Woman + Dog + Leash + Chipmunk =
May 13, 2022
On our annual (that hasn't happened for two years) trip down to Yachats, Mom and I got to the treasured cabin respite for a couple nights of timeout. After we settled in, I took Meeko out for a little hike in the beautiful forest behind, and was delighted to find the southbound portion of trail connection had been completed. It's gorgeous in there, and the (Forest Service, I presume) has done a fabulous job of building the perfect forest path that looks like it's been there forever, with stairs where needed and easy crossings at the small creeks.
We were both thoroughly blissed out, Meeko behaving reasonably well, in spite of the out-of-pattern of Leash In Forest. Me in full exhale-trees-loam-adore.
About a mile into the hike, we were just starting a steepish downhill after a moderate uphill, when...
... a chipmunk which had been lurking out of sight, waiting for just the perfect opportunity to disrupt a day, went scurrying across the trail at the bottom of the slope.
And Meeko was off like a bullet.
Idiot human held onto the leash, pulled into a clumsy run by 85 pounds of focused dog with a two second internal thought process that went approximately like, "dogs have to be leashed. strictly enforced"... I can get my feet under me any minute now and get him stopped... LET GO OF THE LEASH!.
It was a thought process, but an extraordinarily faulty one that should have begun with, "Just let go of the leash, Loree".
I stayed uprightish for two long strides, was about to fall for the next two, and then Meeko veered to the right just as I let go of the leash and my momentum backlashed into a full speed backward fall over a handy log parallel to the trail.
It was a very hard fall on a downhill slope, with head and shoulders hitting together hard, flat, and first, on the loam between two trees, knees left nicely arranged symmetrically over the top of the log above.
When I hit, I heard four distinct cracks in my neck, and lay still hollering for Meeko (as much because I needed him by me as to get him to come back).
Meeko came back quickly, and stood by me while I lay still where I had landed until the initial shock passed enough for me to assess whether those cracks in my neck meant anything that made it undeniably stupid to try to move.
Hands move? check. Toes move? check. Arms move? check. Back feels intact? check. Neck moves? check. I stayed down for - who knows, five to ten?- minutes until I was fairly certain that I could move without any damage being permanently exacerbated (while also understanding that my judgement was likely worthless at the moment), then started maneuvering knees off the log to get them under me. It took awhile, because I was in tight between two trees, without much room to maneuver, and with a dog on the the other end of a string using up one hand.
Finally got to upright, did a little more cautious testing, found everything needed to get out of the woods in working order (adrenaline and shock hyperventilation is apparently a magnificent drug when action is needed), and we hiked out of the forest and back to the cabin, with only a couple slow-the-heck-down corrections needed for the dog.
Startled Mom a bit when I walked in covered in dirt and twigs and unable to normalize my breathing or attain anything that resembled detailed communication, but after several minutes of pacing around and moving joints I still checked out okay (beyond feeling like I'd been body-slammed by a bulldozer), so we decided to drive down to the grocery store for food and cell signal.
While Mom was hunting and gathering in the grocery store, I called Kaiser advice system. After a full phone triage, the nurse came back from speaking with the ER doc, and insisted that I surrender my keys, stay where I was, not move my neck, and wait. I started protesting about dog and van and mother and she (very kindly and gently, thank you, Karen), told me she knew I wasn't stupid as I had called them for (the) advice (I was resisting), and that she was confident I would wait where I was and at least get a collar on.
Yachats Fire arrived without lights and sirens, as I had requested, and I got out of the van (yes, holding my neck still) to try and minimize Meeko's "protection" of the occupants of the van body slams against the glass. Got me into the ambulance, the neck brace on, and we collectively worked out that Mom would learn to drive the van in five minutes, and then follow the ambulance back to the cabin where she and Meeko could tuck in and wait, before we got on 101 to head to Newport ER.
Huge kudos to Yachats Fire. Mo and Max and (I'm sorry dear driver, I lost your name), went way above and beyond in coming up with a plan that worked for all three of us, that entirely mitigated my forefront worry about hopping in an ambulance and leaving my loves stranded without a clear path to a calm spot. It is greatly appreciated.
They took great care of me on the way to the Newport hospital, and are clearly good at what they do, with an extra dose of humanity and humor.
[Sidebar: do you think great-looking is a baseline job requirement for fire fighters? I've yet to see one that wasn't ;)).]
CT Cranial and Cervical scans came back clear, and two hours later a cab dropped me off back at the cabin with meds and take-it-easy instructions.
Other Gratefuls: HUGE gratitude that the impact didn't break my neck as the cracking sounds indicated. | Gratitude for deep forest loam cushioning a very hard impact. | Gratitude for Meeko coming back to me quickly. | Gratitude for Mom being there waiting for me so I wasn't doing this alone (and driving us home Wednesday). | Gratitude for being home.
MRI has been ordered for my right shoulder/arm, which has about 40% the range of motion and strength of the left arm. Waiting on a callback to schedule.
A week's worth of muscle relaxers and pain meds in hand.
Right leg is holding better (was buckling under me every few steps - now holds 90% if I'm slow and paying attention).
Neck and shoulders are still locked up and painful, but the meds are easing that to manageable.
I'm sleeping a lot :).
And a closing grin:
So hopefully any of you looking at my illustrations will now believe me the next time I say, "I follow my hand. I can't even draw a decent stick figure on purpose". :)
My printing is usually better, but my right hand is a bit wonky right now.
Here. Have a forest.