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Birthday party moves to ER

I had counted for days. As organizer of a birthday gathering in Castle Valley, Utah, I ticked off names, allowed for bailouts, and hit the amounts of food and beer dead on. I just underestimated the number of trips to the ER: three. And the last one took the cake.Good things happened, too. We had blue skies and 80-degree temps, at least on Saturday. My husband, Mike, and our friend Jim climbed a tower, reveling.The only problem was that they came down to find Jim’s younger son waiting unusually quietly, one arm held motionless. He’d fallen while playing on a fence at a friend’s. At which point Jim remembered that he hadn’t, strictly speaking, mentioned to his wife (who was away) that he’d be leaving Griffin with their friends overnight, facilitating an early start.Griffin, 7, was bundled off to the campsite of a doctor friend, Kim, who slung the arm and recommended an X-ray in the morning. The arm would indeed prove to be fractured.”He’s fine now,” observed Jim at the dinner, watching his son race around. “But on Monday” – a school day – “suddenly it’ll really hurt.”It was a night with old friends and young kids, from everywhere and of every hue. When my friend Lisa pointed out one of her daughters to someone as “a little Cambodian girl,” the guy laughed and said, “You’re going to have to give me a little more information.” Present were six children adopted from Cambodia, and one from the Marshall Islands, though missing was a set of 18-month-old twins from Guatemala and their new mother, Annette. Everyone brought food; a dog stepped on one cake.Though Sunday started out rainy, Mike and I, our friends Paula and Julia, and five boys went mountain biking, a delightful ride until the moment Paula slipped and whacked her chin.With Jim at a hospital with Griffin, Mike and I were to drive his other son, Carson, home. However, given Paula’s profuse bleeding (she would receive 12 stitches) and jaw pain, I rode with her, periodically trying to reach Jim and Mike to figure out how to return everybody home from our respective ERs.The final chapter I found out about the next day. Annette had arrived and set up camp, though, mistakenly, in the next campground over. Feeling ill, she slept in her van, to prevent contagion; her nanny, Luz Dary, and the twins occupied the tent. In the night, Annette woke gasping, hyperventilating and certain that if she went back to sleep, it would be forever.She staggered to a nearby tent, woke someone, and asked him to take her to the hospital in Moab, 20 miles away. The stranger, Noah, responded kindly and promptly.Annette was diagnosed with pneumonia, given antibiotics, and asked to stay near; but with not one motel room available, someone found her an out-of-the-way bed in the ER. Then a rollover occurred pre-dawn on highway 70, and when the injured began arriving, Annette was awakened and, groggy, evicted.Meanwhile, Luz Dary, who primarily speaks Spanish, had never camped before, and was fearful of camping in America, awoke early with the twins and a van she had never driven – nor had she ever used an automatic transmission. She could get no cell service (it’s generally unavailable in Castle Valley). Luz Dary actually thought to climb a tree, and reached her husband, in Michigan, who talked her through the driving process. She packed up the twins, tent, sleeping bags, camp chairs, and piles of jackets and hats, and arrived at the ER just as Annette was turned out.I stopped by to see Annette later that week, and asked Luz Dary how high the tree had been. She pointed to a landing 15 feet up. I don’t even know how she found a tree that big in Castle Valley. I do know that necessity met the nanny of invention.Alison Osius lives in Carbondale and can be reached at aosius@hotmail.com.


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