“Let’s see what’s going on here,” the older woman begins, unlacing my work boots, as the younger woman starts asking me basic information.
“Can I get your name?”
“And your address?”
“How about I just give you my driver’s license?”
“Oh, sure, I can do that. Do you also have your insurance card?” I reach into my purse, pushing a few things out of the way to get to my wallet. I pull out both cards and hand them to her and she wanders out to begin my intake with their computer system.
“Is everything current?”
“Yes,” I reply as the woman working with my shoe finally gets enough laces pulled out to remove it.
I cringe when she pulls on the boot, and she asks the obvious, “Does that hurt?”
“Yeah,” I chuckle. In fact, it hurts a lot.
“Can you rate the pain on scale from one to ten?”
“Well, when you pull on my boot, it’s about a six point five.”
“How about while I was untying it?”
“Maybe a three or four. It’s kind of pulsing.”
I feel relieved to have the boot off until she begins peeling off the sock.
“Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!”
“Just rip the bandage off,” I beg, wanting the pressure to end.
When the sock is finally off, I see her face make a crooked, uncomfortable expression, so I straighten my leg and lift myself up to be able to see what she sees. A deep rainbow of various colors spreads across my foot.
“Oooo, I don’t think that’s just twisted.”
I’ve broken toes many times and every time I would tape one to its neighbor, I would see those same colors. “I think you’re right.”
“Yeah, we’re going to get some x-rays.” She wanders out of the draped space leaving me alone.
I reach into my purse and grab my phone. This is the first moment I’ve been alone since I injured myself, so I check my email to see if there is anything from Daniel that has come in since we swapped messages yesterday. Nothing.
I see the young attendant or technician, or maybe she is a nurse, heading my direction, so I quick send him a text: an emoji of pie.
“Here’s your ID and insurance card. I do have a couple other questions. Do you have a primary care physician?”
“Yes, let me look up her name.” I scroll through my phone and find her name. I hold it out to the nurse to write down.
“Okay, who should I put as an emergency contact?”
Of course it should be Daniel, but this isn’t a life-or-death, emergency situation, and he certainly isn’t reachable, so I give her Aaron’s name and number.
The Ranger wanders back in as I am signing the form.
“Wow, that looks nasty,” he comments on my foot.
He watches me hand the pen back to the technician and reminds me, “Be sure to tell them this is a work-related injury.”
The technician looks at each of us and I just shrug.
“Well, that’s a whole bunch more paperwork.” She leaves and he looks back at my foot.
“That looks pretty ugly.”
“Thanks, that’s what every woman wants to hear.”
He doesn’t even look up at me, he just keeps looking at my ankle and the colors swirled down my foot. “Do you think it’s broken?”
“The nurse thinks it is. I think she went to get a doctor’s order to take some x-rays.”
“Okay, good.” He looks out towards one of the other rooms.
“Hey, so there’s a guy here from the Search and Rescue division of the Sheriff’s Office who wants to ask you a few questions.”
“Just out of curiosity, am I in any trouble because I went out in my own vehicle after hours?”
“Were you asked to do so?”
“Yeah, I mean, I was.” When he puts it that simply, it doesn’t sound like it will be a problem, but I want to be sure before I talk to anyone in law enforcement.
“I wouldn’t worry about that. I think he wants to find out where you were, what you saw, and that kind of stuff so they can plan for tomorrow morning.”
“Okay, I’ll do what I can.” I probably could use a map so I can show him exactly where I was. “I have a map of the forest in my truck. Do you mind going to get it?”
“I’ve got at least a half dozen of them in my truck. I’ll grab you one.”
The nurse finally wanders back into the room and begins taking my vitals.
“We won’t be too much longer here. Do you mind waiting outside for a few minutes?”
The Ranger doesn’t appear to mind at all, but he asks for special permission anyway.
“The Sheriff’s Office is having to revamp their search operation, so we need to ask her some questions about where she was up there.”
“I understand, but we’re going to have to take a few x-rays, so she’ll probably be tied up for the next thirty to forty minutes.”
The two of them talk as if I am not even there.
“Um, may I interrupt for a moment?” They both look at me as if I have two heads.
“One, how’s Jacob doing?”
“He seems to be doing just fine, just a touch of dehydration. He’s in pretty good shape,” The Ranger offers.
“Is his family here?”
“They’re on their way, but they may not be here until late tonight.”
“It’s already late tonight.”
“True. Probably after midnight.”
“Okay, good. Um, number two, can I get something for the pain?”
He looks at the nurse. “That’s all you.”
“We can get you something as soon as we finish your medical history.” She glances at The Ranger. He takes the hint and heads back to the small crowd.
“Any known allergies to medications?”
“We can give you an NSAID, or something stronger if you need it.”
“If you’ve got some ibuprofen somewhere, that will do.”
“We’ll get you a couple of those.”
By the time the technician carts me back to the triage room, it feels like hours have passed. The ER tech secured my purse while I was with the x-ray technician, so when she finally brings it back to me and I can glance at my phone, I notice a missed call from Daniel. Thankfully, he left me a voice mail.
“Hey Nat, we’re having a busy morning here. I can’t get into it right now, but we might have a change of plans for this weekend.”
Ugh, I will hate it if he cannot get back home this weekend. I don’t care how sore my foot is, I will drive to Billings tonight if it means he can be back home.
“I should be home on Sunday, but I might need you to pick me up in Cheyenne. Anyway, just know that I love you and miss you more than ever.”
I can’t tell if this message came through before or after I sent him the text, but since he didn’t make mention of my need for pie to fix everything, it isn’t unlikely that it took this long for the voice mail to reach my phone. In the meantime, the ibuprofen is doing its part to help.
I check my text messages, just in case there is anything I missed while getting pictures of my colorful ankle and I see one from Aaron.
Just found out you’re in the ER. Take tomorrow off.
I’ll check in with you in the morning.
I have not given any thought to tomorrow. I might have to head back to the house rather than spend the remainder of the week at the cabin like I planned. Although, I probably left a light on, and just in case weather comes through before we get back up to the mountains, I need to make sure I turn off the water and secure the cabin for winter. I guess I know what I will be doing with my day off.
As I sit waiting for my debriefing, my phone chimes with a new text.
It’s from Daniel. It shows two pie emojis. No telling what’s going on with him, but hopefully it doesn’t mean he has two possible broken ankles.
NEXT: Heavy Duty – Part 36