Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Went to Gatlinburg this past weekend, as mentioned in an earlier post. On last year's trip, my friend Leigh hurt her knee rather badly, and we hoped that this aspect of our trip would not be repeated. Unfortunately, it was. And we can thank ME for that.

Friday was full of drunken revelry, other types of revelry, playing pool and goofing off in the hot tub, beginning in the early evening and ending in the wee hours of the morning. Saturday, we woke up (relatively) early and went skiing. It snowed a whole bunch, which was nice, but got cold and icy towards the afternoon.

About 1/2 an hour before our lift passes ran out, I went down the easy, but semi-icy trail, and wiped out really fast and really hard. I remember doing a face plant in the snow, and tumbling a bit down the slope from my skis. Falling isn't anything new to me, so that in itself wasn't a big deal. I got up, put on my skis, and hobbled inside to rest. My neck was achy, and I figured I was numb from the cold and just shaken up. Several hours later, however, my neck still hurt, I realized my face and scalp were still numb, and now it was definately not because of the cold. Thus, off to the hospital I went. We got directions from the local police and at that point I realized I wasn't just going to the hospital --- I was going to the hospital off of Dollywood Lane in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

If you've been to Pigeon Forge, you'd understand. Pigeon Forge, in my opinion, tops the tackiest of tacky tourist traps. It makes Seaside Heights and Wildwood, NJ look like wildlife preserves. It makes Gatlinburg, which has airbrush t-shirt shops and old time photo booths on every corner and where popular souveneir items include confederate flag bikinis and safety-orange University of Tennessee doo-rags, seem quaint. Pigeon Forge has, as its main attraction, Dollywood, the Dolly Parton-thematic entertainment/amusement park (ok, I admit, I actually want to go here, just to say I've been). It was also WinterFest when we drove through, meaning that the town is bedecked with animated Christmas light scenes, adding to the retina-searing beauty of it all. The rest of the 10 traffic light stretch of highway is filled with As Seen On TV outlets, lawn ornament shops, motels, pancake houses, and a plethora of dinner show options.

One such option, I learned, is called the Dixie Stampede. The Dixie Stampede is a dinner show with Civil War-thematic battles. However, unlike the real Civil War, at Dixie Stampede, the South wins sometimes. That's right, it's like Medieval Times -- you get seated in the North or South section, then eat small rotisserie chickens with your bare hands while cheering on your section's soldiers to victory. And sometimes the North wins, and sometimes the South wins. Oh, nevermind the historical significance of what it means for the South to win, right?! Good God, I still can't believe something like this is legal, or even exists. Perhaps in the future I will go to it just to see for myself and verify what I've been told. But for now, from what I know, the whole thing is wrong, just SO wrong.

But I digress. I'm off to the hospital, and wondering: Would they have a CT machine? An X-ray machine? A Xerox machine? The wait to be admitted absolutely sucked -- as an example, they called me into their billing office, provided nowhere for me to sit down, and I had to prop my sorry neck-braced self on their ATM/MAC machine while taking care of paperwork. Past the waiting room, however, things went much more smoothly. The doctors, nurses, imaging techs (yes, CT and X-ray machines were present), etc. were awesome and super nice. After a mere five hours in the ER, I was diagnosed with a whiplash-type injury, given a few prescriptions, and sent on my way. At about 3 AM we cruised down the main drag of Pigeon Forge to find a 24 hour pharmacy, picked up my drugs, and went back to the cabin to sit in the hot tub for a bit. (Side note: Directions to the pharmacy were "Traffic Light Zero, near the theatre district"... I never would have considered to refer to the location of the Black Bear Jamboree and Louise Mandrell Theatre as the "theatre district", but so be it)

Long story...continuing, I'm doing alright now. I spent two days totally sedated with Flexaril (a muscle relaxer) and it's helped me recoup. The whole situation really shook me up and scared the shit out of me, but I'm okay. I can't turn my head much, but I'm almost able to lift both arms over my head with no resistance, so yay. Oh yeah, and I can type. A lot. See?


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