Camp & Stitches

(This trip actually happened the last week of June…)

The title of this post sounds like a hipster housewares store in Brooklyn. Anyway.

This summer we went up to the Estes Park YMCA for a week and stayed in one of their cabins.  If you live in Colorado (or even if you don’t) it’s a great place to stay for a visit. We’ve never stayed in the lodges, the reviews aren’t so great on those, but the cabins are simple and spartan and just great for a little time away without feeling like you’re really roughing it. Every time we drive in and pass the yurts  and tepees Eric says something like, “Wouldn’t it be so great to stay in those one time?” Personally, I prefer to be closer to warm running water and doors between me and the bears.  (Side note-according to the rangers, there are only about 35 bears in all of RMNP! They say that they have names for them all and know their behavior.)

The first night we camped so it’d be easier to get the kids to their daycamp in the morning.

snacking by the fire

snacking by the fire

It was so pretty I thought we could get a nice picture of us and the girl.


so much for that

And look! Eric singlehandedly increased the bear population to 36!

The kids were in camp all week, which left Eric and I time to do fun grownup things like hiking, and road biking, and mountain biking, and drinking beer at lunchtime.


So many beautiful wildflowers (and some invasives) along the path






Wednesday evening, I was sitting outside the cabin reading a book and had just gone in to start dinner when I heard the girl yell “Brother hurt himself!” I went outside and found the boy at the bottom of a tree, with blood streaming down his shirt and face.  He was screaming, too, which immediately calmed me down.  My general feeling is if my kids are screaming in pain, well, they’re not a) dead or b)unconscious, so whatever it is is probably fixable.  He was able to get up and walk over to the cabin (ruled out broken legs, arms, good).  His chin was split open and he was complaining of not being able to open his jaw. A branch had broken in a tree he’d been climbing and he’d tumbled 7 feet or so to the ground.

As a medical person, it’s surreal when it’s your own kids or family that gets hurt.  I mean, you’re supposed to know what the right thing to do is, but it’s impossible to really be objective.  Most medical people I know downplay any injury their kid has-I’ve known parents that thought their kid was fine when they had a broken nose, or even a broken arm or something.  Part of it is that so many parents freak out when their kid has something minor that you get somewhat immune to it.  So he’s screaming, I murmur something about maybe needing stitches, which only made him scream louder ” NO STITCHES!! NO STITCHES!! CALL 911!! CALL 911!!”  Eric stared at me and said, “You’re the doctor! What do we do?”

I hesitated to have us take him to the ER, but what turned my mind was that he’d fallen into dirt and the wound needed to be cleaned. In hindsight, this was completely idiotic and he clearly needed care, but that’s what did it at the time.  On the way over he kept screaming and whimpering. The folks at the Estes Park Med Center were just wonderful-they got us in quickly and most gratefully, gave the boy some Versed.  This was fun as he kept asking what was wrong with his chin every 5 minutes. Because he couldn’t open his jaw, they did a CT of his face and found that he had a nondisplaced jaw  fracture. He ended up with eight stitches in his chin and a liquid diet.

Eight stitches!

Eight stitches!

The next morning, we bought a bunch of smoothies for him, gave him a couple ibuprofen and sent him back to day camp. I mean, he was walking around, clearly not feeling bad, and Eric and I had massages scheduled for our anniversary. The best part of this story is I ran his case by a maxillofacial surgeon at work who casually said something like, “Well, he’s 7 so it’s fine for now, but it could have damaged the growth plate. So when he starts going through puberty, watch and see if his face starts growing asymmetrically and then he might need a corrective procedure.” Fantastic.  So I’m going to start staring at his face obsessively when he turns about 11 or so and won’t stop for the next 10 years.

The last day we all went for a short hike before packing up and heading home.


 The boy’s chin has healed up fine, as has his jaw after a few weeks of soft food.  One of saddest things was watching him use his lower teeth to scrape a carrot to eat, saying, “I just miss carrots so much.”

Overall, a great trip that I think we’ll do every year as far as we’re able! Without the ER trip this time, I hope.

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