Blood sport

After years of political head-butting and congressional drama to rival the best soap opera, it appears that Americans finally have some semblance of health-care reform. While I can’t begin to profess to know the intricacies involved, I figure that having to never hear the words “health-care reform debate” or that nonsense about death panels ever again is rewarding enough. But, on a more serious note, helping those who are seriously ill and/or underinsured from getting jacked around by The Man can only be a good thing. And as someone who’s made a very expensive trip or two to the E.R. (once via ambulance), could take a Hawaiian vacation every month on what she spends on family insurance premiums, and once paid $35 for aspirin during a hospital stay, it’s safe to say things are amiss.

Furthermore, as a mother of two active children, I know there are likely to be more trips to the E.R. in my future. And who knows, maybe the kids will need some emergency medical attention some day, too.

I guess you could say, in addition to inheriting a propensity for bad jokes and mild OCD, I also inherited two left feet and 10 thumbs. Call it the Gerald Ford syndrome, but I credit it to another man from that era: my maternal grandfather. In addition to more bumbles and falls than a SNL skit, he also had some not-so funny incidents involving arteries and moving lawn-mower parts. Happy to say, he managed, miraculously, to live to a very ripe old age, but not before passing on the gravity-disorder gene to his offspring and his offspring’s offspring.

As a child I was forced to witness my mother’s death-defying heroics while trying to escape the evil throes of a bunny hill tow rope as well as a harrowing slow-speed wipeout on our suburban drive-way at the mercy of her Free Spirit three-speed. Needless to say, such images stick in a young, impressionable mind.

Nevertheless, I have spent a good part of my adulthood trying to combat clumsy acrobatics, late-night run-ins with invisible doors and unplanned, violent collisions with the ground. But balancing this with a healthy enjoyment of life, not to mention being called a weenie by your own flesh and blood, is a fine line.

So, occasionally I do find myself in situations where self preservation takes a back seat to wanting to show the little twerps that mom is good for more than lugging groceries and tying shoes. Like the other day when I nominated myself to be the crash test dummy for what seemed like an otherwise fine tubing run on a backcountry adventure. The kids had already scouted the course, which as of 11:30 a.m. was still in the frozen broken-glass stage of the freeze-thaw cycle. Poo-pooing their warnings about the steep drop-off just beyond the rise, I set out on what would soon become an inflatable death missile.

Things started out innocently enough until I began picking up some serious speed. By the time I saw the culvert, it was too late. Hurtling toward a certain crash landing at warp speed, I was forced to pull the “oh shit” handle. From here, things are a little fuzzy. In a rookie tubing move, I stuck my foot out in front of me thinking it would act as a brake. Naturally, it back-fired horribly, serving instead as a human pole vault, cart-wheeling me through the air, and sending me skidding downhill, on my face, across the equivalent of 200-grit sandpaper.

Judging by the fits of laughter from above, I got high marks from the peanut gallery. As I wriggled limbs and blinked eyes to make sure no bones were broken, I tasted the familiar and unmistakable putrid sweetness of my own blood.

I tried to break through the fog of a mild concussion to gauge its source: a cheek, lip or possibly a forehead. After a little investigative Hellen Keller groping of my facial features, it was determined to be a nose. Whether it was an exterior or interior leak had yet to be determined. I also could feel the slight makings of a fat upper lip as well as some assorted abrasions and a small dent where my sunglasses impacted into my cheek bone.

Meanwhile, the Peanuts were demanding a repeat performance as I lay face down in the snow and grappled with how to get up gracefully without looking like a victim from a Charles Manson movie. Plus, there was the complicating issue of the “snow effect,” which always has a way of turning a small trickle of blood into a seeming torrent. I tried to wipe off my face and stem the bleeding as best I could as I stumbled to my feet.

“Mommy’s OK,” I prefaced my recovery before turning to face my protagonists. “It’s just a flesh wound.”

Now, I’m not sure if I should be proud or a little worried about my children’s first reaction to witnessing live carnage of their mother. Instead of screams of horror as they ran in the other direction, they peered curiously at my new injuries. “We want to see the blood,” they said, taking even more perverse pleasure in my pain.

Although relieved that I apparently had not scarred them for life, I was a little disappointed that the only one even remotely interested in my welfare was the dog. And in hindsight, she was probably just there for , too.

Alas, I took my wounded visage add my even more wounded psyche and slowly climbed out of my morass of pain. When I reached the rest of the group, I tired to spin it as an extreme tubing accident, although truth be told, the only thing extreme about it was its stupidity.

And in between inquiries about my missing layers of epidermis, I tried to look on the bright side. Once the dried blood was flaked off, it was really just a mild road rash, sort of like a self-dermabrasion. Just think of the money I saved on expensive dermatological procedures. Plus, there were no broken parts or injuries that a cold beer wouldn’t cure. But I guess it’s good to know should that fateful day for serious medical attention arrive, maybe it won’t cost me an arm and a leg anymore.

– Missy Votel



In this week's issue...

January 25, 2024
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January 26, 2024
Paper chase

The Sneer is back – and no we’re not talking about Billy Idol’s comeback tour.

January 11, 2024
High and dry

New state climate report projects continued warming, declining streamflows