For better or worse, after marriage and children, the Ravenstads were ALL expected to ski. I skied as a teenager, but not well. Great memories of Mount Lassen (well, ok, some good and some not so good). The good memories were that we (my brother and I and friends) were free to roam up and down the mountain, unchaperoned, in my mother’s Lincoln Continental, and escalate all kinds of fun and shady shenanigans.
Fast forward to the early 2000s. I have three boys, a husband and it is ski season. A recent new friend through Cub Scouts, Sarah, had four children, all within the range of my boys. We work out a weekend for her family to come visit us in Twain Harte. My family arrives on Friday to our cabin. Sarah and crew meet us on Saturday at Dodge Ridge. They plan to spend the night at our cabin and go home on Sunday.
We meet at the Dodge Ridge lodge and 3 of her kids are in ski lessons, Sarah is skiing. Aaron and her youngest are too young to ski, so we take turns skiing/watching kiddos.
I should explain that the Ravenstads are experienced fixtures at Dodge Ridge. We have season ski passes, a parking pass and arrive at 7:30 am. We then set up our 8 foot baby gate in a corner and plant ourselves there for the day. We are not shy, but we do share (children of ages 1-3 are welcome to join the baby prison…um, I mean gate – baby gate… so long as their parents are fun and their children are well behaved. Free alcohol is also appreciated and will not be turned away).
The day is going exceptionally well considering the adults are outnumbered 7 to 3. Children are good, parents are happy. We are living the life. Around 3:00 in the afternoon, a storm comes in and it comes in quickly. Sarah has an older 10-seater van that does not have four-wheel drive. We are waiting for Roger and Anders to come in so we can head out before the snow gets to deep.
Then it happened.
“Will Jacquelyn Ravensbad please come to ski patrol.”
Let me tell you right now, this overhead page does not instill confidence. All I can think of is Anders, my one missing child. He must have fallen. I head straight over, now plowing through about 6 inches of fresh snow. I get to ski patrol and find that it is Roger who is hurt. They don’t have details, but he is being brought down from the farthest side of the mountain via ski patrol. Injuries are not fully known, but it appears we have a leg problem and it occurred, of all places, on a blue diamond run. The Ski Patrol twins address Roger at the top of the hill. He is on his stomach and is not moving for fear of more pain.
Ski patrol: We need to turn you over, sir.
Roger: (grimacing) You are not touching me without drugs.
Ski patrol: We don’t have drugs. We have to wait for the medics.
Roger: You don’t have any fucking drugs?
Ski patrol: No, sir.
Ski patrol: We need to turn you over.
The twins proceed to flip him against his wishes escalating pain to a level of 20 on a scale of 1 to 10. Once flipped, the twins split up. One is getting Roger situated, the second is busy keeping Anders distracted from the situation. Roger is placed in the ski patrol basket and brought up the chair lift then down from the top of the hill via the Ski twins.
The ambulance meets the Twins at the bottom of the hill. The medics address Roger.
Medics: We need to get your boot off.
Roger: You aren’t touching me without drugs.
Medics: We will get you drugs.
Roger: THANK GOD.
Medics administer their IV cocktail of the hour into his veins. The medics wait a few minutes for the cocktail to take effect. They re-examine his boots.
Medics: Sir, these boots are on really tight. We may need to cut them off.
Roger: They are tight because that is how they are supposed to be worn. YOU ARE NOT CUTTING MY $600 SKI BOOTS OFF. (A clear reflection of a closet gay man – save the shoes!)
Medics: Ok, sir.
Medics: Let’s do this.
The medics loosen the fastens on his boots and slowly remove both tight boots starting with the healthy leg. Roger’s screams echoed throughout lower Dodge Ridge.
Meanwhile, Anders is clearly traumatized. His lips are moving, but there is no sound coming out. The snow continues to fall. As soon as the patient is loaded into the ambulance, I make my way back to the lodge and tell Sarah to take the kids (all 7 of them). I’ll follow the ambulance down. I give Sarah instructions to the cabin she has never been to with additional instructions of a) where to find the mac and cheese and b) where to find the alcohol.
She sets off with basically a young version of the seven dwarfs, praying the snow fall lessens. I get behind the ambulance and head down the hill 10 minutes later. My windshield wipers can’t keep up with the snow fall and the visibility is terrible. As I continue to track the ambulance, I turn a corner and my suburban slides, mimicking the car that was 30 feet ahead of me, and I am now the second lucky participant to plow into a stuck jeep. FUCK. What a freaking goat rodeo.
I jump out, wiping snow from my head, I throw my information at the poor chap who obviously isn’t going anywhere soon and get back into my truck to FOLLOW THAT AMBULANCE.
I get another 5 miles up the snow trodden road and see Sarah’s van on the side of the road. My heart sinks. OH MY GOD. Are my kids ok? Where is Sarah? Are her kids ok? OH MY GOD.
I should have known better. Sarah is one of a handful of women that I have bonded with who meets my trusted level of common sense. Sarah and all 7 dwarfs were pulled over to the side waiting for me. She knew she was not going to make it down the hill.
We load Sarah and the 7 dwarfs into the suburban (with all of their 5 car seats) and proceed down the hill. The storm is of epic proportion. We finally hit the highway and as I turn left onto 108, the car makes this huge grating noise with a larger shimmy. The 7 dwarfs all scream.
Me: It must be all the snow. Just settle down.
Dwarfs: (untrustingly) OK.
The remainder of the drive we either were going straight or turning right. Meanwhile, Sarah puts two and two together on her own and understands the new wrinkle in our already complicated predicament.
I drop Sarah and the 7 dwarfs off at the cabin, reiterating my previous instructions of mac n cheese and alcohol and head down to the hospital.
For those of you who don’t know what I do for a living, I am a director of managed care in the hospital industry and had been for over a decade. This means I know HMOs/PPOs/MSOs/EPOs inside out, sideways and backwards. Arriving at the hospital, I forget everything I know. Am I out of area? What is my out-of-pocket responsibility? Do I need to call for authorization? I have completely lost it. So I call my medical group partner in crime and colleague (and most recently, my new neighbor) at home, at 7:00 pm on a Saturday night.
Me: Dan, its Jaye Lynn. Got a minute?
Dan: (Taken off guard)….Sure. What’s up.
Me: I tell my story, now starting to hyperventilate. What do I need to do?
Dan fills me in reminding me the logistics of my every day job. Comforts me. Assures me. I’m good to go.
I visit with Roger who is now blown out of his mind on Dilaudid, the wonder drug. They are keeping him overnight. He has broken his leg. They will make calls in the morning to have him moved to the Bay Area. I spend time with him, listen to the doctors, am assured he is well medicated and make my exit to head back to the cabin.
Shortly after 8:00 pm, I pull in. Sarah has fed all of 7 dwarfs, 5 of them are in bed. She has everything under control and pours me a Jaye Lynn worthy glass of wine.
As I slowly decompress, we start looking into tomorrow’s events. Her van is 25 miles up now a hill that there is no way in God’s green earth she is going to get down without 4 wheel drive. We have to go visit Roger and then figure out his transfer plan.
Me: I have good news and bad news.
Kelly: What’s the bad news?
Me: We are women.
Kelly: What’s the good news?
Me: We are women.
We put the remaining dwarfs to bed, have a few more glasses of wine, eating leftover macaroni and cheese out of the pan and put ourselves to bed.
The next morning, the worst of the storm has passed. We are faced with three feet of snow on the roads. Kelly and I feed the 7 dwarfs and we embark on the day. #1 – Check status of patient, #2 call said patient’s parents, #3 check on Van, #4 get the wrecked suburban back into working order, #5 exit cabin in a habitable state. Things didn’t necessarily happen in that order.
#1 – Called patient’s parents. This is not as easy as it sounds. The landline is dead from the storm. My cell phone gets intermittent reception. I am literally standing on my head, with one leg tilted to the right and my opposite arm tilted to the left trying to connect. I finally make connection. It’s Inge. Remember, these are transplanted Norwegians. Their English, albeit good, is often limited, especially during crisis.
Me: Inge, its Jaye Lynn. Everything is fine, but I have limited reception so listen carefully.
Inge: ooooOOOKAY (with Norwegian accent).
Me: Roger broke his leg skiing. They are going to transfer him to the Bay Area, but we don’t know where. I need you to stay posted for details.
Inge: Whaaaaaatttttt? (Norwegian accent, 70+ years old hysteria).
Me: I’m on my way to go see him, I’ll keep you posted.
Inge: (I honestly didn’t catch her last comment as I already had hung up).
#2 – To Sonora where we understand Sarah’s van is. The rat bastards have towed it and it is held captive to the tune of over $600. Sarah is newly divorced with 4 children and a dysfunctional school teacher for an ex-husband. She doesn’t have six hundred dollars. I’m property rich with three children and am completely cash poor. I don’t have it. Hold please. We’ll be back.
#3 – Pit stop at Subway for the 7 dwarfs. I didn’t have the heart to tell her my kids wouldn’t eat Subway. Again, this was Sarah, I didn’t have to. She would work it out in her no nonsense fashion.
#4 – Check on Roger while Sarah and the 7 dwarfs are at Subway. They are trying to transfer him home, but the only place that will take him is Stanford. While Stanford is great, the fact that no other facility in a 60 mile radius speaks volumes. The break is bad. Hold please.
#5 – Swing into the only open mechanic in Sonora — Gold ‘N Auto. It is now snowing in Sonora, heavily (so much for the reprieve).
Gold ‘N Auto is owned by two local boys. They sell gold and do auto repair — a full service operation to be sure. The guy on the left has a handle-bar mustache just like my Cousin Butch (This is in the mid-2000 year). They look at the Green Machine (my suburban), the bumper pushed into the wheel well, making it impossible to turn left.
Handle-bar Mustache: (cocks his head sideways) hmmm… we can try to pull off the bumper.
Partner: Let’s give it a go.
Said bumper is attached to a solid mount of steel and ain’t going anywhere.
Handle-bar Mustache: (cocks his head the other way, a big wad of chew in his lower lip). Hmmmm….. Iguesswecouldsawitoff??
Partner: Yeah (nodding his head)…Yeah, we could. Letssawitoff!
They pull out a torch gun and proceed to cut the offending part of my bumper from my truck. As it falls to the ground, they turn to each other and fist pump. Bless their hearts, they charged me $20 for their creative endeavors. Bless my heart, I don’t even have cash to pay them with. Do you take visa?
We are back in full operation and head to re-visit open item #2 – the Van. We show back up at the pawn car shop. The guy sees us coming. Remember the good news/bad news from the night before? Here’s where it pays off. We bit the bullet and agree to the $600 bill. He completes the invoice and slides it through the bullet-proof glass window for signature.
Sarah and I look at it. It shows a bill for $300……We sign it, no questions asked, give our sincere thanks without gushing in case video tape is running, collect the keys and HAUL ASS past the chain link gate that have unlocked to allow us to exit.
Back to #1 mission. Roger is ready for transport. I have my kids and a fully functioning dented car; Sarah has her kids with her van out of hock and down the hill we go.
Roger’s parents meet me in Livermore. Inge stays with the kids, Bjorn goes with me to Stanford to visit the patient. He spends almost a WEEK there, followed by six months non-weight bearing. It is brutal, it is draining, I am So done with skiing. He is on triple prescription drugs, they send him home in his hospital gown, he can’t ambulate upstairs for days, he needs assisted showers. Thank God he can use of both hands for a multitude of reasons and that his pharmaceutical cocktail has him professing his love and devotion on a daily basis. He spends his next several weeks watching Celebrity Profiles and the next best thing to cropping – reorganizing five years of photos into albums.
We all survived. Four of the five of us still ski. There will be no further explanation.