"What's the worst that can happen from jumping off a diving board?"
This was the question 52-year-old Linda Dehnert-Rowe asked herself before stepping off a five-metre platform into a beach club's pool in Seminyak, Bali during a family holiday last month.
The Melbourne nurse didn't attempt anything fancy — no dive or twists — and hit the water in a seated position. The jump, shown in the video below, caused two spinal fractures.
"As soon as I hit the surface of the water I felt something pop in my back," she told Yahoo News Australia. "I had a bit of trouble swimming over to the edge of the pool but I managed to do it."
Hefty cost for traveller's one step in Bali
After being placed on a spinal board and being transported to a local hospital via ambulance, Linda had to cough up the equivalent of $1,000 before she received pain medication. She was "terrified" of moving after the doctors said any loose bones floating in her spine could "risk paraplegia".
"I was in this storage cupboard overnight with no call bell or instruments, and had to lay in my own urine on a towel waiting for the neurosurgeon to come in the morning," she said.
Despite being advised mandatory neurosurgery was required, she decided to trust her "nursing instinct" after seeing the results of her CT scans and fly home to receive Australian medical care when her travel insurance kicked in.
Medically evacuated to Melbourne
After being medically evacuated back to Melbourne, doctors told Linda she didn't need surgical intervention after all and instead the fractures would heal "with conservative management" using a back brace for 12 weeks.
Linda is feeling "blessed" to have not sustained more severe injuries and is urging Aussies to never head overseas without travel insurance.
"The big message to everyone is make sure you have travel insurance, and make sure that you are not engaging in high-risk behaviours, because you won't be covered by insurance," she said.
"All it takes is one little slip, one little mishap, for something to go wrong."
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