For the past two years, we have intended to take the kids to the snow, but somehow we never made it. So this year, we planned a trip to Lake Arrowhead with our Havourah. Three families went up on a Saturday, and we got hotel rooms so that we could play in the snow on both Saturday and Sunday. We found an area off the side of the road where there was a big flat area and a couple of slopes. There were lots of people building snowpeople and sledding, so we put on our snow clothes and joined the fun. First, we started the kids down a slight slope on our tube and saucer. They liked it, so after a little while we moved to a steeper slope. On this slope, some people went 1/3rd of the way up, some people went 2/3rds of the way up, and some people went all the way up Ė it all depended on how adventurous you were feeling.
Jackie went 2/3rds of the way up with Benjamin, and discovered something. Half of the fun of sledding comes from the speed and the motion, and half the fun comes from the adrenaline rush you get when you realize that you have no control over this circular thing you are riding on, and you could smash into a tree as easily as slide smoothly down to bottom. The adrenaline rush doubles when you slide down with a small child on your lap, and your concern for his safety eclipses your concern for your own, and on top of that you are petrified that you have just scared him out of a yearís growth and that he will never forgive you for doing it.
But Benjamin forgave Jackie, and even let her take him up the slope again. After a while, Jonathan, Benjamin and Marc went to build a snowman, and Jackie got to go down by herself. Then Jonathan and Marc went back to the slope to slide down from the top.
Marc had taken the inner tube down the hill from slightly higher than 2/3rd of the way up. He had pretty good control of the tube because both his arms and legs were long enough to scrape the snow and steer when necessary. So, when Jonathan wanted to go down with Marc from the top of the hill Marc said yes because he thought he would have reasonable control of the tube. Well the Marc hadnít counted on two things. 1) With Jonathan sitting in his lap, the center of balance of the tube was pushed forward and this made it very difficult to control and 2) most people slid down the hill from the 2/3rds point, so there was a worn track there. When you started from the top, there was no track, so in order to get to the bottom safely you need to get into the track.
Well, the tube did not make it into the track, and once out of control and out of the track, Marc couldnít gain control. Marc and Jonathan were going very fast and were very out of control. On the way down, they nearly bowled over a group of people standing to the side. When that happened, Marc tried to decide whether it was better to continue to get back on track or bail off the tube. When Marc saw the trees dead ahead, he decided to bail, but found that he couldnít. So he did the next best thing and twisted so that instead of hitting the trees head first, he would impact on his back to protect Jonathan from the impact. This worked to a degree. The tree impacted Marc just above his right hip and flung him off the tube and down the slope. As soon as Marc stopped, and ignoring the intense pain, he got his bearings and scrambled the 10-15 feet up the hill to Jonathan who was lying on his stomach and crying. His arm was dirty but he looked generally uninjured. He complained of his arm and head hurting but was able to get to his feet himself (as well as to be expected, considering he was on a snow covered slope.) It did not appear that he had lost consciousness, and his head and face showed no sign of impact. He was, however, very upset which is not surprising. A witness said that Marc had taken the brunt of the impact and that Jonathan had bounced against Marc.
Marc found Jackie and told her that they had crashed, and Jonathan had had enough, so they were going to wait in the car until she and Benjamin us were done. It was about 10 to 6, so it would be dark soon.
Marc took Jonathan back to the car and sat him down on the bumper. Jonathan was complaining that his ear hurt, so Marc put his hands over Jonathanís ears to see how cold they were. When he took his hands away, Jonathan said, "And now my ear is bleeding!!" Sure enough there was a trickle of blood coming from inside his ear. Well, blood coming from inside your ear can mean several things, and none of them are good. Marc got Jackie and Benjamin and the next question was "Whereís the hospital?" We retraced our path to the hotel, and when we came to the major street nearest the hotel we saw a sign "Hospital =>"
So we didnít have any trouble finding the hospital, thank goodness. And Jonathan was seen right away. The doctor said that it was most likely a ruptured eardrum, but they would do a head CT to rule out a skull fracture. Jonathan was complaining that he couldnít remember anything, but he never lost consciousness, so we thought that he probably just being Jonathan. The CT came back negative, and we were very relieved.
Jackie had taken Benjamin to get some dinner and then left him with the Havourah while she came back to pick up Jonathan and Marc. After the CT came back negative, Jonathan was discharged and he and Marc walked to the waiting room to wait for Jackie. However they never made it. Three quarters of the way there, Jonathan felt queasy and lost the pop tart that he had eaten a hour earlier. The doctorís response? "This may change my diagnosis. He may have to spend the night." Yikes! But when Jackie showed up just minutes later, Jonathan felt well, and showed no further symptoms. So after half an hour of observation and a cautious test walk around the corridors, the doctor decided an overnight stay was not necessary.
We left with detailed notes on what to watch for, and instructions to wake Jonathan every 3 hours and ask him his name. We went back to the hotel, fed him some dinner, put him to bed, called the desk wake up service, and placed calls for 1, 4, and 7 am. It was a lovely night. Not only did we get up a 1, 4, and 7, but Benjamin woke up at 11 and 3 with nightmares. A very restful vacation.
But the dawn broke bright and sunny and washed away the events of the day and night before. Jonathan was feeling much better, although he had NO desire to play in the snow! We went into the village for brunch, fed the ducks (donít their feet get cold?) and visited a few shops. Then we came back to the hotel to play in the snow. Since Jonathan wasnít interested in building snowmen, much less sledding, Jackie took him with her to pick up his prescription (for antibiotic eardrops.) An hour or so before dusk, we all took off to return home.
Three days later, Jackie took Jonathan to his pediatrician for a check up. She pronounced him fine, cleaned out the last remaining blood from his ear canal, and said that Jonathanís ruptured ear would be completely healed in two weeks.
So, while the experience was traumatic and stressful, it was over quickly, and we expect no lasting consequences (except perhaps a lasting dislike for snow by Jonathan!) May all your traumatic experiences end up the same way!
Jackie, Marc, Jonathan, and Benjamin