Wow...what a start to my planned 9 months on the road before returning to Kentucky. It was supposed to be 9 months NOT 11 days and certainly not 4 hospitals and only 3 campgrounds.
The day after I arrived in Michigan I became ill. At the time I thought it was intestinal flu. Now, I think it was the first signal my body gave me of a more serious issue. Hospital #1 was mostly a general checkup and getting fluids back into me.
View from my bed at hospital #3 over Lake Michigan at Petoskey, MI
When I became ill I found I was excellent at making lousy decisions including not knowing when to go to a hospital. Having always been very healthy I was good at making excuses and was very poor at self-diagnosis. God apparently figured I needed some help and surrounded me with angels to protect me against myself!
Angel Bill. (he's promised me a photo). After I left hospital #1, I went to a primitive campground in the middle of nowhere that had no internet unless I drove to a very specific spot and pointed my phone in a very specific direction. It was a beautiful location for quiet walks and healing from my illness but I couldn’t have called 911!!
I was very surprised to find a primitive campground with a camp host. Bill, joined by his father and son, has been camping here since he was 5 years old. We hit it off finding similarities in our backgrounds and his local knowledge very interesting. He and his dog would walk by my campsite, that was isolated and completely out of sight of any other campers, several times a day. I knew that I could have knocked on his door in the middle of the night and he would have helped me. I told of him of my illness and he realized I wasn’t improving and gave me guidance on which hospital I should go to. I figured I was in serious trouble when I was wiping road dirt off my car and Casita and found myself gasping for breath but I didn't stop until the job was done. I made excuses until I could no longer do so.
Angel Joe (see photo on right). I set my GPS for McLaren Hospital, #2, not realizing I had chosen a satellite location that was an emergency center but not the main hospital. When I figured it out I sat in their parking lot for 30 minutes trying to decide whether to go in or drive the 43 miles to the other location. I finally realized how how illogical that was and went in. After many tests I was told I had blood clots in both lungs, fluid in one, sky-high blood pressure, was in Afib and was at very high risk of a heart attack or stroke. I chewed aspirin and listened to a doctor tell me the resuscitation and tube feeding policies. I wasn’t going anywhere except by ambulance to McLaren Hospital, #3, in Petoskey.
What about my Josie Cat???? I couldn’t leave her! But before I could panic staff had put out the word and Joe walked into my life. He said he would take care of everything. We talked and I learned he was a security guard for McLarin, a retired police office, due to an injury, and was now a wildlife artist who also enjoyed sketching friend’s pets. I handed him my car and camper keys and told him about Josie. Throughout the next days he kept me up to date through texts. I missed Josie but never worried.
Angel Facebook friends. I was receiving many posts and emails from friends saying they were praying for me and wishing me best. Hospital staff commented how sad that I was alone and it made me realize that I wasn’t! My room was full of Friends from relatives I haven’t seen since I was a teenager, to my Dubuque friends, to FB friends from other states that I have met and traveled with, to Kentucky friends both met and unmet. Your comments and prayers meant the world to me and my room was jammed packed full of all of you! Most of you probably have no idea how much a simple post or "like" can mean.
Angel roomies. Two of my three roommates were delightful. It was like having a PJ party with our bottoms hanging out of our gowns. With threats of photos we had lots of fun as well as sharing the more poignant times of our lives. We were angels to each other. I could only try to be an angel to the 3rd and the best I could do was to put deodorant on her underarm when she could not.
Caregiving Angels. Although it is their job this group of happy employees at McLaren Hospital stopped and chatted and went above and beyond what you normally experience at a hospital. No one was ever in a hurry! As patient numbers swell during tourist season the hospital offers double pay for short-term staff so they are never over-whelmed and under-staffed. Kudos to McLaren Hospital for putting staff and patients ahead of the bottom line.
Angels Don and Michelle who made a 24 hour round-trip drive to get me back to Kentucky. I also count as angels Dan and Pat who offered to make the drive. Instead of angels in white we had a white caravan!
In Lexington, the next morning I went to emergency room #4 to get blood work done as on a weekend there isn't really anywhere else to go. But, when you say to the receptionist, "whew, I'm a little short of breath" you find yourself with a trauma team, getting an EKG and being drained of more blood within 10 minutes.
Angels brother, Sant, and daughter, Erin, with lots of phone time as I gave them updates and they offered support and comfort. I'm now at at my brother's house AGAIN until I am released to travel. I am thankful for their company and my location! It will be awhile before I am in the road again. I have a cardiologist, hematologist, gastrointologist and primary care physician. We agree, although it is much guesswork, that untreated Essential Thrombocythemia, causing my body to produce too many platelets, caused embolisms (clots) that went to both lungs and possibly my spleen. That put my heart under tremendous stress and has put me in Afib. And, somewhere along the way I got several peptic ulcers. Until then, I can walk and swim but can't raise my heart rate. I guess I no longer have an excuse not to catch up on my photos!
Two days ago I did find myself in Emergency Room #5! The good news it wasn't for me!! The bad news was my nephew tore a tendon, which took some pelvic bone with it during the first moments of the season opener soccer match. He's on crutches for a month and can't do anything! We make quite the pair!!
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Note: the convenient swimming pool and hammock.......hot tub not shown. Also not shown is the large yard good for gentle walking with Josie.