I was lucky enough to spend some time in Utah this past week and had the opportunity to enjoy some of the usual winter activities* available in the mountains. There were lots of choices of things to do and, as someone who likes to stay busy and active, this was perfect for me. One of the activities I consciously avoided was snowmobiling. Most of the other people on my trip were very excited about speeding through the woods and enjoying incredible views of the mountains. Most of the other people are not me and have not suffered a serious injury while on the snowmobile’s warmer weather cousin, the four-wheeler.
About three years ago, I spent July 4th weekend at the home of my friends Paul and Jes.** Their home in the Catskills is on 30+ acres and, at this house, there are lots of choices of things to do (running, archery, gardening, fire building, bocce, pumpkin carving). Going around the property on the four-wheeler has always been a fan-favorite. I never really cared for going on the four-wheeler, but occasionally went along with it. This July 4th weekend, I went along on a ride with Todd*** because I thought I should try to understand why everyone loves this four-wheeler thing. Todd and I were driving around the property and were on our way to a side field when we came along a little stream that was a result of the heavy rain that summer. So Todd had to turn the four-wheeler around in what can be described as a many point turn because there were a few trees preventing us from just turning around. During one of the turns, the four-wheeler very lightly tapped a small tree. This very light tap loosened a branch from a larger tree resting on the smaller tree (again, lots of rain that summer) and this branch fell right on my head. Todd then looked back at me and said “are you okay?” To this I said, “I am not okay.” Now, I know I come off as a bit of a wimp, but I can handle pain and am not one to whine too much if I get a small bump on the head.
Todd then took a look at my head and almost at the same time his hand pressed right against my head. Then Todd told me that I was bleeding and he was going to take off his shirt for me to put on my head, so I would have to put my hand where his hand was while he took off his shirt. When we switched hands, I saw that his hand was covered in blood and as I put my hand on my head I could feel the blood spurting out (I know, gross.). So Todd put his very favorite t-shirt on my head, looked right at me to tell me I was going to be okay and we climbed back on the four-wheeler. Todd told me to keep my head up and to keep his shirt pressed to my head. As we drove back through the field, everything was getting brighter and brighter and almost started going white – which was freaking me out and I said something like “It’s so bright” to Todd. When we pulled up to the house, Paul and Jes thought we were trying to be funny by coming back from the woods with a shirtless Todd. And then they realized I was not getting off the four-wheeler.
Todd, Jes and I climbed into the car and started the 20-mile drive to the nearest emergency room. At this point I was starting to freak out and was more than slightly annoyed that my friends, especially the biggest question-asker ever Jes, were not keeping me talking. “Can you both keep talking to me? I don’t know why this is the moment you are choosing to be silent.”
By the time we arrived at the hospital, I was feeling slightly better and had realized that the white light was because I was staring straight into the sun as we drove back to the house. I was so focused on holding the t-shirt to my head that I didn’t think to look away from the sun. So I wasn’t passing out, I was just burning my corneas.
Right about now you are probably wondering what happened to the usual Rebecca, the one who tells funny little stories about roommates and cocktails and her gang. I am back. This story is about to get funny.
Before I could see an actual doctor (although I am not sure I ever did see an actual doctor that day), I had to talk to the intake woman at the front desk, some hospital administrator and at least two nurses. One might think the first question any of these people asked me after “What happened?” would be “How are you feeling?” or “Have you lost consciousness?” or anything other than what all of those people asked me - “Are you pregnant?” I answered it the first time, I answered it the second time even when the person asking me wanted to know how I was sure I was not pregnant (seriously, she said “is it because you have not had sex in a long time? ”). When the third person, a male nurse covered in tattoos, asked me, I believe I said something like “Why don’t you ask one of the effing other people who asked me the same question? Not one person here has asked me how I am feeling, but everyone seems very interested in my sex-life.” I am not sure if the man had a stutter before meeting me, but I definitely brought it out in him.
And then, finally, I got to see a doctor. This doctor told me I would need two staples in my head and assured me this was better than stitches because stitches would require the shaving of part of my head. He then asked me if I would like some lidocaine in my head to kill the pain of the staples. I asked him which was more painful, the lidocaine or the staples. “Well, sometimes we have to fish around a little bit with the lidocaine to make sure we get the right spot”. Not feeling all that confident about the abilities of this particular ER staff, I decided to limit the number of holes being poked in my head and declined the lidocaine. This means I got two staples in my head without painkillers. For those of you who have not had the misfortune of getting staples to the head, you should know the stapler looks a lot like the kind of stapler used to put very thick staples into a wall (or at least that is what it looked like at this place). And when I say “two staples without painkillers”, I mean three staples without painkillers. After inspecting his work with the two staples, the doctor decided one more would do the trick.
And this is why I won’t ever go on a four-wheeler, snowmobile, mechanical bull, motorcycle or jetski ever again.
*Well, I ran and went snowshoeing. So I did two activities and only one is really a winter activity. But I think the story works better if I make it seem like I did more than those two things and work. Go along with it.
**She sometimes spells it with one ‘s’. Go along with it.
***Eventually one of my stories will be about something other than a ridiculous situation with Todd. There is just a lot of good material.