06 December 2012

Heels Over Head

How to keep hot spots from turning into blisters during a very long hike.  If you're lucky.

a real-life adventure

Read Part VI here.

Now available in ebook format!

Chapter Two

One of my favorite expressions had always been how my life had been turned upside down by this or that. A career change, a new foster child, filing for divorce, moving from a small village to a very big city ─ I can't even begin to count how many events have taken such a toll on me that I didn't know which way was up.

All of those experiences left me with my feet on the ground. Taking a first step afterward may have been frightening and even unsteady. I managed. I conquered fear. I survived.

This time, things would be different.

How would I ever trust myself at the wheel again?

I could feel the cold, damp mud against my right shoulder when three men meticulously rolled me onto my side to slide the backboard beneath me. At some point, maybe when I found myself in simulated flight as I was lifted from my car, I caught a glimpse of sleeve shreds unfurling in the breeze of movement. Now, as I grimaced atop the stiffness of my new bed, I silently questioned how the steering wheel had so radically whittled my favorite Rockies shirt, a one-of-a-kind item that wouldn't be easy to replace. "Swing for the Fences!" it read. No one else had one exactly like it. At least not in Downtown Denver on home game days.

I tried to soothe my out-of-control breathing by visualizing the tedious steps of replacing my sleeve so the shirt would look brand new. The thought process also kept me from concentrating on how uncomfortable the backboard was and how much I wished the paramedics would stop taping pieces of me to the wood.

It was as if there had been a superb sale on duct tape, for it was coming forth in massive abundance. The scratchy peel of tape being pulled from rolls was going off all around me like fireworks tossed in a campfire.

"What are you trying to do? Replace the Pharaoh exhibit at the museum?" I thought to myself but did not voice aloud.

The dampness must have kept the tape from sticking properly, so they were using it more like rope to hold me in place, tying the ends instead of pressing them into place. The crew was so intent on securing me for the trip back to the city, nobody could hear me begging for someone to get the glass out of my eye. Of course, I'd waited for a rather inopportune moment to notice my right eyeball was being scraped with every blink. Raindrops poked me like wet pins but couldn't blunt the grating sensation. My salty tears had so thoroughly soaked my facial flesh, the sky's moisture could only trickle off my exposed skin like a car wash in the rain. I closed my eyelids and attempted to keep my eyes from wandering.

Flashbacks of the rear tires careening to the right prodded me and my eyes, so I tried to find a peaceful thought to dwell on instead. I remembered a surprise complimentary e-mail I'd sent to a co-worker the day before. I wondered if it had been received yet, and I thought about all the possible reactions my co-worker may have experienced, from annoyance to bliss. When I initially composed the warm fuzzy, I knew it would be welcomed as such, but the horror of my current predicament motivated me to psychoanalyze the consequences of my friendly impulse. Something to do on a rainy day, so to speak.

After all, it wasn't like I could pick up a ball of string and crochet snowflakes, or skim through a newspaper to pass my sudden unforeseen chunk of unproductive time. Long ago I had learned my kids' hyperactivity was contagious. By virtue of parenting them, I had become inflicted with the curse of busy hands. I hate being tied up!

The bumpiness of the shock-absorberless trek to the ambulance jolted me back to the current time and place. Every bounce forced me to remember that something was wrong with my left side and my shoulder.

Inside the ambulance, I could see the lines of traffic outside slowly crawling by through the ajar side door. Non-drivers were bobbing back and forth, hands pressed against their steamy windows, trying to get a better look at the oddity ─ which in this case would be me. I wanted to hold up a sign: "No, I'm not dead, and nothing's missing." A paramedic temporarily relieved the humiliation by standing between me and the open door to check my vitals.

"Not that arm, please," I cried as he lifted my left wrist to secure an IV.

He lifted the layers of blankets from my shoulder to examine my injury. My head was tightly taped, but because everything was so wet, muddy and bloody, turning slightly to look at my shoulder didn't pull my hair from the roots. The motion didn't do much good, however. Enough shirt sleeve remained to obscure the raw part of my arm, and the only skin I could see was caked with what looked almost like a sticky coating of burgundy-hued Rocky Road, laced with rocks instead of nuts.

The paramedic reached across me to stick the IV in my right wrist. I quickly took the opportunity to remake an important request.

"Could you please take the glass out of my right eye?"

He straightway dropped my arm in place and placed both of his hands on my head to gently pull back my lid and get a closer look. He then removed the IV bag from its hanging post and poked a hole in it with a hypodermic needle. Another paramedic climbed into the van from the open back door to hold my eye open while the first guy poured IV fluid across my face. Within seconds the chips flushed away, and I experienced immediate relief.

The respite didn't last long, though. The second paramedic had commandeered a pair of sheers and was blazing a path through my shoelaces, followed by my sneakers and then my socks. He tugged on one leg of my jeans, the only pair of '70s-flavored ice wash jeans remaining on the planet. The shivers that raced through my spine as he lifted the scissors to begin denim surgery put every pain in my body on second priority.

Read Part VIII here.

Table of Contents

Copyright 2012 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson
All rights reserved. No part of this book - prose, photos or graphics - may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without express prior written permission of the author.


  1. how can you remeber so much? I guess you really need to write it down. But, I know what those feet leels like.

    1. Monica, I wrote most of this in 1996; it truly was therapy when I wrote it. I hope what I recorded will help others who might be struggling with regaining confidence.

  2. I don't know which is worse - the glass in your eye or the realization that you couldn't do anything to help pass the time. (Not joking here.) It must have seemed as though things were happening both very quickly and very slowly. Ugh.

    So glad you're still with us to tell the tale! :)

    1. Thanks, Sue!

      Yes, I'm kind of glad I'm still here to tell the tale, too, but I'm biased. :D

  3. Catching up here. Am amazed at how you remember so many thoughts... probably because I have a poor memory.

    1. Ha ha! I sometimes suffer from poor memory; usually when stressed. Which I was at the time this occurred. Fortunately, I also kept a journal of the most traumatizing things, so there was no lack of detail whatsoever.

  4. This is kind of scary to read but it helps to know that you did survive this ordeal and, in fact, ride a bike and make beautiful snowflakes. ;)

  5. I've said this before... but I am so glad that I know that you're alive and well. You write so grippingly that I feel as if I am you as I read. This is quite a series. Is it a book yet? I'll buy it if it is.

    1. Thanks, KB! The goal is to publish as an e-book, but I haven't submitted it to the library of congress yet. It's coming! Things at work just have to slow down for a few minutes!!!


Dusty words lying under carpets,
seldom heard, well must you keep your secrets
locked inside, hidden deep from view?
You can talk to me... (Stevie Nicks)

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