Fracture Friday: David DiCicco’s unscheduled flight to Denver
“What is your name? Who is the President? Where are you?“
“‘Why are you asking these questions,“ I thought as I was loaded onto the ski patrol sled. Unfortunately, I couldn’t answer any of them as we began our descent down the Naked Lady trail to the Snowmass clinic, where an ambulance was waiting.
There were more questions once I was in the ambulance. I almost got the one about “where you were“ when I answered, ”in a ski area.” The paramedic asked me which one, and I thought maybe Montana, but I remained silent.
By the time we reached Aspen Valley Community Hospital, I was beginning to remember things, but I had no idea what had happened to me. My wife Vicki was there, and she told me I had collided with another skier as I was skiing from the Alpine Springs chair to the beginning of Naked Lady Trail. I was unconscious for more than ten minutes.
The senior man who hit me (I am 81) was unhurt, and he volunteered to ski down with his wife and alert the ski patrol. We did not get his name or phone number in the heat of the moment, and he was gone.
In the emergency room, Dr. Frank ordered a brain scan. Looking at the results, which showed a severe brain bleed, she strongly recommended I fly to St. Anthony’s hospital in Denver, where there was a Neuro I.C.U. There was no room in the helicopter for my wife, Vicki, so we decided she would stay at our hotel in Snowmass for the night, check out the next day, and drive to Denver.
The ride over the Rockies only took about 45 minutes. I realized I could die from the injury during the ride, though it all seemed surreal. I was lying on the floor next to the pilot, and now and then, I would raise myself to look out the window. Things had been so confusing and happened so fast that I hadn’t been able to take stock of the situation.
At the hospital, I went straight to an I.C.U. room where they began monitoring my vitals. My Russian nurse Olga was very kind and attentive. Since surgery was a possibility, I couldn’t eat or drink water. Over the next five days, I had multiple scans to assess the bleeding in my brain. Vicki arrived on day two, and she was allowed in my room.
The decision was made at some point to give me platelets to try to clot the bleeding. I was also on anti-seizure medications. These treatments worked, and the bleeding stopped.
After discharge, we took a rest day in a local hotel since I was exhausted. The hospital staff had been excellent, but hospitals are not a place to rest. After our rest day, Vicki drove home to San Diego. We spent two nights on the road.
For the first couple of weeks after arriving home, I was exhausted. I napped at least one time a day. I had no after-effects of the brain injury, as far as I could tell. A recent scan revealed significant healing.
Ironically, I am very cautious on the slopes. I always stop at the side of trails or behind trees. This was a fluke accident. I will never know exactly what happened. Vicki was skiing behind a tree when the collision occurred. We had three weeks of terrific skiing before the crash. We will be back next year.
TELL US YOUR STORY
Injuries are a common topic in mountain communities. We tend to push ourselves to the point of having them. If you have an on-mountain or sports-related injury, we want you to share the story of your injury, recovery and redemption (and if you’re currently injured, we want to hear your plans for the last two).
To read more Fracture Friday stories and to share yours, visit VailDaily.com/FractureFridays. And be sure to check the paper every Friday for the latest Fracture Friday.