You can't outrun a mother's curse: Tales from the ER

You can't outrun a mother's curse: Tales from the ER

Reposted (and edited) for this inauspicious anniversary…

Tuesday’s piece, You can’t outrun a mother’s curse, you’ll only break your neck trying started with my first time on skis and ended with what could have been my last.  Here’s part II:

So there I was, barely able to move and heading home to Broomhilda, who was about to settle in for her afternoon nap.

Clearly, something was amiss.

Broomhilda drove us over to the hospital to let them have a look see.  We were only minutes away from what used to be a most superb emergency room.

We had been to this particular ER before and care was always exceptional.  We saw them do procedures there that saved patients from invasive surgery and debilitating immobilizations.

That was then.

Emergency medical treatment is now outsourced to doctors who may be encountering common ski injuries for the first time.

There was a lump on my head, which Broomhilda said was oozing (brains?).

That lump was neither treated nor noted in the ER, nor was any mention made of the fact that falling on my head may have been bad for my brain.

Probing my neck with his fingers, the doctor kept asking if this hurts or if that hurts.

At the time, it didn’t seem like any one place hurt more than any other place.

Then he asked me if I had lost consciousness.

Hmmmm.  Does one know when one’s been unconscious?  Spoiler alert:  NO!

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.

X-rays revealed my shoulder to be FUBAR and it was recommended that I contact an orthopedic surgeon.

It may be too late to make a long story short, but at that point Broomhilda called our daughter, an ER doctor in Chicago who said, LET ME TALK TO THAT DOCTOR!

Suddenly, tests were ordered.  New questions were asked.  The room filled up.

As it turned out, there was no brain bleed, but there was a bilateral fracture of my C2 vertebrae, also known as a hangman’s fracture.

In English, the second bone from the top of my neck broke in half, the front part moving forward 1/4 inch.

The fact that I was still breathing and wiggling my toes was taken as a good sign.

No surgery is risk-free, this one would have been dicey.

A smart, retired Army doctor named Ernest E. Braxton, Jr. suggested a non-surgical alternative that seems to have worked out, save for a somewhat limited range of head swiveling.

Not strictly in accordance with medical advice, I went back up the hill on March 17, 2019, after 13-1/2 weeks in a neck brace.  After all, it was St. Patrick’s Day and I look good in green.


My plan was to stay out of hospitals for a while, then have my shoulder fixed at the end of March, 2020.

Then came COVID.

In the words of Scottish poet, Robert Burns, The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men Gang aft agley

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