One Head Injury Can Ruin Your Whole Day

Our health insurance is so horrendous, we know that unless we’re bleeding to death, using it would bankrupt us. We had another opportunity to test this theory recently when a tree fell on me.

Watch Out for that Tree!

What began as a volunteer effort to clear slash piles from our community greenbelt turned into a scary reminder that life can change on a dime.

As we were preparing to wrap up the day, I was about to bend over to pick up my work gloves to leave.  Then, WHAMO! A sickening CRACK! knocked me to the ground.

(this is not the tree that fell on me!)

I  fell, and when I opened my eyes, I swear I heard birds chirping around my head. I wondered “What the hell?

Wrong Place, Wrong Time

A nearby volunteer had been goofing around and decided to push over the one, dead  limb-less tree left in the work area, not realizing that this 25-foot tall log would fall directly on top of me. Everyone saw what was about to happen, but apparently were too dumbfounded to yell out “HEY!”

I never saw it coming as it struck me dead center on my noggin’.

Rat SkullEMTs showed up, a cervical collar was slapped around my neck, and in my woozy haze, my fuzzy mind heard someone say “Life flight helicopter” over a radio.

“Noooo! I will NOT go to the hospital!” I yelled out.

I could sit up, turn my head, see straight and although I felt like hell, I knew whatever had happened wasn’t going to instantly kill me. At that moment I felt strong enough to walk out on my own.

Recollections of my 2001 motorcycle crash came flooding back as I recalled the $8,000 life flight ambulance ride and the $25,000 in medical bills from one emergency room visit. No way in hell would I get in an ambulance. After all, I wasn’t bleeding or unconscious, so I didn’t need it.

After convincing Jim I didn’t need to go, and a long verbal wrestling match with the EMTs, I signed a waiver of responsiblity, and we left the scene.

Brain Hemorrhage or Just a Bad Headache?

Being one hour away from a hospital is a scary thing when you think you might need one. That evening, I felt like I might need a doctor, but I knew if I woke up in the morning, it would’ve been a waste of time and money.

What doesn’t kill ya makes you stronger, right?

Rat SkullThe next day I felt like a truck ran over me. So away we went to see a doctor, who gave me mental competency tests to ascertain the severity of the blow.

I never realized how frightening it would be to have a doctor look you in the eye to examine your mental capacities.

After passing the test with a “D,” the doc said to me: “Hitting your head the way you did is just like when a diver hits the bottom of a swimming pool.”

Oh crap.

“You’ve very lucky that you seem OK. But you need a CT scan and x-ray. You could have bleeding going on around your brain and not know it.”

Damn. Medical bills!

Diagnosis: Lucky Girl

I shook all over and wanted to puke, not knowing if brain surgery was in my future. But less than an hour later, I found out I was OK, relatively speaking.

See my metal plate?My moderate concussion me out of commission for all of last week and somewhat this week. But after several days of medicinal naps, restricted computer time and general malaise, I’m feeling better. My brain is still playing tricks on me when I try to do things like focus and type, and my neck is still tweaked, but it’s better than having a hole drilled in my skull.

Just another reminder that life is darn short.

Sometimes a lot shorter than we ever think it could be.

Now get off your computer and go live, darnit!



25 thoughts on “One Head Injury Can Ruin Your Whole Day”

    • Thanks Branndon. Yeah. I’m not sure if we would have handled this the same way if it happened again, but with our health insurance being so bad I can’t imagine any other way of dealing it. The only long term effect is I think it knocked my jaw a little out of whack but otherwise I’m still the same hard-headed gal I’ve always been 😉 Thanks for asking (and reading!).

  1. I haven’t been to your blog to read posts lately so I’m just getting to this. Wow! I’m glad to hear that relatively speaking you are okay. We know in this household how dangerous it is working around falling trees. Hope you’re feeling better.

  2. What a horrible story! We’re so glad you’re mostly ok and improving, and hope you’re back to 100% soon. How frightening that must have been for both you and Jim, and YES, you were so lucky the injury wasn’t more severe or deadly. Yikes! The insurance thing is awful. Our 22-year-old daughter is on our insurance still (thanks to recent changes in healthcare laws) so when she tore her ACL /this summer and had reconstruction surgery, it “only” cost us $3,000 out of pocket instead of the $26,000 we’d have been charged if we had no insurance. And that was just “day surgery” and physical therapy! Hang in there and keep us posted on your progress.
    Cathryn and Bob

    • Thanks Cathryn & Bob, your good thoughts are much appreciated. Glad your daughter got that taken care of now. I don’t know what we’d do if we had to have some kind of surgery like that. Ugh.

  3. First a deer, now a tree. Maybe you eed to ead back to the urban jungle. Nature is too dangerous! I am soooo glad you are ok. That must have been scaryf r you and for Jim. Next time, take the ride. I know what you mean about the medical bills, but better to be healthy and in debt! I won’t ponder an alteranative.

    Miss you

    • Haha! I thought about that, how all of my bumps and bruises have occurred in the Great Outdoors. I wouldn’t change it for a thing though (well, except maybe for those things not to have happened).

  4. OMD Rene!! Woulda, coulda, shoulda! 😉 I sure hope that if you ever face a terrible situation like this again, that you will give in and to get checked out immediately. Scary stuff. Feel better soon!!!

  5. Good grief, Rene! There you are, out trying to commune with Mother Nature, and wham! So sorry to hear about this. Girl, you are fortunate to be alive and able to type this post!

    I am sure you must be in some serious pain, but hopefully that will pass very quickly. Maybe a Texas Republic tea, made by Dr. Jim, will speed the healing process???

    Hugs to you from all of us at The Ranch.

  6. Here is why head injuries scare the crap out of me, they are nothing to mess around with! – remember that actress who died a couple of years ago?? “On 16 March 2009, Richardson sustained a head injury when she fell while taking a beginner skiing lesson. The injury was followed by a lucid interval, when Richardson seemed to be fine and was able to talk and act normally. Paramedics and an ambulance which initially responded to the accident were told they were not needed and left.[19] Refusing medical attention twice, she returned to her hotel room and about three hours later was taken to a local hospital after complaining of a headache.[20][21] She was transferred from there by ambulance to Hôpital du Sacré-Cœur, Montreal, in critical condition and was admitted about seven hours after the fall.[22][23] The following day she was flown to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, where she died on 18 March.[1] [24] An autopsy conducted by the New York City Medical Examiners Office on 19 March revealed the cause of death was an “epidural hematoma due to blunt impact to the head”

  7. Wow, what a story! I’m glad you’re OK 🙂 Not sure I understand the thinking about insurance, though. We’ve discussed this in the past too. Why pay for it if you are afraid to use it? All the money you’d save by not having it would then be available to spend to take care of yourself when you actually need it. There’s no obvious right answer here, I know, since the logic is as convoluted as the system pretty much anyway you look at it.

    • Well funny you say that Dave. We had actually considered dropping our insurance last month, because it went up another $75 a month and we thought about the convo that we had with you about it. We considered stashing what we would pay for the premiums into a savings account. I’m glad we didnt. The reason we decided to keep it is because when you have insurance, it not only gives you a discount on provider services, but it also gives you a clout when you are being treated than uninsured people just don’t get.

      When I checked into the imaging center for the tests, they didn’t even want to know my name before they saw my insurance card. When I called for an estimate on the charges after the tests were done, the approximate amount the center billed the insurance company was about half of the street rate, or what an uninsured people would pay. So all we get out of the thousands we pay in premiums is a big fat discount. So, that IF we ever had to meet our $13,500 yearly deductible, at least those charges would be steeply discounted.

      Really, the insurance is only good for a huge, catastrophic illness with surgery involved. Still, it would put us over the edge. Something like 80 percent of all bankruptcies are from people who HAVE medical insurance! It’s a screwed up system for sure.

      • It is funny in a morbid and twisted kind of way but your response actually clarified something for me. Just as big investments (say solar panels, or owning rather than renting a house) may take time to “pay for themselves” in savings, pulling out of the forced inequity of health insurance also takes time to pay for itself. The longer you healthily survive without paying the premium, the more you’d have when you really need it. That’s assuming you actually set it aside as you mentioned. Since I got off health insurance, I haven’t been doing that. But if I had kept health insurance, I’d have needed a second job just to pay the premium and my good health shows I never once would have needed to use it.

        • The suckiest thing about insurance is that it’s ALWAYS a gamble and you’re really throwing money away if you never use it. So it’s all about how big a risk someone is willing to take by being uninsured.

          But despite our attempts to stay as healthy as possible (I was training for a half marathon until this!), accidents DO happen and that’s what it’s there for. I hate that, but it’s the yin and yang of the Universe. I’ve had 3 head injuries in 16 years, not by choice.

  8. Okay, so when I was a manager on duty at the Hilton in Palm Springs I got a call that a young woman had been injured out by the pool.

    When I arrived she was laying flat on her back, conscious but a bit of blood pooling under her head where her head hit the pavement. She was complaining of severe head and neck pain, and blinding flashes.

    I made her stay still and sent someone to notify her parents – she was 18 and traveling with them. When they came running from their room, the mom was panic-sticken.. “Oh, my baby my baby!” But dad was less so. He looked skeptical, but also very anxious. “Deb, get up and stop this nonsense!” he barked at her.

    I had to make him walk away. I told him it’s best she not move and wait for medics, as 911 had been called. He adamantly demanded that we not transport her to the hospital but since she was 18 it was her call and she said she wanted to go.

    After they immobilized her and mom had left to ride in the ambulance with her, I had a chat with the dad. He explained how they were strapped and he was barely holding his family together. The only reason they were at a Palm Springs resort hotel was that they came up from LA for the weekend to attend a relative’s wedding and the relative had paid for the room that the 4 of them shared (the girl had a younger sister). Dad said that when she turned 18 only a few months earlier, she’d been taken off his work insurance, which he said sucked anyway. He said they only had gas to get back to LA because the relative had given him 40 bucks cash after the wedding, which they’d attended earlier that day.

    The man was crying. Seriously. I assured him that the hotel insurance would pick up the ambulance, since I was the one who had called, but I couldn’t vouch for what would happen at the hospital. Of course someone later suggested an attorney for them, so there was a lawsuit and I never knew the outcome, as it was all handled by our GM. Probably a settlement. But I did find out she indeed had a concussion and neck injuries that required long-term rehab, so I’d made the right call in transporting her (actually the ONLY call you can make if you’re running a hotel).

    Moral of this story, AND yours, is that we’re in a sad state of affairs in this country if we’re afraid of medical help even if we’re insured. A man declined an ambulance while his teen-aged daughter lay there with a pool of blood under her head. You declined a life-flight and took the risk of dying of a seizure later. It’s insane! I don’t have a solution or even a suggestion, I’m just pointing out how absurd it all is. But glad you’re okay!

    By the way, Dorian’s care so far has amounted to about $300,000.00 but I guess the city is picking up that tab. They have to, we certainly don’t have it. We don’t have rent this week.

    • That story made me cry Dave. I hope she was OK.

      And it IS a sad state of affairs when you can’t even USE the damn insurance you pay for without losing your shirt!

      Honestly at the time though, I didn’t consider the risk of dying from a seizure. Call it stoopid, but that didn’t occur to me, even after I self-diagnosed online, the risk is pretty minimal.

      That amount for D’s surgery is insane. Things are very, very broken.

      Dave, you’ll get rent money, you always do. We send our love.

  9. HOLY SMOKE…that is scary stuff! Having recently been to hospital w/ a head injury I totally understand how you feel about the ER (we just got the bill this week…yikes…and I’ve spent a few hours on the phone w/ the hospital negotiating to get the $$ down).
    SOOO happy there was nothing serious going on inside the noggin’, but sure hope all that fogginess gets better for you soon.
    Take care of yourself!

    • Nina, I thought of you and I felt totally bad about making the joke about the corner-protectors for your RV. I’m glad you are OK too.

      The difference between your mishap and mine is that you actually had blood dripping down your head. The tree didn’t even break the skin on my skull!

      Momma always says I have a hard head….

  10. Oh Rene! I am glad you are doing ok, although a bit hazy. Take it easy and don’t think too hard. Big hug and stop pissing off the trees. 😉


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