Another Ten Seconds
Chapter 2: Doctor Bob's Gift
by Jeff Rand
John felt extremely weak as he struggled to open his eyes. It took many seconds to muster enough strength to lift the eyelids, only to find the irises reluctant to make their adjustment. Eventually, he became aware of a dim haze that permeated his environment.
Making matters worse, in his current state it was impossible to make even the slightest movement with the rest of his body. His extremities were completely unresponsive to any desire for action. He could not be sure if he was constrained or simply just too weak to move, perhaps both. The struggle continued for what he interpreted as several minutes, before he resigned himself to this immobility.
As with his eyesight, his other senses were also diminished. He felt warm and sticky, but could not determine if he had any covering at all. Undoubtedly in this weakened state, he was in a prone position. The damp air offered no hint of odor, but his ears sensed a dull hum and what he believed to be a hissing sound.
Presently, he became aware that his mouth and nose were covered. Again, his diminished state did not offer him any ability to have more than a vague sense of this situation.
As he lay in complete paralysis, he could only hope for rescue. He wanted someone to tell him what had happened.
"John. John, wake up!"
John opened his eyes to see Doctor Bob standing at his bedside. He was lying in his bunk back in the familiar surroundings of Clearwater Cabin.
Doctor Robert Hartwig was the unofficial Winter Camp physician, although his normal medical practice involved gynecology. He usually did not get involved in Winter Camp first aid cases and let others have their hand in enforcing health and safety matters. Winter Camp was to him, like for so many others, a vacation from the routine. Having only fifteen weeks vacation annually, he was not about to take "a busman's holiday" and get involved in medical work if it wasn't absolutely necessary.
Doctor Bob was considered a local, as he moved to Lapeer to start his practice shortly after graduating from medical school. Besides his private practice, he joined the staff at Lapeer Hospital. His reputation grew and five years ago he was appointed chief of medicine at the hospital. Although the hospital demanded much of his time, he continues to operate a private office with a pediatrician just south of town. Doctor Bob's involvement in Scouting differs from many of the Winter Camp participants, because he is a member of the Executive Board of the Tall Pine Council.
"What happened?" asked John.
"You gave us a bit of a scare when you fainted during the Tower of Babel Olympics," said Dr. Bob. "You were unconscious for over six hours and missed the afternoon events and dinner."
"Alex! Where is Alex?" inquired John adding a sense of urgency to the question.
"Oh, I'm afraid he didn't win the sword fight," said Dr. Bob.
"What about his fall?"
"Well you know Alex is pretty good-sized man. He was a bit of strain on the bungy cord. I think he might have hurt himself if he hadn't swung out in skydiver fashion. I think the top of his helmet just brushed the ground as the cord reached its fullest extent. Of course, he sprang back up and bounced several times before the cord reached equilibrium. I think it was an exciting moment for all of us."
Dr. Bob continued, "You know it was a good thing that Dickson won the match. I don't think any of us on the ground realized that he had failed to attach his bungy cord. His fall would not have been arrested and the results more disastrous. I'm afraid we would have had to interrupt the Winter Camp schedule for viewing hours over at Oakley's Funeral Home."
"Oh, thank goodness no one was hurt," sighed John. "You know I was sure that Dickson's rope had been cut."
"It sure did appear that way to us observers, but to his good fortune a few fibers remained and allowed him the victory. We had to replace the rope, which angered Jeff at having two ropes destroyed in a single match. Dr. Beast threw a couple of dollars at him to shut him up."
Dr. Bob cleared his throat and began his discourse.
Unfortunately there was more of a mishap later in the event. One of our newcomers got a little too competitive during archery. Perhaps we should have been a little more careful in choosing the players in this round. Doug Horn was chosen to represent the Green Tongues and his grandfather, Roger was the selection of the Yellow Tongues. Now the Green Tongues had acquired the nickname 'Sharp Tongues' and Doug was quick to fit this definition when he shouted 'Yellow Wimp' at Roger.
Doug, as you know, is nothing like his easy-going, accommodating father, Ken. He was out to win no matter what the consequences. And we know his grandfather is not the type to go easy on an opponent, grandson or not. I have experienced one or two soccer bruises to prove this point.
Doug and Roger were on the top platform of the tower shooting down the elevator shafts at moving targets. Thinking it would give him a competitive advantage, Doug refused to wear gloves, even with temperatures in the single digits. Both he and Roger did well on the first three rounds.
Doug became increasingly careless on the fourth round, and I suspect the cold had diminished the effectiveness of his grip. He drew an arrow, and lost hold of the string before taking aim. The arrow shot clear across the platform and hit Jack Conroy, who was waiting his turn as the player for the Red Tongues.
Jack was hit in the left eye and stopped the arrow with the hard skull bone forming the back of his eye socket. Blood poured down his face and he fell to the platform in excruciating pain.
Mark Hunt was the first on the scene and was shocked to see an empty eye socket. He immediately stuffed gauze in the hole to stop the bleeding. Poor Jack lay dazed on the platform.
A frenzied search commenced on and around the tower, but no one had actually seen the eye fall. I suspect it was ground into the snow by the stampede of Winter Campers.
Reluctantly, I announced the need for further medical attention and Jack was lowered to the ground to be taken to Lapeer Hospital in the Pezet ambulance. As he was carried to the waiting vehicle he passed by Ron Donohue.
Dr. Beast feeling a bit guilty about his earlier statement about poking someone's eye out tried to comfort Jack saying, 'Hey Jack, you're my first choice for the wild card slot when we play human poker.'
I'm not sure anyone got the joke at the time.
Jack was admitted to the hospital and went to emergency surgery to repair the damaged optic nerves. The bleeding had mostly subsided thanks to Mark's quick call to action.
When he was in recovery three hours later, I was a bit taken back by his first statement. He informed us that he needed to get back to camp. He had no intention of missing a night of Winter Camp. Unfortunately, he was to spend a night in the hospital. I told him that he would probably be able to return to camp tomorrow and in a couple of weeks he would be fitted with a prosthetic which would make him as good as new.
Not since Steve Donohue's emergency surgery when I was just a med student have I seen such motivation not to miss a night of camp.
John thought back to the incident at Winter Camp 32. It was the first night of camp and Steve complained of severe abdominal pains. When the pain increased, second year medical student Bob Hartwig suggested that he be taken to the hospital. Steve was in no position to object and was admitted at 10:01 p.m. It was of course, then too late to call his mother. He was diagnosed with gall bladder complications and sedated. When he woke in the middle of the night and realized where he was, he immediately called John's cell phone. Having been asleep less than half an hour, a groggy John Howey refused his request to bring him back to camp that night.
Early the next morning Steve had emergency surgery and by mid afternoon was back in his room awake. The attending physician informed him that he would have to stay another three or four days to monitor his recovery and control infection. Perhaps he would be spending New Year's Eve in the hospital. Steve became livid and demanded that he be released before the night was over. He knew he was now tied for the leadership in most nights attending Winter Camp and under no circumstance would he settle for second place. He would be dead first. Unfortunately, the attending physician refused his plea for early release and sedated him again lest he become more irrational.
Steve managed to maintain a degree of consciousness and after the room was cleared made a quick call to John. John came to the hospital shortly after 9:00 p.m. posing as a pizza delivery boy for Bollmano's Pizza. Apparently the hospital attendant was too involved in a phone call to question the visit or phony pizza parlor name. On John's suggestion, Steve signed a note absolving the hospital of any responsibility for any complications and indicated that he had checked himself out. John put Steve on a gurney and wheeled him to an emergency exit where Lou Pezet and vehicle were waiting. Henceforth, no matter what vehicle Lou was driving, it was called "The Ambulance."
Steve was set up in the Lang Cabin where round the clock assistance helped him recover enough to participate in the regular events by the last evening in camp.
As John's thoughts returned to the present, Dr. Bob suggested that he return to the activities in the Beaver Creek Building. As he was getting up, the cabin door opened to allow Charles Powell and Christopher Jordan entrance to the building.
"We brought you something," said Christopher.
It was a warm danish and John gladly accepted this treat and ate it.
"I made it during our baking session. Baking is a mandatory requirement to earn my Winter Camp participation patch," said Christopher.
"It's delicious," said John, "but isn't baking scheduled for later this evening."
"It was," said Christopher, "but we changed the schedule on account of what happened to Jack. Steve thought we should postpone the Blind Hike. And we won't be serving sheep's eyeballs with the Gruesome Snack either."
"What sacrilege!" shouted John, "Imagine if we weren't to do a blind hike. The world would surely end!"
"I don't know about that," said Christopher, "And I did want to tell you that I was born in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. I don't remember anything about it, because my parent's were circus performers at the time."
"Thank you boys. I want to have a word with Dr. Bob before we join you in the BC Building," said John. As the boys left he turned to Dr. Bob. "Bob, was I taken to the hospital this afternoon?"
"No, you've been here all day."
"Are you sure?" said John.
"I would know if you went to the hospital. I am chief of medicine after all."
"Well, then was I fitted with Steve's Vader box by any chance?" asked John.
"No, you were asleep here in your bunk without any special equipment," said Dr. Bob.
"I had a very strange experience and woke up confined to a dim room with something covering my mouth and nose."
"I'm sure it was just a dream," said Dr. Bob.
"Oh, it was real. I've never been aware of thinking in a dream. And I could feel and hear, as well."
"Again, I think your subconscious was in a heightened state resulting from you fainting spell. Now let's go join the Bakery Snack."
Dr. Bob and John entered the BC Building where the entire group had gathered to enjoy a full array of fresh baked breads. Besides the normal fare of white and dark breads, two specialties were offered for Winter Camp 54. Hanging high in the rafters were several loaves to commemorate the famous tale of Jack in the Beanstalk. These loaves were baked using bone meal and leavening. The second specialty was this year's ethnic choice, Greek bread.
The Greek bread was placed in large baskets and distributed among the campers. Steve Clark advised caution as this was Easter bread and one should expect to find boiled eggs and other objects imbedded in the loaves. Indeed, a fair number of Winter Camp coins had been added to the batter.
No beverage had been provided with this snack and the campers soon learned that coins would provide access to the soda pop machine. These shiny coins worked well in the machine and were the result of many years effort to establish the Winter Camp mint. When they made their debut ten years ago, Mark Hunt gave up his long held hobby of Jell-O mold collecting in favor of numismatics.
Doug Horn sat near the corner of the room being somewhat subdued following the unfortunate accident with Jack. It was the unofficial Winter Camp archivist Mark Bollman, who approached Doug and presented him with a piece of Greek bread. Doug, in an attempt to regain his spirit, asked Mark if this bread had been buried in the time capsule. Mark was silent.
As Doug bit into the bread, his teeth encountered a hard object. It was a bunch of size 10 Czech seed beads. He cleaned the crumbs away and to his surprise found his very own beaded name badge. There were some in the room who had waited two generations for this occasion.
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