PLACERVILLE, CALIFORNIA
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DR. ROBERT CATRON sits in his office at 4065 Motherload Drive in Shingle Springs. Democrat photo by Shelly Thorene

News

The accidental dentist

By From page B1 | October 29, 2012

Dr. Robert Catron, of Sierra Dental Group in Shingle Springs, might not be going on another vacation for a while — not if his wife Yami has anything to say about it.

Five years after  birth of the couple’s twins, Catron was finally able to talk his wife into a second honeymoon — their first vacation in seven years. The couple flew Yami’s mother up from South America to babysit, put themselves on a plane and flew to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, despite Yami’s misgivings about leaving her children. She even insisted that they write instructions for how the twins should be cared for in the event that both their parents were in a fatal accident.

“We had a great time,” said Robert Catron of their five day vacation. On Oct.2, they headed back home.

On the way to the airport  the couple was returning their rental car back to the rental agency when they were t-boned by another driver while making a left-hand turn.

“The top of my head was bleeding,” said Yami, “but I wasn’t in pain — all I could think about was my kids.”

Catron didn’t appear to be seriously hurt, but he had some pain in his abdomen area. After paying the police $380 to settle their half of the accident, the Catrons tried to get to the airport before it closed at 6 p.m. Catron’s pain began to increase and  he began to suffer respiratory distress. An ambulance was called.

It didn’t arrive for a very long time, said Yami, and Catron’s breathing was becoming more labored and his pain unbearable.

“I was so scared,” said Yami.

When the ambulance finally arrived, Catron’s distress was so serious, the drivers took him to the closest hospital in a poor section of town rather than the one covered by the insurance. As Yami fought through insurance snaggles, an ultrasound examination found Catron to have internal bleeding. Doctors wanted to put in a tube to help Catron breathe, but an anesthesologist ordered a second ultrasound and found a damaged spleen as well as a collapsed lung. He recommended immediate surgery to remove the spleen which he felt would rupture if the Catrons flew home.

“I looked in the surgery room and my dental office was way more sophisticated than their surgery,” said Catron.

Still, the surgery was performed and with a $6,000 medical bill on their credit card, the couple was able to fly to a San Diego hospital in a Lear jet, courtesy of the insurance company.

“I never buy travel insurance, but this time I did,” said Catron.”I told Yami to take lots of pictures because we were probably never going to be in a Lear jet again.”

After five days in the hospital, Catron was declared able to leave, but with a collapsed lung he couldn’t go by plane. The insurance company sent a town car and a chauffeur to drive him from San Diego to his home in Cameron Park. Yami flew home.

“The chauffeur appeared to be in a hurry .He was driving kind of fast down the 405 in Los Angeles,” said Catron, “and we came upon a road crew doing sweeping. He slammed on the brakes and swerved into the opposite lane and then rear-ended a car.”

Catron, the hapless passenger, felt pain as his back was slammed against the seat, but fortunately the pain medication he was already taking for his previous injuries helped out.

“I wasn’t hurt in this accident…I don’t think,” said Catron, “but for the next five hours, the chauffeur cried and told me his life story all the way home. That was painful.” So was the enthusiastic greeting from his 5-year-old twins.

“It took me a whole week to get home and I kissed the door when I walked in,” said Catron. A dentist for 20 years, Catron went back to work on Oct. 23, two weeks after arriving home.

“We were worried about our employees and patients,” said Yami, who also works in the dental office.

Catron, planning to be a pirate for Halloween, is trying to figure out how to show off his surgical scar and isn’t worried about any medical repercussions. “The surgeon in Mexico did a good job”.

As for future vacations, Catron said doubts if he will ever get his wife on another honeymoon trip again.

“Maybe we’ll just stay around here — or visit Lake Tahoe or San Francisco,” conceded Yami.

Wendy Schultz

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