The concussion

Both Miracle and I have hit our heads whilst living in our bus. It’s a part of life, I suppose. We’ve heard the rumors that the number one injury in the navy is bonking your head on the low doorways and we figured we still have it more comfortable than those making their lives underwater. Still. The sound of Miracle’s crown crunching against the doorframe of the bus, the way the entire vehicle shook or the way her eyes seemed to vibrate afterward—was sickening. 

We were camped out in Cisco, a sort of modern ghost town—a swath of land littered with sheds and dilapidated buildings, a post office that might have also been an art installation, a bus with a giant plywood snake which definitely was an art installation, and of course, our home for the night, Buzzard’s Belly General Store. (The store itself is a trip. The woman who ran the place was super nice and was extraordinarily kind.) Miracle found Buzzard’s Belly via Harvest Hosts and assured me that it was just north of Moab, our intended destination for the next few days. And north it was. By 47 miles. Which, is actually “just” north by Western standards. The drive out was beautiful—a ride along the Colorado river through sandstone canyons that falter into a pan with cliffs and pillars and mesas on every horizon. The path carves through some ranches where horses run in unnaturally green fields and that turns almost instantly into a parchment and white desert. Just before the train tracks, you turn left and there’s Cisco. Meanwhile the silver Amtrack chugged along, the silhouetted figures inside pointing and waving at the VW watching them—bygone modes of transportation admiring themselves in a bygone town. 

Cisco, as we learned from our Harvest Host was a film location for Thelma and Louise as well as the final scenes in Vanishing Point.

We sat outside and watched the sun set and the stars pop out. When it got cold, we went into the bus and that’s when Miracle blasted her head against the doorframe. Ice. Look at her eyes. Ask some basic questions. She was woozy, but her speech made sense. Slow, but not slurred. She said she wanted to sleep and I knew it was a normal, but dangerous reaction. We talked briefly about driving back to Moab to find an ER. Suddenly, in the dark, the drive along the Colorado—a route littered with shoebox sized stones from rockslides, the narrow road with a jagged face on one side and a precipitous drop into the river on the other—seemed more perilous. More ice. Ibuprofen. We were staying put for the night, staying awake for a few more hours at least. 

I woke before Miracle. Neither of us slept well; me waking every so often to check on her, she in so much pain and interrupted by my checking on her. After a slow morning and several conversations where she drifted off in listless thought, I determined we would indeed be going to the Urgent Care (because of the uniquely American issue of health insurance, the ER was an extreme—and last—resort). The drive back was less enticing. The bus needed to go faster and the roads needed to be smoother. One truck (always a truck, folks) passed on a double yellow and nearly clipped us when he tucked back in to avoid the head-on collision he nearly created. 

Because we had Jolene, I had to stay in the bus while Miracle went in by herself. The doctor, she said later, was incredibly nice. They wanted to run a CT, but, again, the health insurance was a major hurdle and the doctor made us promise we would stay in town for the next couple days and if any symptoms—speech, vision, movement, memory, mood—changed at all, even the slightest bit, we would return. 

The problem is Moab is not the sleepy mountain bike town I remember. It is wall-to-wall people. Honda off-road vehicles outnumber any other vehicle, so now it looks like a rat-rodded Florida retirement village. A cheap hotel was $300. We then decided we would try what one of the locals called the “local fleabag.” It was $150. Given the incoming bill from the Urgent Care, we needed to watch funds. Most of the camping sites are outside of town and out of cell range. Finally we found an RV park with one site left. We took it for $33. 

Miracle slept the rest of the day and well into the next morning. I checked on her periodically and slowly—way too slowly—the pain abated and she seemed more like herself. 

We are fortunate. Even though our insurance is fairly ridiculous, many of the gig folks we meet, many of the remote workers, have no insurance at all. Any truck that might clip them on some backroad could land them in serious permanent debt on top of whatever bodily harm they sustained. I’ve broadcast my love for the country of Switzerland on this blog before and I’ll broadcast it again. Our healthcare is supplied by the Jan Michalski Foundation of Switzerland. In any other developed country on this planet, we would not have had to make some of the healthcare choices we made this week, but at least we had options thanks to our friends in Europe.

There is a sequel to this post about a kind soul and generous human named Terry. More on our time with him in my Moab post next week.

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