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Worldwide Ace » Thunder Down Under: Part II

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Thunder Down Under: Part II

30 December, 2011 (08:56) | Growing Up

Continued from Thunder Down Under: Part I

WARNING: The following is graphic, at times disturbing, and true with plenty of TMI to go around. Part I doesn’t include anything too disturbing, simply the events leading up. If you’re squeamish, easily disturbed or simply aren’t interested in the details of a serious medical fiasco, I recommend not reading beyond Part I. This entry covers the details of the past several days, starting around 2 PM Monday afternoon when I first experienced an inguinal hernia rupture while working as a ski instructor.

“I’ll get that,” I tell Avery’s dad, sliding by to open the door. He gently swings her inside and I hobble my way in behind them.

The paramedics at FAR are immediately attentive. “What’ve we got here?” one of them asks. Avery’s dad sets her down on the nearest cot while I flop down on the wooden waiting room bench beside the water cooler, my stomach still in knots.

“One of my students fell and twisted her knee at the bottom of the magic carpet,” I tell him. The dispatcher Clint calls in our arrival. I can hear the raspy echoes over the radio.

Just two days earlier I was here with another student for the same reason. An eleven year-old girl, she had bent her knee as she came down Tenderfoot and I had walked into FAR with her. They had slapped a bubble-wrap and cardboard splint around her leg while her younger sister begged if she could have one too. She left smiling and laughing, a little freaked out, with a solid prognosis and a request to have it checked out further by a real doctor. Despite my discomfort, I hoping that Avery’s leaves her with a better outlook. At the least, she’s not crying or in severe pain.

The paramedic checks her over, testing each leg in time. I’m not really paying attention, focusing instead on my own pain. Jonathan, the ski patroller from my previous visit, enters and strolls past me to check in with dispatch. “How’s it going?” he asks, turning back toward me.

“It’s going alright,” I reply, looking up. “You were here the last time I came in. I don’t know what it is about me and walk-ins with tweaked knees.” He snickers a little. “The difference is that his time, I think I might have food poisoning.”

“Food poisoning?”

“Yeah. I ate the dino nuggets in the kids’ center today. I never do that. They felt a little undercooked. Now I have severe gastrointestinal distress.”

“Hmm,” he frowns. “Do you want to check yourself in?”

“Do you think you can do anything for me?”

“I doubt it, but I can check you out. Do you want to check yourself in?”

I consider it for a moment. The last thing I want to do is create unnecessary paperwork. Last year, when I ended up in FAR with a minor thumb laceration–it was by my supervisor’s choice after she saw the blood–it took me longer to fill out paperwork than it did to get treated. If my gas passes and I’m fine, this will all be a big waste of time.

My stomach rumbles, shocks of pain arching through my abdomen. After a deep breath, I reply, “Ok. Just let me make a phone call.”

Jon passes me the phone and I dial the extension for the kids’ center. Pam’s not available, but I rattle off that I’m at FAR with a student and we’re both checking in, just in case Warren didn’t actually tell them.I set the phone back on the desk by the water cooler and grit my teeth as I rise and waddle after Jon.

He places me in the cot directly opposite Avery. Her father hovers nearby, the removed gear piled neatly on the floor. “Let’s get your boots off,” he tells me as I sidle my way onto the cot. I grimace as I bend down to unbuckle. “Whoa there. I can help you with that.”

I feel as though I should be embarrassed, but I’d rather have the help. I frown as he sets my left boot aside, the tongue clearly mangled out of shape. “Kindly fix the tongue,” I instruct, my expensive gear’s well-being a slightly higher priority than my own.

My legs swing up and I slide back in the cot. “Go ahead a lie down.”

As I lower my back, the pain increases. It’s like someone stabbing me sharply just above my right leg and twisting the knife. I stop immediately, holding my back at a forty-five degree angle. “I’d rather sit, if you don’t mind,” I say through clenched teeth.

“Ok. Give me a second to raise the back.” Jon twists the knob and bring the back up to my angle. As soon as I lean back, though, it begins to fall. “Hold on,” he tells me, “we’ll fix that.”

The other paramedic comes over and begins fiddling with the cot. “We’ve been having trouble with this one.” He keeps twisting for a minute before it finally snaps into place. “There we go.” He turns back to Avery as Jon begins to fill out the forms for my admission.

“So tell me again what happened,” Jon instructs me. I can hear Avery’s parents chatting with the paramedic, but I try to focus on Jon and his questions. “When did you start feeling pain?”

“Around 2:15. I helped a kid get up after a fall and felt a shooting pain in my abdomen.”

Every sentence brings a small shot of pain coursing through my abdomen. In skiing, we talk about how important core strength is. This year, increasing my core strength has been a focus. Jess and I have been hitting the gym two to three times a week, even after long days at work, to work on core strength. Right now, everything in my body feel so connected, and not in a good way. Waves of pain are the only way to describe it, slowly rolling outward from the epicenter near my belt.

“Did you fall today?” he asks.

“No,” I tell him, shaking my head. I only fall when doing stupid or difficult things. Like the day before, when I practiced my flatspins down a blue and spun out twice. Today, though, I had spent all my time wrangling my class through the masses and dealing with students like Nick. With a lower level class, I don’t get time to play while teaching that often.

“So you felt the pain after lifting a kid.”

“Yes, but I think it was the dino nuggets. I never eat the dino nuggets. It feels like indigestion.”

“When was the last time you ate or drank anything?”

“Around 1.” My class had come in for lunch around 12:15, but the line was out of dino nuggets, so we enjoyed an extended lunchtime waiting. I ate my two apples, as usual, had a couple of glasses of juice, and found myself still wanting. When the dino nuggets finally came out, I broke down and collected a small plate of them. We left a little after one o’clock.

He notes all of this on his forms. “Alright, I’m going to take a listen,” Jon tells me, pulling out a stethoscope. He holds it to my belly, instructing me to take deep breaths. When I’m not moving, deep breaths or not, it doesn’t feel so bad, just a dull ache in my stomach and groin, almost like a pulled muscle. “Breathe in,” he instructs for the final time. I take a deep breath, feeling my stomach rumble.

Someone once told me that a rumbling stomach means one of two things: food and whatnot moving around or your stomach shrinking. Competitive eaters often talk about eating in shifts, making sure to eat a little more each time so that their stomach expands and is ready to be challenged. This is why smaller, skinnier people such as former hot dog eating champion Kobayashi can excel at eating so much. When people do expand their stomach, it will reduce in size as it empties and relaxes. In other words, you really do have to train to expand your stomach.

“I have good news,” Jon says, breaking me from my theoretical aside. “I can hear gasses moving around, so I think you should be fine. There’s nothing impeded.” I feel relieved emotionally, but the same rumblings are sending arcs of pain shooting up my body.

When my stomach’s not rumbling, when I’m staying still, and when I’m sitting slightly upright, it’s as though I’m just fine. Every few minutes, I try to move only to find that nothing’s changed beneath the surface.

Pam, my supervisor from the kids’ center comes in to check on my student and me. I assure her it was the dino nuggets, that it’s indigestion, that the paramedics expect it to pass. She has this incredible smile through every minor crisis, and when you work with kids there are plenty of minor crises. It’s the same smile she has plastered on her face now. Her eyes, though show the weight of ordeal, the tiredness and worry. I admire her strength, her resolve, and the way in which she deals with it all. A lesser person could crumble under the pressures. “Have you filled out your IRF yet?”

“Not yet,” I say. “I came straight here with her.”

She questions me, like the others, my answers becoming stock and rote faster than I would’ve expected. She ducks into the other room and grabs a clipboard and form for me. Another instructor comes in to visit. He quietly pulls up a chair beside my bed.

“Hey Rob,” I say. “What are you doing here?”

“He’s here for moral support, right?” Pam interjects, quickly inserting words in his mouth.

“Yeah,” he agrees. “I hear you ate the dino nuggets.”

“I’m never going to live this down, am I?”

“Nope,” he replies with a smirk.

“Finish filling that out and feel better,” Pam announces as she takes her leave back to the children’s center.

“Actually,” Rob tells me quietly, Pam now gone, “I have two questions for you.”

It all comes flooding back. This morning, Rob gave me his jacket to put in the locker room. Now he’s here to find it and get it back. I quickly tell him where it is, wondering how many other minor things have slipped my mind.

“Thanks,” he tells me, clapping me on the shoulder. “Feel better.”

I turn my attention back to the form Pam gave me. I hate these forms. Half the items on there seem useless. No, I didn’t see what happened. No, the student made no comments about her injury to me. No other students were involved. Had any of those things been true, they’d have mattered, but for the second time in the last three days, that isn’t the case.

“How do you think this could’ve been prevented?” the paramedic asks Avery. I can see her eyes widen as she thinks.

“Hey Avery,” I call from across the room, setting down the paperwork. “Remember when we talked about having nice strong, straight legs when you’re doing a wedge?” She nods yes, with a slight smirk and an eye roll. “And you remember how I said you shouldn’t push your knees together or you might get hurt?” She nods again, clearly getting where I’m going. “So before you ski next time, you’ll need to get a bit stronger and keep your legs strong like a tree to hold you up. Ok?”

“That’s good advice,” her dad says with a smile.

“It’s the last little bit of difference she needs,” I tell him with a smile. I turn back to the paperwork, finishing it up and setting it aside.

Liz, from Human Resources, comes in as Avery’s parents are collecting her and making ready to go. “Ben, Ben, Ben…” she greets me, the amused and miffed tone in her voice one I know I deserve.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to create more paperwork for you.” The pain I feel is nothing compared to the amount of paperwork I’ve probably created.

“That’s ok. I hear it’s indigestion from the dino nuggets?”

“That’s the current theory. We think it’ll pass,” I tell her. “It’s certainly not going to be a workman’s comp thing.”

“Ok,” she offers with an odd combination of resignation and relief. “Feel better, Ben.”

“Thanks, Liz.” And with that, it’s just me, my pain, and the cots. It could be worse.

Continued in Thunder Down Under: Part III