Amy Roberts: A love letter to my former employer
If your mother is anything like mine, chances are you were probably instructed to, “Always wear clean underwear, because you never know when you’ll be in an accident.” While I chose to heed that advice for reasons unrelated to an unexpected trip to the hospital, Monday was the first time I ever realized the value of those words.
I woke up feeling great, or at least normal for a woman in her mid-40s. I took the dogs for their morning walk and returned home feeling a soreness on one side of my lower back. I figured it was a strain caused by my ill-behaved canines (we saw many squirrels on that walk). I didn’t give it much thought, but the pain persisted and intensified. Within an hour, it was so severe I was nauseous. I moved from standing to sitting to laying down, trying out every horizontal and vertical position imaginable, hoping to find some relief. Nothing helped. Then a continuous loop of sweats and chills kicked in, along with multiple trips to the bathroom. I haven’t prayed to the porcelain gods like that since I turned 21.
Turning to WebMD for help, I started checking off my symptoms. There was not a box for “feels like I’m being continuously punched by someone wearing SPIKED brass knuckles,” but after a few minutes, I concluded an invisible person was either currently harvesting my right kidney, or I was passing a kidney stone.
I’ve always been told I have an impressively high pain tolerance. I suspect this is to compensate for my zero stupidity tolerance. I’ve had reconstructive spinal surgery, numerous knee surgeries, dislocated joints and several broken bones, and have rarely needed anything more than an 800mg ibuprofen to control the pain. Since I don’t like the way prescription pain meds make me feel, I don’t bother with them. But for a few hours on Monday morning, I would not have thought twice about swallowing a fistful of narcotics.
Given the amount of pain I was in and the symptoms I was experiencing, I realized I needed to go to the hospital, though I was reluctant for a number of reasons. I began working at Park City Hospital before it was open — when it was still a large hole in the ground. I spent nearly a decade of my life as the hospital’s public relations director, and still have many friends who work there. I wasn’t sure I wanted anyone I know to see me in that condition. I also didn’t want to strain health care resources during a pandemic. Plus, I hadn’t showered. And, I questioned if I was just getting less tolerant for pain with age. (It’s certainly true for stupidity.) Maybe I just needed to tough it out. Further, during my tenure I worked on a number of campaigns designed to educate the public about seeking appropriate care. I vaguely recalled messaging about only using an ER if “death was likely.” But then I remembered that “unstoppable pain or bleeding” were also acceptable reasons for an ER visit. My mental dilemma was settled with what felt like a sucker punch to the kidney.
Within minutes of arriving, I received blissful relief, a CT scan, and most importantly, assurance from a physician friend that my visit was appropriate. “Passing a kidney stone is no joke. You’re in the right place,” Dr. Geoff Crockett confirmed. It was comforting to know the person helping me through a medical situation, even if it did feel a little awkward handing him my urine sample.
When the ordeal was over and I was back home, I took a moment to reflect on what a tremendous asset that hospital is to our community. When I worked there, I could recite all the key messages and stats by heart: How many lives were saved because of the hospital’s proximity and early treatment in an emergency; how many locals were able to visit their loved ones multiple times a day; how many gallons of gas were saved not driving down the canyon; how many babies were not born on I-80; how many hours of suffering were eliminated. I always understood the value Park City Hospital brings to our community; I had just never actually experienced it personally until a few days ago.
It was a privilege to play a small part in building that facility, and a relief to be cared for in my community.
And yes, mom, I had on clean underwear.
Amy Roberts is a freelance writer, longtime Park City resident and the proud owner of two rescued Dalmatians, Stanley and Willis. Follow her on Twitter @amycroberts.
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A trip to Reno and beyond is a trip into the past for Teri Orr.