Staff Column: the ice storm
I didn't want to go to the store.
Like any small catastrophe that's how it all starts isn't it, by doing something you just don't want to do. It was Sunday, I was comfortable, I was still in my pajamas and I just didn't want to go to the store.
I had taken three steps off of my back porch when it happened, I felt my feet start to slide apart as they have a million times this winter, but unlike the other 999,999 times the ice just kept sliding my legs apart. By the time the split second event was over, I had done the splits and landed with all of my weight firmly planted on my right knee.
I cursed appropriately and tried to act tough in front of the wife and kid before going inside to change my pants, which were now soaked and filthy. I then went to the store, came home, put away the groceries and proceeded to take a much needed Sunday nap.
That is when things really took a turn for the worse. I woke up in excruciating pain. My wife tried to help by applying heat to my wound, but when she used a flaming hot lava pack in place of a heated rag I jerked my knee toward my chest and screamed like a little girl who just got her piggy tails ripped out by their roots. At this point I could tell something was really wrong.
I debated about going to the emergency room for a few hours and finally figured what could it hurt? Because of some changes in our life I did have insurance for the first time in quite awhile. But as Kami (my wife) and I took the drive to Price I remember all the horror stories I had heard about how bad the emergency room can be at "Casketview" as it is sometimes affectionately called in our community.
I gimped around until I was triaged, thinking I would be waiting for several hours before receiving some mediocre attention. What actually happened to me was nothing short of extraordinary.
Every bit of the staff from the triage nurse to the dreaded "it's time for a shot" nurse, to the x-ray girls to the doctor were the most professional and caring people I have ever had the pleasure of dealing with. They made me feel like I was the only patient in the hospital, talking and joking and generally making me feel at ease.
The doc and I were talking about drug seeking behavior and other ER problems as I told him I would be very interested in interviewing him and his staff. When without warning the ER stormed into high gear and I got the rare opportunity to see a real life and death situation and the men and women who are charged with doing something about it.
A middle age woman flew past the door with what looked like a 1-year-old infant and exclaimed, "he stopped breathing."
The doctor made his way with quiet and confident speed to the trauma room as the code blue siren sounded and everything stood completely quiet with nurses and doctors heading to their predetermined locations like actors taking their marks.
Time stopped or so it seemed, while everyone tentatively stuck their heads out of their rooms and waited for some signs or proof of life.
When the alarm ended the silence was thick and palpable and it seemed as though hours passed by..... and then.......the wail of an infant child shattered the silence and the dread of the world.
As I expected I never saw the doc again. An overworked nurse brought me my paperwork, gave me a lollipop and sent me on my way. And as I left limping and hating the ice I felt a deep appreciation for the staff at Castleview, the ones who had managed the the disaster stemming from Crandall Canyon with dignity and efficiency.
And the ones who saved a suffocating baby and fixed a mangled knee on Sunday night.