27 December 2012

Heels Over Head

once upon a time

a real-life adventure

Read Part IX here.

Now available in ebook format!

Chapter Three

I recalled Bill Cosby's humorous account of his wife's labor prior to the birth of their first child.

"Morphine," she screamed. "I want morphine!"

I thought about the old western movies my grandparents used to watch, the ones in which bullet-ridden cowboys would bite down hard on a knife after swallowing a shot of whiskey.

I thought about all the hallucinogens I'd learned about in school, the odd-shaped pills that made girls stick their hands into burning flower-shaped flames and boys jump like birds from three-story buildings.

I remembered how my own children always stopped crying and forgot how much their owies hurt the instant they laid their eyes on the box of fluorescent glow-in-the-dark movie cartoon character bandages shaped like hearts, circles and stars.

Where are the real pain killers when you need them???

The ride back into the city from whence I had come seemed a lot longer via ambulance. Of course, there was no CD player to crank on this trip. The children weren't around to pester me about rest stops and which songs they wanted to hear over. And over. And over. I couldn't see out the windows. Holiday weekend traffic on a rain-soaked and accident-riddled highway tends to move pretty slow.

Three more accidents had occurred in the vicinity before my ambulance had even taken to the road, according to one of the paramedics. Four more ambulances supposedly were en route.

My children were going to follow in another ambulance, one paramedic explained.

"Someone told me my children weren't hurt ..." I began.

"I think they are fine, but there will be another ambulance going to Swedish. They will ride in that one. It's either that or a police car."

"The ambulance will be fine," I mumbled. It would be better than making them wait in the rain with the car for a tow truck. And it definitely would be better than having them accompany me, being as I was ... well, so properly undressed for the occasion.

During the long ride, the paramedic couldn't make contact with the hospital. Too far away, and too much weather interference, he complained.

The driver decided it might be faster to get off the interstate at the next exit and take side roads into the metro.

Bumpidy bump bump bump. Ouchity ouch ouch ouch.

The rough terrain of the road was magnified by the throbbing in my side. The paramedic had retaped my naked legs to the backboard with dry adhesive because I kept raising my knees. I wasn't trying to escape or anything like that. I was only trying to relieve the tension on my lower back. And the soreness of my shoulder pressed against the backboard.

My mind raced, trying to find something to think about to pass the time. I was beginning to think I didn't want to sit through a baseball game after all. Along with that thought came the oppressive realization that I wouldn't be able to call my best friend to let her know what had happened. The name and phone number of the friends with whom she was staying in Colorado Springs were back in my car. Well out of my reach. To make matters worse, my normally photographic memory wasn't giving me any breaks. Too many breaks of its own to deal with, I suppose.

I wondered if anyone would be willing to take my Rockies tickets off my hands. Maybe the paramedics ... naaa, they could have my shirt. Would I even have time to unload the tickets by the time the x-ray department was done with me?

I didn't know where I was being taken. During my first ambulance ride, I didn't have to wonder where I'd end up. Only one hospital graced the mountain hamlet where I'd once lived. I wasn't as hurt in the first accident ─ I was just head to toe in bruises, an incredible fashion statement for purple cravers.

I wasn't as humiliated then ─ I still had my clothes on. I wasn't covered with blood. Or mud. I was more talkative. I knew the emergency room doctor. I'd covered hospital board meetings for the newspaper for more than six years. I knew everyone at the then six-bed hospital, and all 10 or so staff members knew me.

Actually, there were about ten times that many employees. It just seems so tiny now. Now that I have a metro hospital experience in comparison.

This trip, I was headed for the caverns of anonymity. Giant caverns. Impersonal caverns. No reason to be treated special. No time for individual attention.

Once I was wheeled into Swedish Medical Center's enormous emergency BUILDING (as compared to Estes Park's emergency ROOM), I was left in a dimly lit and windowless examination room by myself for what seemed like hours. I managed to wriggle my legs free from the tape's cling, although it was still too tight for me to raise my legs. I rolled my hips slightly to the right to relieve the pressure on my lower back, left side and left shoulder. The pain of the tape ripping off the top layer or two of skin as I moved was adequately dulled by injuries sustained in the wreck.

ER staffers checked on me periodically to assure me the doctor would be in shortly, to inform me that my children were being attended to in the waiting room and to explain that there had been 17 accidents altogether down south. Someone would get to me as soon as possible, each Nurse Nightingale promised.

Read Part XI 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. Greetings from a sunny Rome! I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and I wish you a great new year!

    1. Rome?!? I am green with envy! But white with snow. Ha ha! Merry Christmas to you, too, Cat!

  2. Wow, I certainly know the feeling about sitting all alone in an empty room- the worry and wonder and wild places your mind takes you- and 5 minutes feels like days .....on an island where nobody hears your calls.

    1. I'm sure it wasn't more than an hour, but it felt very much like an eternity!

  3. Oh my, I've been alone in an ER room like that too, but with far less uncertainty. What an experience for you. I can just imagine how your back was aching, and how you just wanted a doc NOW. Since I know that you're okay, I can't wait for the next installment.

    1. Thanks, KB. You know, in re-reading this book that I wrote so many years ago, I can't help but wonder now if that's where that infamous bone chip came from. What if that's what set off the chain of events I've been through now???

  4. The only time I rode in an ambulance (after a very mild cycling accident) all I could think about was how ridiculously LOUD the siren was from inside the vehicle. Painfully loud. It must have been a long and awful ride for you. And talk about anonymity - to be told that there were sixteen other accidents! How's that for making you feel like a special and unique patient?

    Your ER experience sounds like an intense version of telephone customer service hell: "Thank you for your patience. Your injury is very important to us. Please stay on the gurney and someone will be with you shortly." And hours later you're still waiting....

    1. Sue, can you believe I don't even remember the siren from that ambulance? I do remember it from the first one. Of course, I wasn't in as much pain that time around. I couldn't say if they had the siren on for this ride or not. I don't remember at all. I just remember bein' nekked and a thousand shades of red because I was nekked in front of boys...

      That customer service hell is funny but not, if that makes sense.

  5. I'm hoping that since they made you wait the doctor's felt your injuries were non-life threatening. Being alone under these circumstances must have been very scary.

    1. It could have been much worse, CameraGirl. I was beyond scared at that point, just numb. Wondering when I'd get to go home.

  6. So who got the tickets? I guess pondering the tickets was a bit of a distraction.

    1. Uh, that's a bit embarassing. The truck driver and I both received tickets for driving too fast for conditions. I don't know how the truck driver's ticket came out. After the judge heard my story, he said I'd been punished enough. I think I wound up with $10 in court costs and a point on my license. It was very minor, considering what it could have been.


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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