In almost 30 years of living here, I had never seen Happy Valley pass by so quickly.
I was going over 100 mph down Interstate 70.
I could say it was fun, or it was cool, feeling the power and handling capabilities of my electric sports car as it hummed quietly yet efficiently down the asphalt-covered autobahn.
But to be honest, I was hardly even aware of my speed, for sitting next to me was a hyperventilating and damn near screaming high school freshman holding his head as if his brains were about to shoot out through the closest orifice it could find.
Two other freshmen were sitting in the back seat, tightly gripping whatever they could, snapping looks to one another as if to say, “Is this cool, or should we be scared to death?”
Thoughts of being chased by Vail Police rushed through my mind, but I discounted the possibility, quickly deciding to deal with it only if it became a reality.
I flew into the Vail Valley Medical Center emergency room entryway, screeching to a halt in front of two Vail police officers who just happened to be in the parking lot.
Timing is everything.
The boys jumped out and ran through the door, my son shouting he could no longer feel his fingers or toes, his head exploding with pain, along with my heart.
I reversed, parked and ran to join them with one nurse asking me to sign something as I rushed through the door, another taking my son to a bed and another saying Dr. Adnan was on his way.
Their efficiency was amazing, and comforting as well, given the circumstances.
Then the options and probabilities began to take their mental toll. Did he have a tumor? An aneurysm? What if …? No, I couldn’t allow myself to even begin thinking that way. His mom was playing in a tennis tournament over in Aspen. Should I call her now or wait until we have some sort of test results?
An IV was inserted, blood drawn, pain medication injected, along with anti-nausea medicine, and within minutes he was taken for a CT scan.
The young man was certainly scared, but without a lifetime of experience witnessing the best and the worst of possible outcomes, not nearly as scared as his father.
Or so I hoped.
He had spent the previous few hours in preseason physical testing at the Vail Ski & Snowboard Academy. On the very last test of the day — box jumping for 60 seconds — he had jumped off the box screaming and holding his head as if something had just exploded on the inside. With many thanks to his coaches, the joint decision had been quickly made to rush him to the hospital, just in case.
In less than 20 minutes we had the test results and the most likely culprit — an extreme shortage of dihydrogen monoxide.
Hyperbole? Yes, but I’ll take a severe case of dehydration over a brain tumor any day.
Suffice it to say, I could not be more grateful to the staff at Vail Valley Medical Center. They delivered all three of our boys over the years (26, 22 and 14), and along with my two vasectomies in 1999 (long story, don’t ask), have never disappointed.
Either way, I hope to continue watching Happy Valley pass by at a reasonable speed, as life’s too short to go by that fast.
Richard Carnes, of Edwards, writes weekly. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.