Saturday, April 24, 2010

the tragedy of an amateur snowboarder, part 3

After getting me down the mountain, Hans made me walk up some stairs into the first aid trailer to fill out some forms. He asked me if I was ok to drive myself home, and of course I said yes - I'm irrational when I'm in pain. I realize now I should have called someone to come get me, but I really didn't want to bother anyone. So, after I limped back down the stairs out of the trailer, he wheeled me across the parking lot in a wheelchair to my car. At this point both feet were very swollen and red. But somehow, I managed to drive. Thankfully it hadn't snowed any that day and the road down the mountain was clear. Before heading home I stopped at the rental place to return my snowboard. I limped slowly inside, board in one hand, boots in the other. The rental guy asked me what was wrong and I told him I hurt my feet. He just laughed at me.

Finally I made it home, without killing anyone or wrecking my car. At this point I hated myself for having requested a 3rd floor apartment. But I was determined that everything would be ok if I could just get home and elevate and ice my feet, so I dragged myself up the stairs and got into bed with 2 ziplocks full of ice and lots of pillows. Then I think I started coming out of survival mode and was able to start thinking rationally. My feet were huge and red, and hurt so bad that I was shaking all over. My thoughts went something like this: "I should see a doctor. But I don't have a doctor in Reno. I probably need x-rays. Where should I go? I don't even know who takes my insurance. And it's almost 5:00. I don't want to go to the ER. What if my ankles are broken? I'm going to lose my job. I don't know what to do. I know - I'll call Mom! She'll know what to do." So I called Mom. She helped me figure out which urgent care to go to, and demanded that I give her the phone number of my Bible study leader, so she could call and get someone to come help me. Because I still wasn't going to ask for help. I'm used to helping other people, not asking anyone to help me. God had some lessons to teach me about that. I gave Mom the number and then hobbled back down the stairs, got back in my car, and drove to the urgent care. After the urgent care people watched me painfully limp through the hall, they made me step up onto a scale to get my weight. Such logic. I was in too much pain to care, but afterward that made me kind of mad. How much I weigh will make absolutely no difference in how they treat my ankles! The doctor wanted me to get x-rays, but they didn't have an x-ray machine at that location. They said I should have gone to the urgent care clinic at the bottom of Mt. Rose, because they had an x-ray machine. This would have been an excellent piece of information for Hans to have shared with me. As it was, I would have to go to the hospital down town to get x-rays.

While I was rushing to the urgent care clinic before it closed, Mom was trying to call my Bible study leader, Marshall, who is also the worship leader at the church I was going to in Reno. The phone number I gave her was for his home phone, but nobody answered, because Thursday night is band practice. So she decided to call the lead pastor, Brent Brooks. Brent and his wife had been in a Bible study with my parents in Houston 30 years ago, when Joe Wall was the pastor of Spring Branch Community Church. The number Mom had for Brent was just the church phone number, and nobody answered. So she called Scot Wall, the pastor of Magnolia Bible Church in Texas, and asked for his dad's (Joe Wall's) phone number. She called Joe, who couldn't hear her because his hearing aids weren't working or something, so she ended up talking to his wife Linda, who translated for him. They were able to give her some numbers for Brent, and she got ahold of him, who got ahold of Marshall, who called my friend Crystal.

After this comedy of errors, Crystal, the wife of the youth pastor and also a nurse, came and picked me up and drove me downtown to the hospital. While we were in the car she said, "By the way, Ruth, you're staying at our house tonight." I ended up staying with her and her husband, Robbie, for a week. When I found out my left ankle was broken in 2 places and my right ankle was sprained, the travel company had to cancel my travel contract and kicked me out of my apartment. Crystal and Robbie packed up everything in my apartment for me, drove me to and from my doctor's appointments, and let my mom and brother Jonathan stay at their house for a night after they flew in. I was going to drive my car back to Texas, but my parents were worried that it would be bad for my ankle, which swelled up and turned dark purple every time I stood up. So Mom and Jonathan flew to Reno to drive my car back to Texas, and I flew home a few days later.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

the tragedy of an amateur snowboarder, part 2

After getting settled in at my new apartment in Reno and getting the hang of things at work, I finally got around to going snowboarding. At first I had planned on buying a board to use again next year, but then decided to rent one more time to make sure I really wanted to spend the money on one. Good decision. On March 11, I bundled up, packed my gear, and drove the short distance to Mount Rose. I'd found a ski shop at the bottom of the mountain to rent a board from, since it was cheaper than renting from the resort. Also, Thursdays being "Ladies Day" at Mt. Rose, I got a discount on my lift ticket. (I'm trying to look on the bright side here - at least I didn't spend much money to break my body. Beforehand anyway.)

Most of the day was pretty uneventful. I went alone, so just listened to music on my ipod and mostly stuck to the green slopes. I did ok, but for some reason had a really hard time getting off the lift. Especially when the ski instructors asked me to ride up with the "Rosebuds" (very small children on skis). It does not do great things for your self-esteem to ride up a ski lift sitting in-between a 5 year old and a 6 year old, watch them zoom off gracefully upon reaching the top, and promptly fall flat on your face. Oh well, it probably made those kids' day. It really was a perfect day to go - sunny, clear, not too cold or windy, and the snow was great. By the end of the day I was getting bored and wanted to do a couple of longer runs before going home. So I hopped on the lift to the top of the mountain, to the blue slopes. What I didn't realize was that in addition to being a little bored, I was also very tired. And not paying much attention to what I was doing. Anyway, shortly after I started the run I was shifting from the heel edge to the toe edge of the board and lost my balance. As Jonathan later said, I apparently tend to hurt myself in the most unimpressive ways. I mean, when people ask me how I hurt my leg I say "snowboarding," and they act all impressed, like I was doing a flip off a half-pipe or something. When really, I basically just fell over while going very slowly in a straight line. Lame. All of a sudden I found myself on my face (again), with the board bending my feet up at a very sharp angle towards my shins, and excruciating pain shooting up my feet throughout my entire body. That's when I started screaming. When I'm hurt, I scream. I don't cry or cuss, I just scream. I think it freaks people out. This nice lady on skis came over after I stopped screaming and tried to help. Our conversation went something like this:

Nice Lady: "Are you ok??"

Me: "Um, I don't know yet." (breathing heavily and starting to shake)

"Is there anything I can do?"

"Oh, just give me a minute. I need to get my board off." (For some reason, I thought that if I got the board off, my feet would be ok. I got it off, and they felt worse).

"Do you think you can get back down the mountain, or should I get one of the first aid guys?"

"Just a minute. I think I can do it. I just need to rest first." (meanwhile both feet were swelling up at an astonishing rate)

"Well, I'll stay with you til you're ready and then help you get down the easiest way, ok?"

After a few minutes of sitting there trying to convince myself that I was fine and it was just a sprain, I strapped the board back on and stood up. And immediately fell over. And maybe screamed a little bit more.

"I (pant, pant) don't think I can do it."

Nice Lady then flagged down one of the first aid guys, who in my opinion had very little medical knowledge. His name was Hans, or Lars, or something, and he had a thick German accent.

Hans: "What happened?"

Me: "I hurt my ankles."

"Which one?"

"Um, I think both of them."

"So, the right ankle?"

"No, both ankles."

He asked me a few more questions, then started talking into his walkie-talkie. "I have a 24-year old female with a sprained right ankle at the top of the Northwest Magnum. I need a sled."

I really did not want to ride the sled down the mountain, but didn't exactly have a choice at this point. Another first aid guy drove up in a snowmobile carting a sled and the 2 of them got me into it and mummy-wrapped me in velcro straps. First Aid Guy # 2 started pulling me behind him on his skis, while Hans took my board down on the snowmobile, and everyone else on the mountain stared. So in addition to being in terrible pain, I was claustrophobic and self-conscious, and also a little bit in shock I think. After I got over the fact that everyone was staring at me, all I could really think was, "Get down mountain, get home, get in bed, prop up feet, then everything will be ok."

to be continued...

Monday, April 19, 2010

the tragedy of an amateur snowboarder, part 1

Well, it's been over a month since the bone-shattering event that interrupted my tidy little life plans, and I've been told that it's time to tell the tale. A certain friend has said on multiple occasions that anything is worth a good blog story. We shall see. To begin, a little background information:

When I started travel nursing back in October, the first job I got was in Colorado. I was a little nervous about spending the winter in the midst of so much snow and ice, but was excited to learn how to snowboard. During my childhood in Texas, the closest thing to snow sports I ever experienced was to "sled" down Grandma's wheelchair ramp after a night of freezing rain. My family stopped taking ski trips to Colorado when I was 2, and I always wished that I had learned how to ski. We did, however, spend almost every summer at some lake or another tubing and water skiing, so I really wasn't that deprived. When I was 16 I switched from water skiing to wakeboarding and never went back. I never was spectacular on a wakeboard, but I could do it well enough to have a good time. Since I enjoyed it so much more than water skiing, I figured I'd feel the same way about snowboarding and snow skiing. So, when I headed out to Eldora ski resort in Colorado last December, I decided to take the snowboarding class. I learned how to get down the green slopes without killing myself, and over the next 2 months went out every week or so. The first time I tried a blue slope, I sprained my wrist. That was a big red flag I should have paid more attention to. But no, I just took some ibuprofen, slapped on a wrist splint and kept trying. By the end of my Colorado assignment I could spend a day on the slopes, have a good time, and walk away without being covered in bruises. Satisfied with my first traveling experience, I got ready for my next assignment in Reno, Nevada.

to be continued...