ski patrol finally arrived and got to work, staring with asking a string of questions. i answered, despite a fog that had started settling over my mind.
my name? [ashley white] what were my symptoms? [i can't move my right side. it's completely numb] what was i doing before they started? [just sitting here] had i crashed that day? [no] had i hit my head? [no] was i sure? [yes!] was i hydrated? [yes] had i eaten enough that day? [yes] was i positive i hadn't fallen? [yes, yes i'm sure!] who was i with? [my boyfriend] what's his name? [troy. he should be coming down soon] did i have any preexisting conditions? [just panic attacks]
"okay ashley, this is probably a panic attack then," said one of the medics while another placed an oxygen mask on me and yet another took my vitals.
"no, it's NOT." i said emphatically. "i know what a panic attack feels like. this is NOT just a panic attack. i can't move my right side at all."
"well you are moving it."
i looked down. my arm and hand were moving on their own, but i couldn't even feel it.
"i'm not moving it on purpose…"
where's troy? i kept looking over to my left, searching for his gray jacket.
after more examination: "ashley, we are going to recommend you get to the hospital as soon as possible."
"what is wrong with me?!"
"we don't know, so you need to be examined at the hospital."
"am i having a stroke?"
"no, i don't think so. but you should go get checked out. would you like us to call an ambulance?"
i knew the answer was yes, even though my need for an ambulance meant my condition was more serious than i was willing to accept. this was not something simple, though; i could feel it.
troy finally came into view. he was running toward me, his face painted with worry. man, was i glad to see him. i told him what was happening, and despite his concerned look, he assured me that everything was going to be ok. i wanted to believe him but felt so scared. (he tells me now that he wasn't just saying that to help me calm down, but that he actually felt that i would be fine.)
the ambulance arrived and i was loaded on board. i wanted troy to ride with me, but i braved up and let him take his truck down instead so that he would have a car. the lady inside the ambulance started an IV. searching for somebody to give me answers, i asked her if she knew what was wrong with me. she said she didn't. i don't recall what else she said, but i remember it definitely didn't make me feel better about the situation. i tried to relax and pray. i calmed down a little bit and just focused on the interior of the ambulance and the bouncing and clanking noises caused by the winding road.
we went down the mountain without lights or sirens, so it took about 30 minutes to get to Flagstaff Medical Center. once there, i was rolled on a gurney to one of those curtained "rooms" in the ER. troy got there shortly after and sat next to me, holding my hand and trying to calm me down. i was constantly moving my left side to make sure it still worked. my biggest fear, aside from dying, was that my left side would go out, too, leaving me completely paralyzed. (this fear hung around a while -- about three weeks.)
nurses gathered around me and asked many of the same questions that ski patrol had posed. as i answered them this time around, i noticed that it was difficult to form my thoughts into words. there were times i was trying to talk and would just stop mid-sentence, and then wonder why i had stopped. i also had trouble reading paperwork because the words blurred together.
at the first possible moment, troy closed the curtains and gave me a blessing. i had wanted one back at snowbowl, but there was no time for it. after the blessing, troy told me that he felt very calm about the whole thing, that he knew i would be fine. i grasped on to his hope to fill the gap where mine had almost vanished.