oh, injury.

The latest NOLS newsletter came in the mail recently. Surprise: there was an article in it concerning the rescue of a friend of mine, who was in a rafting accident on the Green River this past spring.

An excerpt from ìIt’s All Fun and Games Until You See The ëEddy Outí and ëFirst Aidí Hand Signalsî: A Wilderness Evacuation on a Personal Rafting Trip, by Catherine Stifter WMI-NOLS instructor, W-EMT, with Dave Yacubian, WMI-NOLS instructor, W-EMT:

Time check: 2:00pm – Our friend Belle was sitting in river water on the floor of the boat with ìpainî written all over her face. A paddling companion Tom (a WMI WFR) was stabilizing her lower left leg and foot, which was displaced a quarter turn from normal. Dave Yacubian knew the inch-deep, purple indentation at mid-shin was a fracture, but he asked for my second opinion. Leaning carefully on the raft to assess her injury elicited guarding and groaning. All the toes on both feet were cold and numb. We had an anxious patient with mild shocky vitals. On a scale of zero to broken, I guessed it was a 10.

Ouch! Belle’s been recovering nicely–hooray–and lucky for her, she had health insurance. But I’ve also spent an evening sitting in the ER at OHSU, waiting with an uninsured friend who was extremely stressed out from intense pain and, well, uninsurance. Quite possibly worrying about how he was going to pay for his emergency room visit was exacerbating his experience. I’m also uninsured, and when I crashed my bike recently and hurt my shoulder, I limped along for two weeks before I scraped together the resources to get my shoulder “looked” at. In the meantime, I was still working, trying to avoid lifting the heavy things but failing because, well, heavy lifting’s a part of my job.

So hold up, here: I’m a seasonal employee in the outdoor industry, I like to play, and should anything happen, I’ll be bearing the full brunt of that bruising. I encourage people to get outside and push themselves, and were I to take my own advice, I could get in some serious trouble. I did take my advice, and though I’m healing, I’m still a little freaked out because three weeks after the fact, I still can’t lift many things. It’s a difficult dichotomy. I can’t be alone in this dilemma, either, because Portland is a town filled with adventurers and outdoor enthusiasts, many of whom pursue employment seasonally, like I do.

Perhaps I’m not pursuing my care options aggressively enough, but what’s there to be done about situations like these?

1 Comment so far

  1. Betsy (unregistered) on August 30th, 2005 @ 3:05 pm

    And from a headline I scanned earlier, it looks as if there are more cuts coming to the Oregon Health Plan, ugh…

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