It wasn’t long after I decided to lay down when Cate and Doug approached. My voice was strained and my breathing was very shallow as I told them what happened. I couldn’t seem to take a deep breath. My mind felt clear, and I knew that although I had landed on my head, it didn’t seem to be injured. There is very little that I do not remember about the accident. I do not recall taking my helmet, sunglass, and gloves off, but Cate told me they were off when she got to me.
Stephanie and Charity were the next two on the scene. Stephanie was the girl who I had just officially “met” a few minutes earlier in the parking lot. She was nothing less than incredible, and I will be eternally grateful for what she did for me this day. She knelt down beside me and with much appreciated calmness asked me what happened. She told me she was an EMT. I explained that my concerns included my neck, my upper back, and my chest. She gently, but firmly stabilized my head. I could tell that my breathing was very shallow, but I couldn’t explain why. It didn’t seem like it was due to pain, but looking back now I think I might have been in shock, and the shallow breathing was in fact due to pain. Cate held my hand. I wanted to be ok so badly that I tried to convince Cate and Steph that I could get up. I knew deep down that something was wrong, but if I could just get back on my feet maybe everything would just be ok. Stephanie, still holding my head replies “I know you are a PA, and I am only and EMT, but do you really think that is a good idea?” I knew it isn’t a good idea and I admitted defeat. I thought about work, and how much I love my job, and I was so angry at myself that I had possibly, for the second time this year, compromised my ability to work.
At some point Marshall, Greg and Alan showed up. EMS was called and Gary was called. The feeling of something being not right was steadily and increasingly replaced by pain. This was just a fun easy ride, on an easy trail…but that stupid bump. How could this have happened so quickly? I was trying so hard to will it away, but the escalating pain reached its tipping point, and I surrendered to the fact that I was indeed not ok. I even uttered the words to Greg and Cate as they were crouched down on either side of me, “I think I am very broken”. There would be no getting up and walking this one off. It was too much to deny.
Gary arrived in seemingly seconds after someone called him, and not long after that EMS arrived. I don’t know how many of them were there, but it seemed like a lot. They were extremely calm, polite, and professional, and explained what they were going to do before anything happened. They did a very comprehensive assessment before they decided what to do. My head was stabilized, and I was rolled onto my left side so I could be placed onto a backboard. The pain was excruciatingly sharp as they rolled me on to my side. I am guessing there were at least 4 EMTs there to carry me out of the woods strapped to the backboard. Sky and trees were all I could see, and I remember feeling incredibly guilty that they had to hike me out of the woods. I’m sure I sound like a broken record when I talk about how grateful I am for this and that, but these paramedics are at the top of my gratitude list. They did everything they could to make sure I was in as little pain as possible, including offering me pain medicine several times, which for some reason I refused each time. If I remember correctly, one of them was named Jonathan, and there was a guy they called Kool-aid. All I wanted was distraction. I wanted anything and everything to take my focus away from the pain and the paramedics did just that. They talked to me the entire time. The ambulance could not make it to the trail head, so there was going to be a Suburban to take me the rest of the way to the road. I was slid into the top of the Suburban with my nose inches from the ceiling. It was apparently a very tight squeeze but at that point I couldn’t have cared less how I was getting to the ambulance. If they had strapped me to a camel to get me the rest of the way I would have complied.
We made it to the ambulance and I asked to be brought to Baptist. It would be a comfort to be at my hospital. But I thought about who would be there. I wanted to see familiar faces, but I was so angry at myself for being in this position. I wondered who would read my scans, because surely I would be imaged once I got to the hospital. There were so many thoughts and emotions running around in my head. However, the pain was overriding everything. The distraction by the paramedics in the ambulance were very much appreciated. My vitals were measured, and an IV was started. I denied pain medicine. I don’t really know why other than I still had a tiny sliver of hope that I wasn’t hurt that badly and I didn’t need medication. I could tell that my breathing was very shallow, but for some reason I could not take deep breaths no matter how hard I tried, even when the paramedics were listening to breath sounds. Of course my head goes everywhere at this point…do I have a pneumothorax? Yes I can wiggle my toes, squeeze your hands, follow your fingers with my eyes. Everything seemed to be working which was mildly comforting, but I was still scared. Gary and everyone followed the ambulance and met me at the hospital. The ride seemed to go by quickly, and as we reached the hospital the ER physician met us at the doors just as the paramedics had said he would.