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A True Tale Of Easter In The Er

Posted by Avishay04, 02 April 2012 · 721 views

On the day before Easter, 2008, I headed down to the barn. It was a warm and bright Southern California spring afternoon, and I was looking forward to putting the 11th ride on my rising 4 y/o gelding, Avishay. He was one of the easiest horses I'd ever started, partly because of his sweet nature, and partly because I'd had him since he was only 4 months old, and I'd been able to take my time with his early training and ground work.

Everything was going well, until about 15 minutes into the ride, two ground squirrels rolled into the arena, engaged in an epic squirrelly battle to the death. Blinded to the outside world by the ferocity of their fight, the squirrels tumbled, screeching and scratching into Shay's legs. Terrified, Shay launched forward and bucked like a rodeo bronc the 120 feet to the opposite end of the arena, with me just doing my best to stay on. By the time the bucking stopped I was able to execute a one-rein stop. Unfortunately, when I did so, I didn't realize that I'd torn my right groin muscle during the bucking, and turned him to the left, I simply didn't have enough grip in my right leg to stay on through the initial quick turn into the stop. I flew off, skidding through the dirt like a skipped stone skids along a lake surface.

It took me several long moments to sort myself out, and by the time I made it into a sitting position, my barn owner had come running over to check on me. I made it to my feet, and took off my helmet - it was trashed, and it looked like someone had taken a cheese grater to my forearm. My lower right back and right groin were all one big throbbing pain. But I brushed myself off, put my ruined helmet back on my head, and begged my barn owner to help me remount and lead me around a bit so that I wouldn't loose my nerve. He was against it, but finally relented, and I climbed awkwardly back on from the fence (there was no way I could make it from the mounting block) and walked around for about five minutes before my body was just screaming for me to get off. By that time a few other people had come over to see what had happened, and I waived off a few offers to drive me home or drive me to the hospital. My barn owner offered to put Shay away for me, and I somehow managed to drive home.

My barn owner had called ahead to my house, letting my mom know what had happened. She tried several times to convince me to go to the ER, but as anyone who has ever had a head injury can attest - you become unreasonably stubborn, and I kept refusing, insisting that with some painkillers and a few days' rest, I'd be fine. But after a very uncomfortable night, I woke up bright and early that Easter Morning, not for church, but for a trip to the ER.

The staff at a hospital on a major holiday is decidedly the "B-Team". I arrived around 8 AM, hobbled up to the counter, and handed over my insurance information, before limping my way over to the nearest chair. My mom hovered at my elbow, waiting for me to fall over so she could catch me (and probably squish her, seeing as she's a good 8" shorter than I am)As soon as I levered my aching body into the chair, the lady at the counter called my name. Thinking that it was going to be the shortest wait in my inglorious history of ER visits, I promptly began the struggle back to my feet. Back at the counter, the lady looked at my 23 year old self and asked, "Our database says that the only person with your name is 84. There must be some mistake. Have you ever been treated here before?" When I answered in the negative, the petite gal in scrubs on the other side of the counter giggled, "Good, 'cause you sure don't look like an octogenarian!" as she ran though my information, adding me to the system while my mom filled out paperwork (my writing hand was too swollen for my already horrible handwriting to be even remotely legible, even to people used to reading doctor's notes). Then the receptionist said that I only had a few people ahead of me, and that the wait should only be about 30 min long. Relieved, I went back to my seat and watched Goonies on the TV - a favorite movie of mine, which I remember finding oddly comforting at the time.

By the time my dad had found a parking spot he liked and joined us in the lobby, I couldn't take it anymore. "Please," I told him, "Find someone to give me some drugs." He tried, but was unsuccessful, "They want to see you first," he informed me.

Nearly 45 min later I was ushered into a small room with a jaded nurse. She asked me for all the same information that the receptionist had already been given, took my blood pressure, and directed me to walk down the Hallway Of Pain™. This was, at least as I remember it (you'll recall I had a head injury) - the single longest hallway in America. Using the wall for support, I shuffled and moaned down the HOP like a zombie from Shawn of the Dead, comical in my brightly patterned pajamas. My mom asked me if I wanted a wheel chair - hoping I'd say yes and give her the opportunity to inflict payback on me for the time she sprained her ankle and wasn't coordinated enough to manage crutches (My dad and I pushed her, popped wheelies, spun her, and generally did our best to make her motion sick). Of course I declined her generous offer. Still determined to get retribution, my mom walked after me, practically singing, "C'mon! Hop, skip, jump! Dance! You can make it!"

Once in the room, I was told the doctor would be in to see me soon, but first they would have to determine where I was hurt, and to what extent, and take some x-rays. A rather rotund nurse came in shortly after, and when she looked on her clipboard and saw that my accident was horse related, she proceeded to tell me stories about the devil pony she'd had as a child. When she showed me the "pain scale" I quickly pointed to the one right before "DEAD". "Please ma'm," I said, feeling like Oliver Twist, "Can I have some pain meds?"

She nodded and bobbed out of the room, never to return. On her heels came the doctor. He looked me over while I showed him where I was hurt and described the extent of my injuries. When I asked the doctor for pain meds, he only smiled and said, "I need x-rays first." It was then that I decided that this particular hospital was filled with people who seemed to enjoy watching me suffer. I whimpered, and at the evil doctor's prompting, I began the epic trek back down the Hallway of Pain, while my mom wandered off to get a cup of coffee.

Once there, I was greeted by rather plucky guy who looked like a Korean Harry Potter (seriously, he had the exact same hairstyle as Daniel Radcliff did in the movies, and I kept wondering if it was intentionally so). He helped me get on the table, which was ice cold and strongly resembled a morgue slab, and gently tortured me into several excruciating positions as he darted back and forth to the control room, taking at least a dozen x-rays. I've absorbed enough radiation over the years that I'm fairly certain I'm now sterile. That wouldn't have been much in the way of a noteworthy event if it weren't for the fact that Harry, er, the tech, flirted with me the entire time. I tried to be nice and flirt back, but it's very difficult to come up with witty things to say to a guy when you're doubled over in pain and lying in your pajamas on a steel table. Once I was released from the x-ray morgue and the flirty tech, I began my third trip down the H.O.P. to the room I'd been assigned.

By the time I'd arrived, my mom was sipping coffee and talking to a robust, dark skinned man in a suit. He immediately began attacking me with questions - the same questions I'd already answered multiple times already. "I'm not lying!" I bust out. "The answers haven't changed. And doesn't anyone in this hospital TALK to each other? And why won't anyone give me some freaking pain meds?!" I was still standing, because it was too daunting to try and climb back up onto the table.

The suited man smiled, "I'm sorry, this should be the last time. Your doctor is already looking at your x-rays. I'm just here to deal with your insurance. I'm sure they'll give you something for the pain soon."

I felt like strangling someone. Fighting my urge to commit homicide (I'd only fall over trying and end up on a 72 hour hold in the psych ward, anyway), I finished this latest interview, and the suit left. After a few minutes the doctor came in - it was beginning to look like a soap opera set with all of the people coming and going. I think I may have said as much at the time. The doctor informed me that luckily, nothing was broken, and then proceeded to poke, prod, and pull on me, stoutly ignoring my less than ladylike language. I had some good sided lacerations that thankfully didn't require stitches, some nerve damage to my back (which, unfortunately ended up being permanent), a torn right groin muscle (I still can't canter without stirrups because of that one), and a mild concussion (my 7th - don't worry, only 3 of them were horse related, and I was wearing a helmet for two of them).

"Great," I said. "Now how about something stronger than the couple of Advil I took at 6 AM? Or some kind of treatment in general?"

"I can write you a prescription for some Vicodin," devil doctor said. "But we can't fill it here. You'll need to go to CVS or Wallgreens or wherever you usually fill your prescriptions."

If I could have found the strength, I would have pummeled him, the good for nothing *******. My mom thanked him and he made some stupid comment about how it was his pleasure, and I began retracing my steps down the Hallway of Pain once more. As I dragged my living-dead carcass down the corridor, my mom once again asked me if I wanted a wheelchair. Irritated, hurting, and cussing under my breath, I glared daggers at her and simply limped onward. My dearest mother only chirped up, "You know, the only reason I'm torturing you is because you made me spend my Easter holiday in the emergency room, you're more stubborn than that spotted mule you trained, and you're ego is too big to accept help. So go ahead, run! Frolic! Gambol like the nimble nymph you are!" I nearly sighed in defeat, but by that time I was nearly at the door. My dad saw me coming and went to get the car, while I navigated the stairs down to the loading zone. I could have taken the ramp, but it was twice the distance.

With a lot of swearing and moaning like I'd been stabbed (which it felt like I had), I managed to pull myself into the car and handed my dad my prescription. "Drugs. Now," I demanded, reduced to monosyllabic speech. "You got it, kitten. And then, we need milkshakes!" my dad declared. "Milkshakes will make you feel better. Like a spoon full of sugar to help the medicine go down!"

Exhausted, I could only nod.

And that's the true tale of my Easter in the ER. A story of a girl, her horse, and the sadistic staff of a major hospital on a holiday weekend. But as I look out the window at my lovely Shay, and think back on the great rides he's given me over the years (including the one I just enjoyed before coming in to edit this post) I realize....there's no way in hades that I'm getting on him the day before Easter!

You went about it all wrong! You're supposed to have mom go in ahead of you to ASK for a wheelchair for the patient who can't walk. When wheeled in, you moan and probably act about to vomit everywhere from the pain. When they're not paying enough attention to you, you ask them where the nearest toilet is to actually vomit. Don't act the hero who can make it on her own! If anything over-exaggerate for fastest treatment time and drugs :winking: Only half kidding.

Anyhow, after our short chat I looked you up for pictures of your BelgianX (none?!) and noticed he's a PMU baby. That's what my PercheronX was(is?)! Where did you get him from? I think my girl probably is a year older than yours, but we picked her up in California after she got a ride south with a batch of PMU FoalQuest babies. Did you post about him back when you got him? I always tried to keep an eye out for the other PMU foals.
Anyhow, just thought I'd post here and say hi again. ttyl :happy0203:
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Haha, thanks for the advice. I'm always one to keep a stiff upper lip - I'm no good at playing it up.

My PMU came from BC, Canada to Tehachapi, California via the United Pegasus Foundation. I wasn't an active member here when I got him, so there aren't any posts archived about him here.
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