26 February 2008

this is how I convalesce

I probably should've stayed home again, but one never likes to use sick days when one is actually sick. Where's the fun in that?

Typing is still an issue, but at the moment I'm managing to stabilise my thumb while maintaining the use of most of my four fingers. And of course it's my right hand, because I have to inconvenience myself as much as possible.

How did I do this?

Snowboarding. Naturally.

I was doing so well for the first three hours that I was emboldened to press my luck on a green trail (which isn't a black diamond, but I still wasn't really ready for it--clearly). I had a few initial falls--and in one of them sprained my thumb, which I didn't notice until something worse happened.

Then, continuing down the hill, a woman and her son began to veer in front of me. I tried to avoid them, and I did it so well that I fucked myself up instead. The front edge caught on the snow and down I went, face-plant against the hill.

Immediate headache. I could taste blood before I saw it, and then I thought it was coming from my nose. But the woman had turned around and was saying, "No, no, it's your head!" Great. She handed me lots of tissues and asked me a few pointed questions to make sure that I still had all my wits, then flagged down one of the ski patrol--who asked me all the same questions all over again. The woman had me describe my friends, since Lindsay and her friend Matt weren't far off, and she went to find them while her large Irish friend and the ski patrol man stayed with me to wait for more ski patrol people to arrive.

Lindsay and Matt trudged back up the hill to find out what had happened, and more patrol people came around.

And then one of the patrol-- "Do you think you can go down on your own?" I don't think anyone thought that was a good idea except for him. (Lindsay, later: "Was he on crack?") Instead, they packed me into a sled, wrapped up in yellow canvas like a mummy and shuttled me down the hill to the infirmary.

Those things look fun until you actually need them, by the way. Then, they're deeply embarrassing.

The EMS workers re-bandaged me (they'd done a make-shift job of it on the hill), and advised that I go to the ER. So Lindsay and Matt went to get stuff from the lockers while I sat around with a plastic bag of snow pressed to my head. Then we walked to Lindsay's car, but somewhere between the EMT station and the parking space, Lindsay's car key went missing. Awesome, right?

Lindsay was carrying all my stuff and didn't look very keen to go back looking, so I volunteered and went off. I retraced our steps back to the infirmary, but didn't find them, so I walked into the Lost & Found. L&F woman: "What happened to you?!" Me: "I fell, and I'm supposed to go to the ER, but my friend can't find her keys." But no keys had been turned in yet for the day, so I wandered back outside ... with the L&F woman following me, though I didn't know it yet. And Lindsay had come back from the parking lot and was standing in the path between the EMT station building and the Lost & Found looking for me and the keys.

I was dazed and upset and embarrassed, so pulled down my sunglasses and dragged my hood over my head. And Lindsay was turning to go back into the infirmary when the L&F woman appeared behind us and was asking if she should take me to the ER instead. And we must have been making a scene, because one of the Cliff Bar employees (who were skiing all over the hill offering free samples to whoever would take one) came over and asked what we were looking for--if it was a black key on a short leather strap, because he had found one and only just turned it in at Lost & Found.

Awesome. Hysteria averted.

North Conway's Memorial Hospital is five minutes down the road from Cranmore, so it didn't take long to get there--good, considering how long the line in the waiting room was. We got there at 1300 and we wouldn't leave until around 1830.

The wait was long, but the staff was nice. A nurse gave me a fresh pack of ice for my head, and Lindsay and I sat in the waiting room playing the name game (pick a letter of the alphabet and either gender and recite as many names as you can think of that begin with that letter)--dull but distracting. And I needed distracting since the headache wouldn't let up for a minute.

When they finally let me through it was about 1645, and it was to a reclining chair next to the utility closet in a room already occupied by two other patients. We didn't know how long I'd be sitting there, so Lindsay went to Walmart to pick up Scategories, but not before I sent her to the car to retrieve Dragonfly In Amber for me.

I was reading and one of the nurses came to check on me. I told her about my headache and she asked if I would take anything for it. I was afraid of the blood-thinning aspect, but she assured me that what they had would be all right. Then, she went off.

My back was to the door, when, out of the corner of my left eye I saw crutches edge up beside me. This was my doctor. She introduced herself and had me peel back the edge of the bandage on my head to see what she was dealing with. Yes to stitches and yes to a CAT scan. She asked if anything else was bothering me, and I told her about my hand, which hadn't been bothering me until I attempted to sign my signature on the admittance papers in the waiting room. Another yes to an x-ray for my hand.

Then she hobbled off and the nurse returned--with a Vicodin and some water. Vicodin? Seriously? Who watches too much House? Oh, right, I do.

I picked up my book again, but I didn't get to read much before another woman came around to take me to do the x-ray and the head scan. The x-ray was honestly the most grueling part. I hadn't eaten since breakfast, and I was shivering, so it was hard to keep my hand perfectly still when it wasn't firmly braced against the table.

The head scan ... getting all the jewelry off and out of my head took a few minutes, a sprained hand not making it much easier. And when it was over, the woman escorted me back to my room--where one of the beds had been vacated, and Lindsay had returned--as promised, with Scategories. The timer didn't come with batteries, so we played on the room clock and waited for the scans to come back from Radiology.

And on that note, can anyone think of an article of clothing that begins with the letter I? All I could come up with is "instep"--the inner part of a shoe, but I don't even think it counts.

After twenty or thirty minutes the doctor came hobbling back into the room with a clean bill of health. Stitches time. A male orderly wheeled in the cart with all the stitching supplies, and Lindsay and I were still musing over an article of clothing that might begin with an I. Neither the doctor nor the orderly could think of anything either.

It was about this time when I started feeling particularly embarrassed about the whole situation all over again--and said as much to the doctor. She told me her story was more idiotic than mine. So I finally asked her about her crutches as she was prepping me for stitches. She had been trying to reach something on a high shelf while standing on a swivel stool. The stool went one way and she the other, and her ankle folded under her.

The doctor was rubbing a local anesthetic in the laceration when Lindsay asked if she could call Nancy on my phone. I couldn't remember where I'd put the phone, only that it was on the bed somewhere and waved in that vague direction. Lindsay found it and began to mess with it as the doctor began to stitch me. Except that Lindsay couldn't find Nancy's number, nor the call history. She has the same phone I do, only hers is a first generation, and mine is relatively new.

So I took the phone back and, in the glare of the surgical lights, and with the doctor stitching my forehead, I looked through the old incoming calls, found, and dialed Nancy's number and handed the phone back off... I'm a good multi-tasker.

There were only five stitches, so it didn't take too long, and the local anesthetic was quite effective. By the time Lindsay was through talking to Nancy, the doctor had finished and was putting a bandage over the stitches. After a while the male orderly came back in and wrapped up my hand in gauze and an ace bandage. He also came with my release papers and a prescription for pain-killers--more Vicodin, yay! And then I was good to go.

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