Sunday, September 25, 2005

The Hospital Chronicles Part VII: Winter Fun in New England

For this episode of the hospital chronicles, we will fast forward approximately seven years, past my stint in military (which did include a few x-rays, but nothing that I would qualify as an official Hospital Chronicle) and to my first professional job in the airline industry, which happened to be in Magazine Man and Shane's home state of New Hampshire. I know MM in particular is familiar with where this occurred since I've seen it mentioned in his blog...anyway, let's get on with the story.

The winter I lived in New England (I ended up only living there about 18 months, unfortunately...it's a nice area) the airline I worked for, Business Express (a regional airline for Delta and Northwest) had deals with some of the local ski areas where we would exchange passes on us for free passes to the ski area. I had been kind of a slug over the winter, although I had been snowshoeing a couple of times, due in part to a hiking accident the previous November where I fractured one of my fingers when I slipped (since I visited a clinic for that one, it did not require a hospital visit, and is thus not recorded as an official Chronicle.) By February, I was going stir crazy, so I decided to hit the trails and go skiing.

At any rate, although I had gotten semi-okay at skiing a couple of seasons previously when I had lived for a few months in Denver during ski season, I was out of practice by the time I went to the Waterville Valley ski area. Additionally, skiing in the Eastern US is quite a bit different from skiing out West...the conditions tend to be more icy. In spite of all this, I was taking it easy, and I had only one minor wipeout until my last run of the day.

There were several things that, looking back, seem amusing about this accident...the trail I wiped out on was named "No Grit" and I had just mentioned to someone on the ski patrol that, while I hadn't skied in a while, I had avoided wiping out so far that day. This was an easy trail that went side to side across the mountain, but it was a bit narrow, and due to the aforementioned ice, I caught an edge halfway down and flew off the trail straight downhill.

I had that "slow motion" accident feeling for a couple of seconds before my progress down the mountain was stopped by a large boulder, which my right hip struck at a fair rate of speed. I wasn't knocked out, so I started yelling for help, and a passing skier helped drag me back up on the trail (I had only gone a few feet as it turned out.) When I told him I worked for an airline, he jokingly asked if I could get him any free passes. Unfortunately, I never got his name to follow up with him later, since I could have gotten him some, probably. The ski patrol showed up soon after that, ascertained I had pain in my right hip, and evacuated me downhill on a backboard. Everyone on the ski lift was staring at me, which I suppose was inevitable but still made me feel like an idiot for crashing.

Since I had driven to the ski area by myself, they had to call for an ambulance (which they probably would have done anyway, for liability reasons.) I called a friend from work, Dave, and he drove up to check on me. At the time we thought I might be able to go home directly from the hospital, but that didn't turn out to be the case. A friend of his that came up with him drove my pickup back home. I really appreciated Dave's help in my hour of need, especially since it was a good 70 or 80 miles away from the area where we lived, although I was in too much pain to show my appreciation right away.

X-rays determined I had fractured my right hip. Pending a doctor's review, they recommended I spend a day or two in the hospital for observation and to learn how to use crutches properly. That first night they gave me a prescription for a small amount of morphine through my IV, and that did help me finally get to sleep!

I had a no-nonsense physical therapist take me through a couple sessions of crutch training over the next two days, and after an orthopedic surgeon determined my hip would heal on my own, I was given a Percodan prescription, discharged, and told not to drive for at least a month. I did stay out of my car until I went back to work about two weeks later, but no harm ever came of it that I could tell.

I also stayed at Dave's apartment for a couple nights after I was discharged (he had a two-bedroom place.) Staying there was kind of driving me up the wall after a day or two (not really due to anything Dave or his wife did, I was just used to living alone) so I returned to my place fairly quickly. My mother offered to fly out and stay at my apartment for a while if I needed any help, but I declined her offer, since I was actually pretty much okay by the time I got home...the only thing I had much trouble doing during my recovery was vacuuming.

When my local doctor saw me (the same guy I'd been to for my fractured finger in November) he said, "Boy, you're having a rough winter, aren't you?" I was inclined to agree. He did say that I was lucky since the fracture was on the side of the hip, not the top, and therefore should heal without much chance of arthritis in the future. While I tended to disagree with the "lucky" part of his assessment, my hip did heal completely, and after about a month of two crutches, and two weeks with one crutch, I was walking around again.

If anyone wonders, did I learn my lesson and give up skiing? The answer to that question is no, although I haven't ever skied again enough to buy my own pair of skis or even get back to the level of semi-proficiency I had that one winter in Denver. The last time I went skiing was the winter before last, near Reno, and while I didn't dazzle anyone with my awesome talent, I did avoid any serious crashes.

I celebrated surviving that day by Lake Tahoe afterwards with my friend and skiing partner for the day, Melanie (she's a MUCH better skier than I am, incidentally) over an Irish coffee in the base lodge. I may go skiing again this winter, but if I do, it will probably someplace in the Rockies with lots of non-icy, powdery snow.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Librarian Hotties

This is one of those news stories that makes me proud to be a resident of Wisconsin. Good taste prevents me from engaging in any bookworm puns.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Another hospital interlude...

Sorry to be such a procrastinator in my hospital series. I've been out of town visiting my Mom in my hometown of Albuquerque. However, tales of hilarity, hi-jinks, and emergency room visits will resume shortly. The next episode includes an evacuation, an ambulance ride, and my longest hospital stay ever! OK, it was only two nights. Still, it will be a story worth the wait, I promise.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The Hospital Chronicles Part VI: A Flash of Stupidity

OK, I know my readership is probably going into Hospital Chronicle withdrawl...what, you're not? Damn! Got to work on making my writing more riveting! Anyway, here is the latest installment.

This was a difficult post for me to write since it involves me doing something really stupid. That's arguably the case with my last three or four hospital visits that I've chronicled here, I know, but at least I had the defense in those of saying I was only a kid when they happened. This event happened when I was 19, about six years after my Car Crash incident.

I was living away from home at college, and it was nearing the end of the fall term of my sophmore year. I was really unhappy with where I was attending and what I was studying...and feeling some pressure from a certain group of people I was taking classes with to do better. All of which may have contributed to what I did...or maybe not. At any rate, one evening a fellow student said something that really really upset me and instead of confronting him directly, I stewed over it for a few minutes and ended up punching a wall. This was definitely not a smart course of action, as I'm sure you'll all agree. I got reminded of this many, many times in the following weeks, starting at the hospital.

An x-ray determined that I had fractured the last two knuckles on my left hand. They made a half cast to immobilize the pinky and ring finger of that hand, along with my wrist. All in all, it wasn't a bad cast, and it was removable since it was just wrapped with an ace bandage, so I could take it off when I used the shower. The ER doctor, who was oriental, advised me for the future to hit immobile objects karate-chop style, since your hand can absorb more force that way. Not bad advice, I suppose. Fortunately, I did learn my lesson, and haven't been tempted to take out my frustrations on any walls since then.

One thing that got REALLY old while my hand was healing was people who would ask what I'd done to my hand. When I explained how it happened, the invariable response was, "Well, that was pretty stupid, wasn't it?" This response made me feel like doing something else stupid with my good hand, so I eventually started ignoring people who asked the question, or I'd make up some other story.

My hand ultimately healed with no complications, no surgery or other nastiness required. As an interesting side effect, the two fingers on my left hand are now slightly more flexible than on my right hand. I can easily put my ring finger over my pinky using my left hand, which I can't do with my right one. Strange.

Since I was (and still am) left-handed, and finals were coming up, I got to learn how to write balancing my half-cast on a piece of paper. I didn't do extremely well in the finals, but considering my general dissatisfaction with that university and my program of study, it's probably understandable. I ultimately decided to leave college and enlist in the Air Force, but I did get my degree eventually, from a different university.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Tagged!

One of my favorite bloggers, Magazine Man, has "tagged" me in a...what are they called, anyway, a meme? At any rate, since his encouragement is one of the main reasons I started actively blogging, I'll give it a shot...

10 years ago: I am working at my first airline job in the home state of both Magazine Man and Shane, and while I really like the area, I will be moving onto my second airline job in about 6 months due to pay issues and a desire to be closer to home (I grew up in Albuquerque, NM, and New Hampshire is a LONG ways away.) As one of my friends said, referring to the avaition industry, "We're all gypsies, in a way..." and that's kind of true. But I did like New Hampshire, since it's where I had my first apartment on my own and was really "living independently" other than my time in the Air Force a few years before that.

5 years ago: The year is 2000, and the world has survived Y2K without major incident. I have recently purchased my first (and only) house, and just had the back yard landscaped. Unfortunately, 9/11, along with some serious mismanagement, will make my old airline one of the business victims of 9/11 a little over two years from now. Aviation, gotta love it. On the positive side, due to the hot Vegas real estate market, I end up making out ok on my house when I finally sell it a little over a year later. My realtor did a top-notch job selling my place while I was living in Wisconsin, so he gets a free link and recommendation from me.

1 year ago: Not a whole lot has changed in the past year, although I have moved to a different apartment. I am still living in Wisconsin and working at the same job I had 12 months ago. A fair amount has happened in my personal life over the last year (my father passed away, and my mother may be selling the house where I grew up soon) but I think those issues are better addressed in a separate blog entry somewhere down the road.

Yesterday: On the 4-year anniversary of 9/11, I spent the day working an overtime shift at my new airline after being rudely awakened by my next-door neighbor. It was a fairly uneventful day, which in the aviation industry is almost always a good thing, even if it's not exciting.

OK, I know I'm breaking the tag rules here, but I don't really feel like finishing the rest of the questions or tagging anyone else, so there you have it.

(If you want to try this yourself, the remaining questions are: 5 songs you know all the words to, 5 favorite snacks, 5 things you'd do with $100 million, 5 places you'd run away to, 5 things you'd never wear, 5 favorite TV shows, 5 greatest joys, 5 favorite toys, and 5 people you're tagging.)

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Grrrrr.....

I'm sound asleep at around 2 AM when my doorbell rings. At first I was like, wtf? I figured whoever was ringing my doorbell had the wrong door and turned back over...then I hear KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK and the doorbell rings again. So I get up, get my bathrobe on, go downstairs, and look through my peephole...it's my next door neighbor. I opened the door.

She's in a pissed off mood and says, "Am I making a lot of noise or something?" and I told her, truthfully, that I'd been asleep and hadn't heard her at all. Evidently someone had been pounding on her door...why she assumed it was ME, I have no idea. She apologized for waking me up...of course, now I'm wide awake and I have to be at work in less than four hours. Like this post's title says, GRRR.........

Saturday, September 10, 2005

My Cyborg Name




Couldn't resist posting this one even if it is a bit cheesy-looking. I doubt I'll be buying the t-shirt, though.

Friday, September 09, 2005

New Look

Still experimenting so I thought I'd try using a background image. Thoughts, anyone? If you like it, or can't stand it, or are neutral on the issue, please let me know. Sorry that I have word verication turned on for commenting but I was getting lots of spam without it. Hospital Chronicles will resume shortly...

The Hospital Chronicles Part V: Car Crash

After returning home to Albuquerque and getting my stitches out, I had a fairly uneventful rest of the summer. Then school started...the eighth grade, in my case.

I lived a fair distance from my middle school. It wasn't really too far to walk, but there was a busy intersection that had to be traversed on the way to and from school. When my sisters had attended school there, it was considered far enough away to warrant bus service. However, by the time I started, it wasn't.

This wasn't entirely a bad thing. There were several shops and grocery stores as well as a McDonald's along the route, so it made it convenient to grab a soda or snack on the way home. And I honestly did need the exercise, since I never was much into sports, growing up. All this being said, it still wasn't the safest way to travel...

Now, when I said that there was a busy intersection that had to be traversed, you would think I meant that it had to be traversed at the intersection, using the crosswalk. This, of course, would be a logical conclusion to draw, since that would be the safest way to cross the street.

As a kid, though, I was usually interested in the fastest, most convenient way to cross the street, not the safest. So, instead of crossing at the light, I would usually cut across the Alpha Beta parking lot and then jaywalk about a block up from where the light was. Unfortunately, on one early September afternoon, I didn't make it all the way across...

I suppose you could say I had been practicing over the summer for the main event in the fall. This particular day, there was a lot of traffic, and I grew impatient waiting to jaywalk, so I did something extremely stupid and ran between cars that were waiting for the red light to change to try and get to the median. Unfortunately, in the lane closest to the median, there was a Volkswagen approaching the light which I hadn't spotted that had NOT slowed down yet, since the lane he was in was not backed up as far as the middle lane.

Everything seemed to go into slow motion, which I have heard is common during accidents, and I was struck by the approaching car (BAM!) and landed on the median. In spite of my incredibly foolish jaywalking maneuver, I was lucky in two respects...the car that hit me was a Volkswagen Beetle (old style...this happened in 1981, remember) and the driver had been slowing down in preparation to stop, so he was only going about 20 mph when I was hit...the speed limit in that area was, and still is, 40 mph. Those factors almost certainly saved me from serious injury. I never lost consciousness after being hit.

The driver was really freaked out but seemed to be a nice enough guy who didn't yell at me for doing something stupid. He asked me what the date was, and I looked at my digital watch to determine that (a Casio, I think, and all the rage in my middle school) and told him, which he smiled at. The ambulance showed up shortly thereafter, along with my mother, who had somehow heard about me getting hurt on my way home from school. She later told me she was mighty panicked until she saw me talking to the driver while laying on the median, and then she figured I was probably okay.

After getting jabbed with an IV line and taking an uncomfortable ambulance ride strapped to a back board, I made it to the hospital. I had a much shorter wait to see the doctor than on either of my previous two middle school hospital experiences. I remember having fun giving a urine sample while still lying on the backboard in the emergency room. Based on the results of that sample, they decided to run another test on my kidneys.

I then got injected with some kind of dye via my IV that made my mouth taste all salty so they could scan my insides with an x-ray machine. It might have been a different type of diagnostic machine...I'm a little fuzzy on the details...but that test came back normal, and after x-raying me some more they determined that aside from a minor fracture in my right fibula (the small bone in your shin) I was fine, and didn't even need a cast. I did have lots and lots of bruises, though.

The doctor would normally have kept me overnight there, but he let me go home with my parents after securing a promise from my mother to check on my every two hours. I had trouble falling asleep but I think I eventually achieved slumber sometime after midnight. I was sore and walked with a limp for about a month, but I was able to return to school the following Monday (I can't remember for sure, but I think this happened on a Thursday or Friday afternoon.)

Evidently the principal at my middle school made an announcement about how important it was to use the crosswalk, using my accident as the reason why, and everybody quickly figured out which student was being referred to. Some kids started calling me as "Mr. Accident" but the novelty of that went away after a couple of weeks. Based on my previous experiences, it wasn't a completely inaccurate title, I have to admit. However, this would be the last time I went to the hospital until after high school, which I'm sure would have relieved my parents and their insurance company had they known it at the time.

As a side note, shortly after I finished middle school, the school district messed with their boundaries, and my parents' neighborhood switched to a different middle school, farther away. Kids once again got bus service to and from middle school, which continues to this day.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

The Hospital Chronicles Part IV: Go-Cart Crash

This happened on vacation the summer following my golf club incident. I managed to avoid facial injury this time around.

I was on vacation in Ruidoso, New Mexico with my parents and my cousin and had gone go-carting one afternoon. This go-cart track had a tricky section with a sharp curve and my go-cart wasn't easy to steer. At any rate, after barely negotiating the curve for a couple of laps, I finally managed to plow into the wall. I wasn't hurt too badly but I somehow got a big gash on the back of my left leg.

We didn't go to the hospital right away, but once I told my father that the bleeding wasn't stopping after we got back to our timeshare condo, he decided it would be best to take a trip to the emergency room. Once again, since I had a non-life threatening condition, I got to wait 2-3 hours before the doctor saw us. I ended up getting about 10 stitches to sew up the cut.

As with my previous trip to the emergency room, the stitches turned what would have been a big scar into a much smaller one. I imagine go-carts in use today are quite a bit safer than the one I was driving...which if I recall correctly didn't have a seat belt or anything else keeping me strapped in.

However, this was not to be my final trip to the hospital in middle school. For that one, you'll have to tune in next time...

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Katrina

What would happen if you had an evacuation and nobody wanted to go with you?

I think they needed to offer some free beer and Packers tickets...

On a more serious note, please do visit the Red Cross web site and make a donation to the relief efforts if you can afford to.

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

The Hospital Chronicles Part III: Driving Range Adventure

I've never been that interested in golf. However, my father was an avid golf fan, and before I was born, a regular player. He had stopped playing when I was very young due to back problems, but he did make a couple of attempts over the years to start golfing again, once when I was in middle school. One day when I was about 11, he took me and my friend Kurt to the driving range.

At one point while Dad was swinging his club I walked too close behind him and BAM! My left cheek met his backswing. He was using an iron at that point and it left a fairly good gash in my cheek...since it was a head wound, it bled like crazy. He took me to the emergency room right away where, since it wasn't a critical wound, I got to wait for about two hours before I saw a doctor. Kurt ended up hanging out in the waiting room the whole time, but he was a good friend and never complained about that later.

The doctor I ultimately saw turned out to be very good at doing stitches, for which I am thankful. What could have been a large scar on my cheek is barely noticeable today. He only used a few stitches but my regular doctor said it looked like work a plastic surgeon would have done when I got the stitches out.

I didn't always get along well with my father, growing up, but I do have to give him credit in this case...he didn't panic, or yell at me about how stupid I'd been for walking up behind him when he was swinging a golf club. I suppose he figured I'd learned my lesson well enough already...and while I haven't been on driving ranges much since then, I did learn to be more careful when I visit them.

Monday, September 05, 2005

A brief interlude from the hospital

You Passed the US Citizenship Test

Congratulations - you got 10 out of 10 correct!


Just trying out new things in my blog. I'm a complete HTML know-nothing at this point, so it's fun to experiment a bit with new things...plus, I like to brag when I get a perfect score on something. Hospital chronicles will resume tomorrow.

The Hospital Chronicles Part II: Horse Sense

My very fist memories are from this event. I was approximately two and a half when it happened.

Me, my mother and one of my sisters were visiting relatives in rural New Mexico. They had some horses. I managed to sneak out a back exit of their trailer that my mother didn't even know existed and wander up behind them.

I remember saying something like, "Hey horsie" and then extreme PAIN. After that, I remember standing up in the car on the way to the emergency room, and seeing people in the emergency room, and getting my x-ray taken, and the surgery where they did the stitches, but it's all in flashes over several days.

My mother thought the scar would be a lot worse than it turned out to be after it healed. I'm attaching a low-rez pic I just took of the scar while playing with my webcam to this post. (I need very little excuse to play with the gadgets connected to my computer.) You can see from the pic that there is a scar, but it's not really noticeable.



Evidently, my father wanted to know WHICH horse kicked me, so he could shoot it. I told him that the blue horsie kicked me. I don't remember that part but it's been told to me many times.

Actually, I'm not mad at the horse...I obviously just startled him and he kind of kicked back reflexively. If it had been a deliberate kick, I probably would have been killed. Just remember, those of you with toddlers...if you turn their back on them, make sure all the exits are locked.

Sunday, September 04, 2005

The Hospital Chronicles Part I: Birth

This was my first time in a hospital. Obviously, I don't remember a thing about it. From what my parents told me, Mom went into labor in the afternoon and I was born at about 8 PM on October 21, 1968. There were no complications with the delivery.

One anecdote from immediately after I came into this world...this was in the era before fathers were allowed into the delivery room. The doctor told my father it was a boy, and then the nurse came out holding me saying, "AND HERE HE IS!"....but they hadn't washed me off yet, so I was hardly the image of newborn cuteness at that point.

One other detail I've heard from the time when I was born...I have a half sister whose birthday is three days later than mine, on the 24th. My mother insisted on going home on the 24th from the hospital so she could attend my sister's ninth birthday party, even though her doctor wanted to keep her another day. Contrast that to today's medical care in which Congress had to get involved to make insurance companies pay for a 48 hour stay after childbirth.

Saturday, September 03, 2005

This is what a bacosaurus is.

OK, I was going to include a pic on this one, but until I get permission, I'm going to just provide a link instead. A "bacosaurus" is a nickname for a particular type of airplane that I work with. It's a highly informal nickname, so I doubt anyone knows which plane I'm talking about, but I always thought it was a cool word.

The aircraft in question is no longer in production and the average age of our fleet is about 20 years old. It's a rather maintenance-intensive bird, but it does get into places that other passenger jets cannot due to it's design.

For my next series of posts, I am going to take some inspiration from Magazine Man and chronicle all of my hospital visits from birth up until the present. Other than birth, I remember all of them, including my visit at age two and a half.

I think the hardest parts of maintaining a blog are (1) regularly updating it and (2) thinking nobody is reading it. In my case, I know I have at least one reader, which helps inspire me with issue (1).

Thursday, September 01, 2005

This is my first active post.

Greetings, visitors from the Masthead. Per MM's suggestion, I've decided to try and begin active blogging. As you can probably tell from the primitive layout, this is my first blogging attempt, and posting may be sporadic for a bit until I get used to what I'm doing...but we'll see how it goes. In my next post I will attempt to explain what the hell a "bacosaurus" is.