Friday, September 16, 2011
I haven't been to Warm Beach Camp since they eliminated the sulfur tainted water. I'd miss the boilded egg smelling Kool-Aid.
When I was younger, I had two favorite days of the year, one was Christmas morning, and the other was the first day of Warm Beach Camp. I guess I really don't know young I was. I at least had a firm grasp on how the calendar year works, because, you see I thought it appropriate that since camp usually started the second week or so of July that it provided a nice, balanced bi-annual day of anticipation. Warm Beach Camp is located one of the inner fingers of the Puget Sound, north of Seattle and was a major highlight of the summer.
I've been thinking of a time when I went on a horse-back trail ride. I had wanted to go on one for a number of years, only because I had images of full gallops along the water, urging the stallion ever faster. What it ended up being is a long line of horses, 20 or 30 us, with guides interspersed between 3 or 4 of us. The camp itself, sits on a bluff that ends in an abrupt drop of a few hundred feet down to the water of the Sound. The cliff was not so steep that trees couldn't grow, but if it was much steeper it would have been a sheer granite faced cliff. Criss-crossed through the woods were many trails, and it was one of of these, running along the hillside where our group found itself, plodding away CLOP ---------- CLOP --------- CLOP. Very slowly.
What happened next I remember as if it happened to the horse and rider directly in front of me. The image that is burned into my memory is of the young woman who was a guide in front of me along with her horse falling sideways into the brush and giant David Douglas Fir Trees filled drop off below our trail. If I'm remembering this the right way, the horse fainted (equine syncopy induced trauma is heavily tested on the boards, or so I've heard) or died, basically falling to it's right side and just free-fell. Of course the rider didn't expect this, and I can, even now, visualize them landing, in the same form as they had started, with the rider straddling the horse, and coming to rest a good 20 or so feet down the hill. I think they just landed and stayed put, with no traumatizing tumbling or smashing into timber. And they just laid there. After some of the guides scaled the drop to help her out, some of the other guides got the "civilians" out of there, many of us were crying. I may have been, but I kind of don't think so, I've never really reacted to events like that with crying -- not to say that I didn't cry. I'm sure a couple of them either radioed or engaged in a full gallop by the water to get back to the stables and help. I'm also sure of another thing, I remember being told that the girl only suffered a broken leg, but that the horse didn't make it. I wonder if that's all that really did happen to her? If so, I'm most likely "over-remembering" but, nevertheless, it was the talk of the camp for the rest of the week and I remember being so pleased that I was the one who everyone wanted to hear the story from. How sick is that? But, when the older kids and the cute girls are giving you positive attention, well, let's just say I wasn't one to let that opportunity pass.
Another story youth camp trauma happened when I was older and I'm sure I remember it with much more clarity. This time, I was at a camp near Sun Valley, Idaho that occurred over Labor Day weekend, and while this annual gathering wasn't as long lived as Warm Beach Camp (which still goes on year after year, which is impressive, good job to everyone involved) but was a three day action packed less supervised (which didn't necessarily mean we were up to no good, but provided a good atmosphere for good (and, yes, of course bad too) free wheeling fun). Yes, that was just a parenthetical inside a parenthetical (I've realized over the years that parenthetical mechanisms are a major component in my communication (and my inner dialog), for instance, when I'm conversing with someone, I'll often cite a fact, or occurrence of some kind that is pertinent, and attached to it is a beneficial element that lies in an immediate expression of the fact or incidence as it enhances either the effectiveness or quality of the initial thrust of interest) and I try to limit their occurrence, but I'm in a good mood today, so I yielded to the temptation.
The camp here was much more isolated and in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The camp was on the shore of a small lake, perhaps a mile, at most across. However, it was fed by a creek that was at the terminal end of a much, much bigger lake at the foot of a stunning peak in the Grant Teton range. The small lake was so clear at points that one could easily see 30 or 40 feet down, through the water. Large schools of fish were abundant and boulders and logs on the bottom were easily identifiable when in a canoe on a sunny day. The camp had two docks for our use, on was in a swimming area and the other is where the canoes were kept. People were not supposed to swim here, but it was much better for it, as it was much deeper and the swimming dock sat over hip deep water. Also, imagine 2 floating docks, about 15 feet away from each other as they extend into the water, this is how the boat dock was situated. However, they are connected by a bunch of 2X4's at the terminal end, providing stability. It also provided a place for gladiator like contests with two people duking it out with life-jackets fights (like a pillow fight), or perhaps oars, trying to knock the other into the water. This happened all the time and there was never really an issue -- maybe, once in awhile someone would say something about not swimming there, if they did it was halfheartedly and non-commital.
A very popular thing to do when I was growing up involved the dire need a young boy feels when near a body of water. The unexpected push-in of a friend or a cute girl was so irresistible that I can't help wondering what happens now, in the world of constantly carried cell-phones and personal electronic devices. Do kids still do the push-in, in the same manner that we did? If my child had a few hundred dollars worth of electronics ruined due to the push-in, I think I'd split my frustration not only at the fact someone pushed him or her in, but also that this is the state that we live in now, constantly armed with electromagnetic devices. Secondarily, I'd be concerned that I didn't teach my child well enough so that they'd anticipate the push-in and shed the devices in preparation for the push-in. Anyway, I guess this is a good time to apologize to anyone who received the push-in from me, I'm sure I'm guilty of more than a few unrepented wettings. So, if you ever see me again and you're worried that I haven't outgrown the push-in, rest easy my old friend, I've moved on. Now I'll just want to palpate your ischial tubercles and try and diagnose your latest and grossest. An improvement? Who's to say?
This push-in from my past, I'm glad to say was not one that I am guilty of, thank goodness. A foursome, two girls and two boys are on the dock, hanging out, two of them are my cousins. I don't believe we were planning on a canoe trip, but only just hanging around. Of course, my compadre, a good lifelong friend of mine initiates the push-in. I remember it like this. My friend pushed the first girl in with the surprise push in the back, and while trying to get the second young lady in (me thinks she doth protested much) she managed to drag him in with her. Tumbling into the water together, they untangled beneath the surface leaving both of them disoriented. They both got their bearings and swam for the surface, the girl, seeing she was under the dock, engaged in evasive maneuvers, and in doing so kicked powerfully to get her to the surface. As she was nearing the surface she was oriented so that she was face-up, in that that when she kicked, the dorsal area of her foot faced the surface. Or, in this case, it slammed into the underside of the edge of the dock. Right where there happened to be a huge, rusty, algae covered nail. Actually, "spike" provides a better image, as it was several times larger than a 16-penny nail. This pierced her foot, from the top and then exited her foot on the inferior side. She was pinned there, forced to tread water, on her back, with one of her feet secured to the underside of the dock, which, of course was near the surface. It all made for a very uncomfortable place to have to stay afloat. I remember her saying during this that her foot was caught, that is, she thought that it was just lodged between some boards or something and that she tried mightily to pull it out. Can you imagine what this might do to the site of injury? Thankfully, the water was not far away from its origin, which was either the snow pack or the glaciers that lived high on the mountains surrounding us -- it was cold. Eventually, some of the adults were brought down to help and I remember a man (again, I vividly remember who did this and looking back it was one of the many things that have spurred my desire to work in emergency medicine -- to be capable in these kind of situations is something I find intriguing and desirable) who spent a good amount of time getting her foot off the spike. The water was so cold she wasn't losing copious amounts of blood. Other people took turns helping the spike-stuck-girl stay above water with the aid of a few life-jackets. They got her out of the water and drove her into Sun-Valley, which must have been nearly an hour away. She was fine, and was back later that evening.
I'm not sure, but I think that might have been the end of my push-in tendencies. If they weren't, they should have been. I guess I have taken lessons from others' experiences -- Who would of thought?
Since I've rambled on this long already, I want to expand on my thoughts about the parenthetical manner of thought that I find myself constantly in. I think that it has been, and will continue to be valuable while in school. Learning about the human body in the context of medicine really is like one big parenthetical. Every thing that I learn about, is connected to another thing, and so on in perpetuity. This is obvious, but I had just not put into the context of my previous existing self parenthetical theory until now. Lectures given have parentheticals that are concerned about the pathology of a certain function, which leads to another that speaks to the appropriate and inappropriate treatments and so on. Looks like I chose the right field.