also look forward to seeing my very special stepchildren, Chrissy and Danny, and their families when I return to RI.

Christmas with Nick and Jill

Christmas with Nick and Jill

Friends, I am truly touched by the concern and well-wishes from all of you across the US, Canada, and Mexico.  High school friends, designer friends, travel writer friends, political activist friends, church friends, old friends, new friends, Facebook friends.  Friends who have graciously offered their help once I get home. How blessed I am!

You may also be interested in:

9 Things to Do in Cape Town. The Last One Will Blow You Away.

Here’s How I Tamed Lion’s Head in Cape Town

This article may contain affiliate/compensated links. For full information, please see our disclaimer.

About the Author

Patti Morrow

Patti Morrow is a freelance travel writer and founder of the award-winning international blog Luggage and Lipstick and the southern travel blog Gone to Carolinas. TripAdvisor called her one of the “20 Baby Boomer Travel Bloggers Having More Fun Than Millennials” and she was named one of the “Top 35 Travel Blogs” in the world.

She is also the star of the upcoming TV series “Destination Takeover” which is scheduled to premiere in the next few months.

Patti is the author of the book “Girls Go Solo: Tips for Women Traveling Alone,” and has over 150 bylines in 40 print and online publications, including The Huffington Post, International Living Magazine, Washington Post Sunday Travel, Travel Girl, Travel Play Live Magazine, and Ladies Home Journal. She has traveled extensively through six continents looking for fabulous destinations, exotic beaches, and adventure activities for her Baby Boomer tribe.


  1. Comment by Ray

    Ray Reply June 8, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Thanks for sharing, Patti. I certainly hope you get better and be able to walk upright soon. We have not only FB in common but I too, have a Titanium femur! I got it after getting hit by a car while riding my bicycle. I was on the 25th of my 30 mile ride. I don’t remember a thing about it and witnesses say I was helicoptered out of there to the Bassau trauma center hospital in Long Island. I was in ICU for 3 days, had severe concussions and siezures. I had no broken bones on any pain surprisingly. I had what I think an outof body experience that has changed my outlook on life and relationships with everyone I know; even just people around me. You will probably take about 12 weeks before you can walk with a walker, then another couple of weeks with a crutches, then a few more with a cane. Can’t wait to hear you’re back!

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:17 am

      So sorry to hear you had to go through that, Ray. It sounds horrible. I’m glad I don’t remember any of my accident, as I’m sure you are too. I’m interested to know…. are you back to 100% or do you have any long-term limitations?

  2. Comment by Michelle

    Michelle Reply June 9, 2014 at 2:06 am

    I’m so glad to hear that you are on the mend. I hope you are able to get home soon. I’m so glad to hear that the nurses have been so good. I have no doubt that you will be as good as new, but take your time and try to get as much rest as possible. Blessings <3

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:19 am

      Thanks so much, Michelle!

  3. Comment by Suzanne Stavert

    Suzanne Stavert Reply June 9, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I am another stranger to you… a very new member to Boomer Travel Bloggers. Your story brings tears to my eyes. However, I can actually hear the optimism in your voice – you are inspiring! Please know that I am praying for your complete recovery and wish you the very best of everything! How lovely to have strangers in SA support you! Your traveling friend from Southern California, Suzanne

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:21 am

      Thank you so much for your kind words, Suzanne. I will look forward to getting more acquainted with you via Boomer Travel Bloggers when I re-enter the travel writing scene.

  4. Comment by Suzanne Fluhr

    Suzanne Fluhr Reply June 9, 2014 at 1:29 pm

    When you can stand it, I’d be very interested in reading more about your experience with Blue Cross—what they covered and what you believe they should have covered. I have a top shelf Blue Cross policy, but it’s part of a Preferred Provider Network (PPO) and a 2 day emergency hospital stay in Hawaii ended up costing about $2,500 out of pocket (so far). Back in 2001, someone sold my then 91 year old grand-mother-in-law travel insurance before she went to Spain on a 3 month trip. She broke her hip while there and spent a month in a hospital (actually, a very good hospital) and she had to fly home first class. The travel insurance company covered the entire bill plus two first class tickets—for her and my husband who flew with her. We’re heading to South Africa in October—-thanks to you, some travel insurance company will definitely be selling us travel policies. Best wishes for the rest of your recovery. You can sign me up on the pre-sale copy list for your book! (Instead of linking to my latest blog post, I’m linking to one that is more apropos of where you find yourself).

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:24 am

      Suzanne — I have one of those Blue Cross Cadillac policies too. Or so I thought. I would be glad to share more info when I’m back in the states. They have been absolutely HORRIFIC to work with. In fact, I’m dedicating an entire chapter to them in my book, entitled “The True Villain” or something to that effect, with lots of documentation as back up.

  5. Comment by Viv and Jill

    Viv and Jill Reply June 9, 2014 at 1:31 pm

    Hi Patti – It’s definitely going to be a long haul until you’re back to 100%, but you’re going to get there! Know that we’re constantly thinking about how you’re doing and sending healing vibes your way. 🙂

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

      Thanks Viv and Jill! You guys are the best! I’m getting better and better every day, and surprisingly, there haven’t been any setbacks. Can’t wait to get back to the US!

  6. Comment by Irene S. Levine

    Irene S. Levine Reply June 9, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    My heart goes out to you and your family. Stay strong (I know you will). You are such fortunate to have them in you corner.

    Hugs, Irene

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:26 am

      Thanks so much, Irene!

  7. Comment by Kay Dougherty

    Kay Dougherty Reply June 9, 2014 at 2:05 pm

    I don’t know you either Patti and I’ve never been through anything remotely close to what you’re enduring. I’m so glad you have a strong, loving and fierce network advocating on your behalf and keeping you laughing (even if it’s painful). I’ve always purchased medical evacuation insurance and a lot of my friends think it’s a waste of money but I always say I’d rather but it and not need it than need and not have bought it. This convinces me to stick with that policy (so to speak). I hope you keep your spirits up and get home soon. All the best! Kay

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:28 am

      Good for you, Kay! I wish I had purchased evacuation insurance… but we all think this can never happen to us. I will in the future. On a brighter note, I’m alive and that’s what I try to stay focused on.

  8. Comment by Doreen Pendgracs

    Doreen Pendgracs Reply June 9, 2014 at 2:29 pm

    Oh, Wow, Patti. I had no idea how serious your situation was. Just had heard that you’d been in a serious car accident, but didn’t know of all the internal difficulties you have faced and overcome.

    I’m sure you’ll be back to Zumba before you know it! Maybe we’ll be able to do it together at a class somewhere, sometime in the future, as I love Zumba, too!

    Wishing you positive thoughts and a very speedy recovery.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:29 am

      Thanks so much Doreen!

  9. Comment by Jackie Smith

    Jackie Smith Reply June 9, 2014 at 2:46 pm

    Count me among your well-wishers Patti. So glad to see this report as I had been wondering how you were doing. Please do keep us all posted ~ our thoughts and prayers remain with you!

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:29 am

      Will do, Jackie. Thanks so much!

  10. Comment by Patti

    Patti Reply June 9, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Patti ~ spelled with an “i” – the best spelling, thank you for sharing your story and you’re right, this will be life altering for you, but I suspect over the course of your recovery you’ll gain strength both mentally and physically. All of us in the boomer blogger world (and I’m sure beyond) are thinking of you and sending our very best wishes. Stay strong and take one day at a time. Best ~ Patti

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:30 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Patti! I look forward to being back with the Boomer Travel Bloggers community soon!

  11. Comment by Cacinda Maloney

    Cacinda Maloney Reply June 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    OMG! Patti, I wish you even more strength, and can not even imagine what you have had to endure. I am so glad you have your brother there to help you, although he, too, must be exhausted, too. Keep your head up and know you will make it home soon.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:31 am

      Thanks so much Cacinda! I really appreciate your kind words!

  12. Comment by Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it

    Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it Reply June 9, 2014 at 9:17 pm

    I have a feeling that you should buy stock in travel insurance, cause there will be a huge spike in sales. We’ve all been following the updates on your extensive recovery plans. We send you healthy vibes for being able to return home to your family soon.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:46 am

      I sure hope this helps someone else avoid a similar disaster. Thanks, Neva.

  13. Comment by Donna Janke

    Donna Janke Reply June 10, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    The tears welled up about half way through your post and fell in earnest when you started listing your blessings. I know you have a lot left to go through and I wish you quick healing. It is good to know you have such strong support in family and friends.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:46 am

      Awwww. Thanks so much for your support, Donna.

  14. Comment by Steve Fisher

    Steve Fisher Reply June 10, 2014 at 4:56 pm


    OMG! What happened to my world traveler? You’ve hang-glided in gale force winds, parachuted through tornados, hung off cliffs by one toe… so what do you go and do? Get in a car accident?

    Please recover quickly and get home. We all miss you and your writings.

    The world needs more luggage and lipstick. I’ll be the first to buy the book.

    – Steve Fisher

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:48 am

      Don’t count me out just yet, Steve. I won’t go down without a fight. I’ll be back in the adventure-travel-writing arena soon. Thanks so much for your support, as always!

  15. Comment by Sand In My Suitcase

    Sand In My Suitcase Reply June 10, 2014 at 5:16 pm

    What a horrible story! We feel for you! Thankfully it looks like you’re recovering well – and you have your brother by your side. Hope you get home soon…

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:49 am

      Thank you so much!

  16. Comment by Nancie

    Nancie Reply June 10, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Hi Patti. You are so strong, and you are lucky to have such a fab brother, and others looking out for you. Sending good thoughts your way, and I know you will get home soon!

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:50 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Nancie!

  17. Comment by Sand In My Suitcase

    Sand In My Suitcase Reply June 10, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    A thought – what about looking into MedJet? They would have the capability (we think/hope) to fly you home. Maybe this would be good PR for them?

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:52 am

      Yes, my family looked into every single stretcher transport out there — the costs are astronomical. Just because they have “Angel” or similar words in their title doesn’t mean a thing.

  18. Comment by Penny

    Penny Reply June 10, 2014 at 9:01 pm

    Your post was hard to read, but I’ve read it three times.Yes, you are truly blessed, but you are also a blessing to all those who are trying to move heaven and earth to get you home. We’re all hoping that every day will bring you closer to that goal.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:53 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Penny. They are much appreciated.

  19. Comment by Simon

    Simon Reply June 10, 2014 at 9:22 pm


    I was horrified when I learned several weeks ago that you had been involved in such a serious accident. I am glad to see that you are sufficiently recovered to share your traumatic experiences and I can only wish you a continued and uneventful recovery to the point that you are well enough to travel home.

    I noted that you mentioned in your article about having to constantly monitor BlueCross to ensure that all your bills are being taken care of but you have made no mention about what the insurance company of the person who hit you is doing to assist you or does South Africa not have some sort of compulsory vehicle insurance. It would seem that you would have some legitimate claim for this insurance to pay for your repatriation, not to mention your pain and suffering.

    And what about the insurance on your rental car and perhaps even the credit card company – assuming of course you used a credit card to pay for the vehicle rental – there might be an additional avenue to file claims with these sources too that could provide you with some additional funding to speed up your trip home.

    In the end all I can say is that I wish you a speedy recovery and good luck in getting home sooner rather than later.


    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:55 am

      We looked into all of those, Simon, and none of them would pay for a stretcher transport. But I’m cleared to fly on a commercial aircraft (although it has to be first class with full reclining seats) so I’m heading home on June 29th. I cannot wait to get back to the USA!

      • Comment by Simon

        Simon Reply July 2, 2014 at 11:48 am

        Patti – from what I can gather you must now be back in the USA. Welcome home – I hope that your continued recovery will be very rapid and you will be able to get back to your travels real soon. I guess you are now going to have to focus on finding that perfect margarita because I doubt whether your doctor will give you any sort of pass for more extreme adventures anytime soon 😉

        You might want to keep an eye on – based on your experience compared with some friends of ours Penny is going to do a post on an evacuation service that you may be interested in for your future adventures

        • Comment by luggageandlipstick

          luggageandlipstick Reply July 2, 2014 at 4:06 pm

          Thanks, Simon! You’re right — extreme adventures are on hold, but once I get my “travel legs” back, there are lots of other experiences to be had that don’t involve adrenaline. 🙂 I know Penny and will keep my eye out for that evacuation post. Thanks for the heads up.

  20. Comment by Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    Carole Terwilliger Meyers Reply June 12, 2014 at 9:14 pm

    Wow, what a story! Yes, you’ll have to write it up into a book. Meanwhile, this should have a lot of people clamoring for travel evacuation insurance! Am curious. If you had a good evacuation policy, would you have been able to go home earlier on?

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Carole, yes, a book is definitely in the works, although it won’t be published until I’m out of rehab, which is part of this journey. As far as evacuation policies, it would depend on their terms; a lot of them do not cover stretcher transports. You can bet in the future I will find one that does.

  21. Comment by Anita @ No Particular Place To Go

    Anita @ No Particular Place To Go Reply June 14, 2014 at 8:45 am

    I worked as a hospital pharmacist for 10 years and always thought that patient care was great until… I became a patient! There’s nothing to describe the totally helpless feeling of not being able to take care of yourself and at the mercy of the kindness of strangers. Good nurses do indeed make all the difference as does having an advocate to look out for you. And home becomes so much more than a word… Wishing you a speedy recovery.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:57 am

      Thanks so much, Anita.

  22. Comment by Tilla Engelbrecht

    Tilla Engelbrecht Reply June 15, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    It is such an honour to be viewed as one of your friends. You are such a great example of inner strength and I know that soon when you are home you will make a full recovery. Its not just that you went through this trauma but it happened in a foreign country and you were in a room where people speak a foreign language and yet you accepted it all gracefully! You are my hero!

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 6:59 am

      One of the blessings of this experience is that I’ve met some wonderful people and made new friends like you. Our friendship has made my “forced” stay in South Africa much more easy to bear. I look forward to your visits!

  23. Comment by alison abbott

    alison abbott Reply June 15, 2014 at 9:03 pm

    Patti-another stranger”s well wishes coming your way-a new member of Boomer Travel. My eyes are moist from reading about your ordeal, but your strength and optimism shine through. You, your brother and all invoiced are remarkable individuals. I hope our paths cross IRL one day! Best of luck to you.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 7:00 am

      How sweet! Thanks so much, Alison!

  24. Comment by Max Katz

    Max Katz Reply June 16, 2014 at 10:03 am

    Wish you a speedy recovery!! Hope to see you back on your feet soon..
    Saludos desde Mexico

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 7:01 am

      Thanks, Max! I look forward to seeing you and Kathy in the not-too-distant future!

  25. Comment by Eva Locke

    Eva Locke Reply June 16, 2014 at 12:21 pm

    Hi Patti,
    What a harrowing experience! I’ve been thinking about you and wondering how you were progressing. I’ve always seen you as a strong, determined woman, but the way you’re handling this is awe-inspiring! I know you will come through this even stronger. There’s no keeping you down! God bless you and your amazing brother, Steve! I am praying for a speedy and complete recovery and I hope to hear more good news soon. Sending you healing love.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 7:03 am

      Awwww, thanks, Eva. I can always count on you for support, no matter what the issue. You’re a very special person to me, and my life is enriched having you in it. XO

  26. Comment by Deborah Grimaldi

    Deborah Grimaldi Reply June 16, 2014 at 8:01 pm

    Hi Patty, this is Auntie Anita and family, I read your story and is was so devasting I cried most the way thru until I seen how positive and strong of a person you are, I am looking forward to reading your book, Our prayer are with you. Could you please let Steve know how proud of him I am. I so looking forward to both of you coming home so I can give you a big hug and kiss in person

    We love you so,
    Auntie Anita, Uncle Pat and the whole family

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 7:05 am

      Oh, Debbie, thanks so much! Those kinds words mean so much to me. I will be in RI soon and I will be there for a while, in rehab, so I look forward to seeing you, Laurie, and Auntie Anita and Uncle Pat. XO

  27. Comment by Lindi Hofmeyr

    Lindi Hofmeyr Reply June 17, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    It is such a honour to be part of your recovery! You are such a strong lady with loads of courage! Not only did you survive such a horrible accident , but you are recovering in a foreign country, “worlds” apart from yours! I really do admire you! You have made it this far and believe it or not, but tomorrow you are going to see life from a vertical perspective again!!! I can’t wait!!! 😀

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 23, 2014 at 7:08 am

      Lindi — I owe so much of my recovery to everything you’ve done for me. Not only are you a fantastic physical therapist, but a warm and compassionate person as well. I looked forward to our sessions, in spite of some pain which was necessary. We had so many laughs and deep conversations….. I really bonded with you and am going to miss you terribly. Please know how much you have impacted my life. XO

  28. Comment by Wendy Hoechstetter

    Wendy Hoechstetter Reply June 22, 2014 at 4:03 am

    Patti, I am so sorry to hear about your accident, which I just learned of, and am just glad that you are indeed still here and on the mend.

    I have cousins in Cape Town, the late husband of one of whom was, I believe, a physician, although at the moment I know she is out of the country. Please let me know if you’d like me to try to get in touch with her and see if she can recommend anyone for you, or at least help you get transferred to Cape Town where I would expect the medical care to at least be more advanced.

    I do wish you a speedy and complete recovery regardless.

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply June 22, 2014 at 7:04 am

      Thank you, Wendy. I’ve been released for flying back to the US on June 29, just a week from today, so the end is near. I have a long road of rehab, but at least I’ll be back on home soil with my family and friends to help, and the wonderful technology of the US.

  29. Comment by Wendy Hoechstetter

    Wendy Hoechstetter Reply June 23, 2014 at 2:54 am

    That’s wonderful news, Patti. I hope the trip goes well and you have a speedy recovery.

  30. Comment by Catherine

    Catherine Reply July 24, 2014 at 3:47 pm

    I am so sorry to hear about your situation. I have only ever spent one night in hospital and that was unbearable, I literally can’t imagine what it must be like spending weeks there. I really hope you get better soon and everything returns to normal. Just remember, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!

    • Comment by Patti Morrow

      Patti Morrow Reply July 24, 2014 at 5:19 pm

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Catherine. I’m progressing really well — walking with crutches and 50% weight on the injured leg. Getting stronger!

  31. Comment by Charmin - The Momiverse

    Charmin - The Momiverse Reply March 4, 2015 at 11:06 pm


    Thank you for sharing your amazing story. The world is truly blessed that you survived such a terrible event. And how wonderful to have such a caring brother! We missed you at The Momiverse and are so grateful for you!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply March 5, 2015 at 8:46 am

      Thanks so much for your kind words, Charmin. I am looking forward to continuing to work with The Momiverse!

  32. Comment by Charlie Alf

    Charlie Alf Reply June 9, 2017 at 9:32 am

    Oh Patti! What a horrifying experience you’ve had – I’m so pleased to see that you’ve turned it into something that will only make you stronger, happier, and make every day count. I love what you’ve written about your family; they sound like good, beautiful people and I know it’s incredibly important to have people like that around you, supporting you while you’re recovering! Stay strong, you will zumba again!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply July 19, 2017 at 7:16 pm

      Thank you, Charlie! It’s all good…I’m alive and nearly 100% and loving life!

  33. Comment by Veronika

    Veronika Reply November 28, 2017 at 9:22 am

    Oh my God, Patti, I only got to read about your accident now.. What a horrible, horrible experience. I’m left speechless at how loving and caring brother you have and all your close ones. That’s a real blessing!
    Stay strong, Patti! Looking forward to meeting again in 2018 🙂 Hugs from Prague!

    • Comment by luggageandlipstick

      luggageandlipstick Reply November 28, 2017 at 9:58 pm

      You are the sweetest, Veronika! I really appreciated how sensitive you were when we were in Romania and Moldova and a couple of issues came up that reflected back to my accident. You were very sweet. It’s all good though. I’m so thankful to be alive, and every day is a gift. I have not let the accident define my life — I’m still very active, just maybe do things a little slower than I did before. I still think I have a better life than almost everyone else! Hope to see you in 2018 for sure! xo

  34. Comment by Debbra Dunning Brouillette

    Debbra Dunning Brouillette Reply February 19, 2018 at 11:17 am

    Patti, wow! I had NO idea you had bee through this horrendous experience! I cannot imagine what it was like for you to be so far away from home and having to go through it all…and am so glad you had your brother there with you! You are a true survivor and I am awed that you have continued to pursue your wanderlust with such zest! Hoping we can meet up again somewhere in this big, wide world of ours! Stay SAFE!

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