Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Freedom Ride and Emergency Rooms

Grandma Shelby used to call me in my college dorm my freshman year and try to convince me to become a nurse like she was. It's an in-demand profession. It was practical. And there would always be a job for me. I told her I couldn't deal with the blood. She told me I'd get used to it. In the end, I majored in English and spent two years looking for a job only to wind up a secretary. Grandma Shelby was right about the job thing. But I'm pretty sure I'd never have gotten used to the blood and fluids thing. 

Why am I telling you this? I wound up in the waiting room of the local ER on the 4th of July. That's one crazy place to be on a holiday involving explosive devises. Although it's probably a pretty crazy place to spend time any day. I work in family law, so I know a little bit about a crazy work environment.

Let me explain first that I was not ever in need of medical attention. I was assisting friends who needed a ride to the hospital because all the local urgent care facilities close before 7 p.m. My role in going to the ER was minor. And I spent far less time there that day then they did. Poor girls missed dinner and fireworks. 

I told you this town as some crazy holiday traditions, right? Remember the Pet Parade? Another unique event is the annual 4th of July Freedom Ride. An unsanctioned bicycle parade through town with a few thousand participants. The estimate for 2012 was 4,000. 

Here is a short video clip I managed to snag just to give you an idea:


With a ride like that, it's a miracle the ER didn't have a line out the door. I'm not sure how many people in the waiting room were casualties of the Freedom Ride. The gal I gave a ride to was, and four hours later, she left the hospital with a broken wrist and stitches in her chin.  

There was the kid sitting in a chair by the door with his elbows on his knees holding his head in a towel. I couldn't tell what was injured. I could only assume it was another bike injury. 

A gal had her foot propped up on a chair. Possible sprained ankle?

There was an older woman with a black eye and cut above her eye brow, and bloody knee. She held an ice pack to her face and I heard her say something about vertigo. 

The man across from me had his wrist/forearm wrapped and a handkerchief around his neck that tissue kept falling out of. I eavesdropped as he told the story of being mauled be a dog to the audience of supporters gathered round him. "Next year at Crescent, we'll be sitting around and say, 'Hey remember when Jerry was mauled by a dog?'" When the triage nurse arrived to assess the situation, he explained how they were able to staunch the bleeding in his arm, but the puncture wounds in his neck kept spurting blood. 

Another young man with a possible mullet/rat-tail sat near me. Looking visibly uncomfortable and red faced. But other than rapid breathing, I couldn't see any physical injuries. 

The girls were in good hands when I finally left the hospital. But I received updates via text. Including one about a guy who lost his lunch. I was glad I'd missed that.

The Freedom Ride and it's unorganized chaos creates some conflict in this mountain town. Those who love it and those who hate it. But I suppose that's why we celebrate each and every year. Because we are free to wear nothing but underwear and roller skates and parade through town.

And in the words of my friend, Shawna (sorry for trying to give credit to Leslie), "This is what America is all about, people."   

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