Picnic Day in the emergency room is no picnic

By April 23, 2009

My alternate headline could be, “The kindness of strangers — and great friends — is why Davis rocks.” Either way, here’s my story.

This weekend my husband and I had to divide and conquer. I hate when that happens, but our younger son had a soccer tournament in Carson City, Nev., and our older son had baseball in town and an overnight field trip for which I was a driver on Sunday. Plus it was Picnic Day — an event I love beyond reason — so I nominated myself to be the one to stay home.

Our kids also are big fans of Picnic Day , so I let my son choose all of the days’ events. He wanted to see the parade, then head over to some animal events before the Doxie Derby, then go watch some friends in a Little League game before catching Lone Twin’s last performance at E Street Plaza, finished off by seeing who was the last marching band standing at the Battle of the Bands.

To facilitate our ambitious plans, we rode our bikes.

Let me cut to the chase … we got as far as the heading over to the animal events before a major bike accident — solo crash, me versus the pavement — rearranged the rest of our day, and my face. I’ve got three chipped and cracked front teeth, my upper lip is swollen beyond Angelina Jolie proportions, and I’m sporting a cast on my left hand for a fracture. Ouch.

When you first get up from a bike crash like this and suspect you’re bleeding, you don’t want to look right at your horrified 12-year-old child. Instead, I queried “Am I bleeding?” to a wonderful woman named Pam who had jumped to the forefront of the crowd. Her calm “Um, yes” was belied by the look on her fifth-grade daughter’s face.

Pam quickly took action and called friends of mine whom I knew were in town, and either she or another bystander called for an ambulance. Someone helped my son usher our bikes to a safe place to lock up, and the ambulance crew showed up ready to take over.

Man, were they awesome. Michael Lopez, a paramedic with AMR, was fantastic with his calming and down-to-business manner, mixed with the right amount of humor. Lopez is just what you need when you — literally — fall on your face.

Because this ambulance was committed to Picnic Day , we had to wait for another ambulance from West Sacramento to arrive. The West Sac crew was fantastic, as well. Besides being very mindful of my son, the staff kept calm in the face of the crushing crowds of Picnic Day . AMR is doing something right.

Note to people walking by parked ambulances: The windows are not actually mirrors for your personal grooming. My son and I were cracking up over all the people who primped and preened in the “mirrors.” Anything in my teeth? How’s my hair? Does this van make me look fat?

As promised, the Sutter Davis ER was a total zoo. I arrived at 1:30 p.m. to a waiting room full of Indian dancers who’d suffered first- and second-degree burns on their feet during a performance, a guy who stuck his hand through a plate-glass window (I’m thinking alcohol was involved), and another guy who suffered a major arm injury when he tried to jump from one roof to another and nearly impaled his arm on a wrought iron fence (alcohol definitely was involved).

Roof jumper guy was my hospital neighbor; he was still so drunk that his main concern seemed to be whether anyone caught his stunt on video so he could watch it on YouTube.

The number of students rolling by on gurneys and puking so hard there was nothing left to puke was incredible for only mid-afternoon.

And still, amid all this chaos the ER staff was incredible. With ambulance after ambulance depositing more injured revelers at their door, the nurses and doctors kept a great attitude and seemed to handle each patient with compassion.

As for me, I had a team of friends helping with my son, my transportation (Vicodin and driving don’t mix) and my mental tasks (Vicodin and thinking don’t mix). I was consumed with the idea that I needed to go on my son’s field trip the following day, but my marvelous friend, Dianna, convinced me that was idiotic! What parent would want to see the likes of me in charge of their kids for 36 hours, driving a car one-handed and loopy on pain pills?

She helped rearrange all the kids into different cars and made the call to my son’s teacher to let her know I would not be able to drive.

And my amazing friend, Emily, insisted that I see a dentist that day. She would not listen to my excuses of not wanting to ruin someone’s day off and coerced me (in a good way) to call the emergency dentist on duty.

And, oh! Dr. Richard Kennedy, DDS, you are totally awesome! I am so grateful to you for giving up a couple of hours on Saturday to see me and get my teeth in working order. Although I can’t get them permanently fixed until my lip is healed, your quick work has left me in pretty good shape.

I guess the main moral of my story is how wonderful people are in a crisis. My friends, total strangers and “just people doing their jobs” made this pretty rotten experience not quite as rotten. We’re really lucky to be part of this community.

And, the second moral is to try not to need the ER on Picnic Day . It’s hard to get the images of mass puking out of your brain.

— Tanya Perez is an associate editor at The Enterprise. Her column runs every other Thursday. Reach her at tperez@davisenter prise.net. Comment on this column at www.davisenterprise.com

Tanya Perez

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