The Four Labors of Carrie Cook: The Tragic Setting
Has life ever thrown you a curveball that truly pushed you to your limits and tested your willpower? Let’s just say this is not your average tale of trials and tribulations.
The Tragic Setting
Who knew that glamping could be so dangerous?
It was a Friday evening in May 2021, out at Lake Mead National Recreation Area, just hanging out playing cards at my mom and dad’s motorhome. My mom dealt a hand of cards, and we were waiting for my son to come back from our motorhome. When he did not come back, I went to investigate. I opened the door and went down to the bottom stair to turn around and close the door. I then went to walk away, or so I thought.
Not realizing that my shoelace was wedged in between the metal of the bottom stair, I went to step away, and my feet were abruptly ripped out from underneath me. I reacted by putting my hands out to catch myself as I was falling onto a slab of concrete. It all happened so fast.
As I laid there for a second, I guess inside the motorhome it sounded like I had fallen down the stairs due to my shoelace pulling on the stairs creating a noise that would imply an altercation with the stairs. When they opened the door, I had realized that I could not get up due to my shoelace being caught and so did my mom who helped me pry the shoelace free. Once pried away, I was able to stand up with the assistance of my husband.
By this point I was assessing if I had any injuries because it all happened within a split second. The palms of my hands were throbbing in pain, but nothing else seemed to hurt at that moment, so my husband walked me over to our motorhome. I walked in and sat down.
The palms of my hands were throbbing as the pain was starting to move up my arms. Within 30 minutes of the fall, I could not move my arms. When I say I could not use my arms, I mean zero movement. My arms were laying on my lap and they were throbbing in pain. I could not move my shoulders, elbows, or fingers. My arms had endured such an impact that blood had started to pool in places it should not have. This creates a feeling of being paralyzed which is what our bodies do to protect the injured area.
In my true stubborn nature, I did not want to go to the hospital. I figured by morning my body would recuperate. I laid in excruciating pain all night. By 5 am, I could no longer handle the pain and, ultimately, the fear that I still could not move my arms was starting to set in.
When we arrived at the Boulder City Hospital, we were the only people in the emergency room and therefore we were assisted very quickly. The evaluation by the doctor did not take long and it seemed odd to him that I was unable to move my arms. Upon the doctor reviewing x-rays, it was determined that I had fractured both my elbows.
When the doctor told me the news, he could not believe it. He seemed perplexed by how to treat me further because, little did I know, a double arm fracture puts you in a category of incapacitated. This means that he was required to have me transported to a hospital equipped with an MRI to assess if additional damage was done. Although he suspected the pooling blood was causing the inability to move my arms due to the pressure being applied to nerves and muscles, he could not confirm without an MRI, which the Boulder City Hospital was not equipped with.
Since my husband brought me to the emergency room, the doctor was willing to contact a local orthopedic surgeon to confirm my release and set a Monday morning appointment. Once he was able to coordinate and consult with the orthopedic surgeon, he then placed me in two slings which is the equivalent of a straitjacket. Being a person who is claustrophobic this was not a pleasant experience. Then I tried to stand up and quickly realized that my balance was compromised without the use of my arms as they were now affixed to my body. This was going to be interesting. Prior to my departure they had the pain under control and prescribed additional pain medication to get me through the next few days until my appointment with orthopedic surgeon.
Going back to camping was clearly no longer an option for me, so my husband took me home.
The next day was complete hell. Swallowing pills is a challenge for me, but the pain on a scale of 1 to 10 was a solid 10 so I had to figure it out. I was icing every 20 minutes which I could barely feel at this point due to the overwhelming pain. I struggled to lay down or get up with my arms affixed to my body, so I slept and sat propped up on a wedge pillow. I was eating enough to continue the pain medication regiment and slept most of the time due to the drowsy effect of the medicine.
I could not shower myself, dress myself or do anything for myself for that matter. For those who know me well, they know this was not remotely fine with me. I was struggling with mind over matter during the times I was awake. I was literally talking to my arms to try and ask them to move an inch with little to no response. All I kept thinking is what else is wrong internally because not being able to move my arms was not something I was willing to accept.
The weekend was ending, and I knew I had to inform my management staff what had happened because I had no idea what the recovery time from this injury was going to entail. Like the emergency room doctor, they too had a hard time believing it was both my elbows. And yes, I was starting to understand the consequences of it being both arms and the doctors’ comment about being incapacitated because I was! I was 100% dependent upon those around me for everything.
“I was 100% dependent upon those around me for everything.”
Monday morning could not come soon enough. When we got to the orthopedic surgeons’ office, I feared further bad news but that is not what I received. He too was a bit surprised by the double fractures in both my elbows at my age and wanted to inform me that push-ups are not meant to be done from a standing position. What a comedian he is! He basically said it is going to hurt like hell for three weeks until I will start to feel some relief. He too prescribed more pain medication, which I did not fill. He then informed me that in three weeks we will get more X-rays to see how the bones are healing and go from there.