Injury from seat belt

By Gail Riba
This item appears on page 23 of the December 2015 issue.

Heading to Dubrovnik, Croatia, on May 30, 2015, I was sitting in Premium Economy Class on a Lufthansa flight from New York to Frankfurt. Without having removed or even loosening my seat belt, I leaned forward in my seat to talk to my daughter, Dorie, who was sitting in front of me, and I bruised my liver!

I don’t think my seat belt was cinched too tight for just sitting, but I should have loosened or unfastened it before leaning forward. 

I knew immediately that I had done something because it hurt a lot, but I thought I had just bruised myself. Though an external bruise never appeared, the pain became worse.

I never went to a Croatian doctor, but there was a doctor among our tour group members and after two or three days he examined me, as did Dorie, who’s a nurse. They both came to the same conclusion: I had bruised, not lacerated, my liver. They said that if my liver HAD been lacerated, I would have been very sick by then, due to loss of blood.

The pain was sharp and 24/7. For the first two weeks, I tied an ice pack to my waist, replenishing the ice every time we went to a restaurant or hotel. (In retrospect, it has become quite a joke, how silly I must have looked.) I walked around like that so my hands were free to take pictures. I did not want to miss any part of the trip.

After about two weeks of a lot of pain, it gradually got better. I think it was almost two months before I could say I was mostly pain-free, but even then it would wake me if I turned over at night and ended up on that spot.

As I write this in mid-August, nearly three months after being injured, I can say I am finally OK. In the meantime, I learned that this type of seat belt injury is common in car accidents.


Wimauma, FL