Yesterday’s piece, “You can’t outrun a mother’s curse, you’ll only break your neck if you try” started with my first experience on skis and ended with my last (so far).
I’ll be back on the snow, but medical advice is saying later rather than sooner.
So there I was, barely able to move and heading home to Broomhilda, who was about to settle in for her afternoon nap.
Feeling that something was terribly amiss, we decided to head over to the emergency room and let them sort it out. We were only minutes away from what used to be one of the most incredible ERs imaginable.
We had been to this particular emergency room many times (never for me) and the care was extraordinary. We had seen procedures performed there that eliminated the necessity for invasive surgery and long periods of recovery.
They were top notch.
Now, emergency medical treatment is outsourced to a group of emergency room doctors who may be encountering common ski hill injuries for the very first time.
There was a good sized lump on my head, which I didn’t notice, but Broomhilda did and she noted that it was oozing (possibly brains).
That lump was neither treated nor mentioned in the ER, nor was any mention made of the fact that there might be some underlying damage based on a big galoot like me falling on his head.
The ER doc touched my neck in several places, asking, “Does that hurt?”
Broomhilda said that I was denying pain, but it didn’t seem to hurt any more in one place than it did in any other.
The doctor asked me if I had lost consciousness.
Spoiler alert: Unless someone you’re with observes you in a state of unconsciousness, you may not realize that you were, in fact unconscious.
It took about 48 hours for me to piece together enough facts to realize that I’m missing about 12-15 minutes of my life.
They managed to Xray my shoulder and determine that it was FUBAR and recommended an orthopedic surgeon.
It may be too late to make a long story short, but at that point Broomhilda called our daughter, Doc Holiday, filled her in on the events of the day and handed the phone to the ER doc.
Suddenly, more tests were ordered.
As it turned out, there was no brain bleed, but there was a bilateral fracture of the C2 vertebrae, also known as a hangman’s fracture. The fact that I was able to wiggle my toes offered encouragement as to the prognosis.
As I write this, I am almost 12 weeks out from that injury and ready to toss the neck brace that I have been wearing, lo these many weeks.
While surgery was an option, it came with a list of risks like the side effects of every pill advertised on TV. Thank you, but no oily anal discharge for me.
Shout out here to neurosurgeon Ernest E. Braxton, Jr. MD. Thank you for your service and your excellent medical guidance.
Once the physical therapy part of the neck recovery is done, I get to have my shoulder fixed and start the process all over again.
If you’re up there, mom, ya finally got me.
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