Thursday, January 08, 2009

Beautiful Place for a Mishap...

We spent a good part of our new year vacation here - in a winter wonderland that would make even the most die-hard winter hater (that would be me) forgive the coldness and the bitter low light and wind of winter to appreciate how beautiful it really can be.

When you're on a snowmobile high in the mountains deep in the forest along the border of a pristine Yellowstone Park, where it's just you and maybe some ravens flying overhead, it's absolutely stunningly beautiful.

So things were going great right up until the moment when I tried to make it up a large snow bank across the highway late Saturday afternoon. I say tried, because I didn't quite make it. And when I didn't make it my instinct, to stick out my leg to balance the machine as it was flipping over sideways, was the wrong instinct. I jammed my leg against the road, hyper-extending it as I went over and felt every ounce of breath in my body leave. I had to lay there for a while and contemplate how to catch my breath and to really try to ascertain whether or not I was okay - if I had broken anything or not. I decided that I must not have broken anything because it didn't hurt that much...just felt...weird. But when I tried to get up it felt like my bone in the upper part of my leg was fine, and the lower part of my leg was fine - but the part that connects them, around the knee area, that was definitely not fine - that felt like jello. And even when I couldn't do it the first time, I tried again, and that time I completely fell over backwards into the snow again, the impact breaking my glasses clean in half. So I'm on the side of the highway near the Montana/Idaho border wondering what in the heck I'm going to do. Soon there were good samaritans all over the road, stopping to see if I was okay. 911 was called, sherrif's deputies showed up a short time later, and a nice lady in a big green suburban gave me a sleeping bag to sit on and a thermos of hot chocolate. 20 minutes later the ambulance showed.

If it hadn't been such a scary moment I would have taken time to laugh at the situation. 3 ambulance people, all of whom are 'volunteer' which is code for 'retired and bored'. Maxine is the driver and she's about 80 years old. Maxine is a dead ringer for Virginia Fish, if you're familiar with Virginia Fish. Bobbie is in charge. She's only 70. Jane is along for the ride. Jane is 65. Jane is wearing a large crocheted stocking cap in blue and white. I'm pretty sure she knitted it herself. It has one of those large comical balls of yard hanging off her head like one of Santa's elves. Getting me in the ambulance is a major ordeal. The truck and the gurney is old. It's rickety and rinky-dink. It takes 3 sherrifs and the 3 ladies to figure it out, while almost dropping me twice because they can't make the gurney actually snap into place. It was like being on a scary carnival ride. Once I get in the ambulance I get to ride 90 miles with these ladies while Jane spends the entire time shoving oxygen on my face while asking me questions, if I try to answer them through the oxygen mask she tells me she can't understand, if I move to oxygen mask to answer her, she chastises me for removing the oxygen and shoves it back on my face.

Overheard in the ambulance on the way to the ER in Rexburg (the closest ER):

Jane (to me): Good thing you biffed it right there on the highway, we sure as hell would have hated to take the sled into the back country to haul you out! That just about kills us!

Jane (to noone in particular): Lord I am too damn fat for this coat!

Bobbie: Jane, don't forget you need to get on that CPR certification

Jane: I just did that last year sometime!

Bobbie: I know, but they've changed the requirements.

Jane: Well hell, what kind of new-fangled stuff are they going to expect us to learn now?!

Jane (to no one really): I am too damn fat to get back up in front, once I get back here in the back I am just stuck.

Jane (to Bobbie): What are we suppose to be checkin' on her? Her blood pressure or what?

Then I listed to 80 miles of Jane explaining to me her retirement from human services, how she ended up at the end of the world in Island Park Idaho, how her volunteer service with this ENT unit drives her husband nuts ("What the hell does he expect me to do? Sit around and wait on him all day? I didn't work all those years so that I could sit around a remote cabin fetching him his beer!"), her grandkids in Utah (who are teenagers and no longer care much whether she visits them or not), how the mormons made her pay double tuition for her ENT class at BYU Idaho because she's not mormon, how there are some good mormons including her neighbor Margaret, how God has called her to be an ENT and ever since she started listening to him things have been going really well, how her husband thinks she's a nutjob for talking things over with God all the time (But good Lord, I am up there at that cabin alone with him all day, who else am I suppose to talk to? at least God is a good LISTENER, which is more than I can say for that husband!)....

After an exhausting 45 minute drive that goes on like this, the ladies try to pull me out the back of the ambulance at the ER. Maxine the driver goes down flat on her butt on the incline while trying to pull me out and I am hanging out the door of the ambulance on the gurney like I'm getting ready to luge down the ER driveway. My dad who is there waiting for the ambulance has to help Maxine up - he asks her if she is okay and she replies with some disgust in her voice "I'm FINE, I'm a TOUGH OLD BIRD!". MRI in Rexburg. I had to come home without knowing exactly what I've messed up in there. Today, finally, I'll be able to see the doctor here in Phoenix.

But if you're going to have a mishap - it's a beautiful place to have one.


Heidi said...

That is hilarious! Not the part about you getting hurt, but the whole experience. :)

It is beautiful there! When I was going to Ricks College, we took snow machines out near Yellowstone and went all over the place. It was gorgeous.

Cynthia said...

That really is hilarious. Too bad the actual topic is not hilarious, just the situation and the conversation. I am so glad you had a joint injury and not a heart attack or a neck injury or something that actually needed on site care. hmmm.
That ambulance conversation is so funny.
Snowmobiling in and around Yellowstone has been one of our favorite family vacations.

Suzanne Barker said...

Oh Lezlee, so what is up with your knee? I am sorry to hear you hurt yourself, but enjoy your writing anecdotes about it!
You know people don't realize that your experience is really what happens in most rural areas. We take for granted what is available in the big city is available anywhere and it flat isn't. That is what I have been working with around the state and why we transfer so many patients in from rural areas. People really want to be extra careful when they aren't near the big city.

Cynthia said...

So now that you've been to the doctor, . . . what is going on? Surgery? Wheelchair? Yikes. What's up? How are you getting along? How are your getting around? Do you need help? Let me know.

Bandanamom said...

It's frustrating - I'm basically playing a waiting game, tooling around in a wheelchair until I can get surgery. I see the surgeon on Thursday when, hopefully, it will be scheduled sometime soon. I severed the ACL, severely tore the MCL and messed up the mediscus, also the tibia is fractured.

I am Boymom said...

Sorry you got hurt, but thanks for sharing the story. The whole ambulance scene was hilarious! What was the final verdict on your knee?


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