The Blizzard of 2009 is over for the East Coast of the US and it was a beautiful and peaceful event for us. The day was spent sitting by a cozy fire reading a good book and every few hours making a pass or two with the snowblower.
Baltimore, my hometown, received at least 21 inches of snow in the past two days – shattering the previous two-day December snowfall record of 14.1 inches from 1960 and accumulating more snow in two days than the average annual Baltimore snowfall of 19.8 inches. The last time Baltimore received this much snow was when the February 2003 “President’s Day” snowstorm dumped nearly 27 inches on the city.
That snowstorm followed one of the scariest “Mostyn Medical Mayhem” moments of my life. On President’s Day Weekend 2003, our family (including my husband, our kids and my in-laws) was enjoying the long weekend at Camelback Mountain Resort in the Poconos mountains in Pennsylvania. I was nervous about the trip because the Poconos have historically been a place for Mostyn Medical Mayhem, but that’s a story for another time. Although my in-laws don’t ski, they came along to enjoy the beautiful scenery. Our kids have been skiing almost before they could walk, so it was no surprise that we skied all day even though the kids were just 7 and 9 years old at the time. After a full day of skiing, the hot tub was calling my name and our daughter, M3, agreed to go with me and leave “the boys” (T2 & T3) to ski after dinner. We stayed at a townhouse next door to the ski slopes and had long-range walkie-talkies (those were the days before cell phones were popular) to communicate while on the mountain.
About an hour after we went back to the townhouse I received a page from T2 saying, “You need to come to the resort RIGHT NOW. T3 has been hit by a snowboarder. Ski Patrol is on their way, but he’s not conscious.” My father-in-law drove me to the resort and returned to be with my mother-in-law who was keeping M3 occupied. I was soaking wet from the hot tub and in my rush couldn’t get my boots on correctly, so my hair was freezing to my head and I was quite disheveled when I burst into the Ski Patrol headquarters. I quickly told them who I was and that my son was being brought down off the mountain and a very wonderful woman calmly explained the current situation.
“The Ski Patrol is with your husband and son on the mountain. We don’t know the extent of the injury at this point, but we have three options depending on his status: 1) he could be fine when he gets down and we send him home with you, 2) he could be injured and require medical treatment, if we determine he needs to be examined by a doctor we have an ambulance right outside that is ready to transport him to the local emergency room, or 3) if the extent of his injury is determined to be serious, we have a helicopter on stand-by to fly him to a hospital in New York. If he goes by helicopter, there is not enough room for anyone to fly with him.”
This is NOT what I wanted to hear. What I wanted to hear that was that my son was fine, that my husband overreacted, and that we would all laugh about my appearance when they came down the hill.
After what seemed to be a very long time, but in fact was probably less than 10 minutes, the Ski Patrol came down the hill with T3 immobilized and strapped to a stretcher trailing behind the snowmobile. They moved him, board and all, into the building where I waited. My husband was ashen, his first words to me were, “He was run over by a snowboarder, I don’t know that the kid even stopped. He was just laying in the snow and wasn’t responding when I called his name.” He held my hand and we waited for the Ski Patrol to do what they do best.
When they brought him in, T3’s eyes were open, but he seemed very disconnected from what was going on around him. The Ski Patrol members took his vitals and checked for feeling in his arms and legs. He was diagnosed as having a concussion, but he would be transported by ambulance since he could feel his arms and legs once they warmed up (another scary moment there when he sad he couldn’t feel his feet, but it seems they were just very cold). We reported the update to my in-laws and T2 drove the car to the hospital while I rode in the ambulance with T3.
During the ambulance ride, the EMT asked T3 what his name was, how old he was, and who I was. He answered correctly. He then asked what day it was and what he had for dinner and the response was, “I don’t know.” Again, NOT what I wanted to hear…but I was encouraged that he was at least responsive with feeling in his extremities. We got to the hospital and they re-checked his vitals and prepped him for x-rays and a CT scan. After several hours, the results came back that he had a concussion but was ok to be released to go “home” as long as he was monitored every hour to make sure he was still coherent. T3 drove us back to the townhouse where we arrived at almost 2AM.
At 3AM, the first time I woke him to ask who I was, his response was, “I don’t know.” I asked him again louder, as if that would help, with the same answer. I turned on the light instead of the nightlight that we had on in the room asked again and he responded, “Daddy?” NOT what I wanted to hear, part 3… By this point, T2 was awake and as I asked again (loudly) and made him really look at me, I finally got the answer that I wanted, “Mommy, can I go to sleep now?”
After hourly wake-ups with the 20 questions quiz – who am I, what’s your name, etc. by the time I woke him at 7AM his response was, “Moooommmm, can I please go back to sleep?” Now THAT’S what I wanted to hear. <Grins> At that point, I got up and found my in-laws, T2, and M3 watching the TV. This is very unusual for our family to watch TV on vacation, so I thought they might be looking to see if T3 made it to the news…until I saw that they were watching the Weather Channel and it was calling for a blizzard on the East Coast in the next 24 hours. It was an easy decision to cut the vacation short, pack up and head home to Baltimore so that if anything else happened we would be at home where we had medical facilities with which we were familiar. We made it home just in time for 27 inches of snow to arrive in Baltimore.
Which brings us back the the Blizzard of 2009, where the 20 questions of “Can you please being in more firewood?” and “Can you please run the snowblower over the driveway?” are answered with, “Moooommmm, can I please finish this video game first?” Exactly what I expect to hear from a nice, normal, “healthy” teenage boy.
Most of my posts have a marketing moral, but this trip down Blizzard Memory Lane has only a safety warning: if you ski or snowboard, please wear a helmet. Even though he had a concussion, I’m convinced that T3’s injury would have been much worse if he wasn’t wearing a helmet while skiing. Do you have a safety tip for skiing or a memory of blizzards past? Please share them in the comments below.