Last Saturday, 7/7/07, I did a few chores and proceeded to take my daughter Virginia on a road trip to a little town just past Lafayette, Indiana. I intended to attend the open house of the Monon Railroad club. Those chores are one of many factors that saved my life.
I stopped and got some Burger King, since I was running late... ate, and was on the road. Unknown to me at the time, this triggered my Gall bladder to release bile, along with a GallStone... leading to Pancreatitis.
At the time, the first clue was general discomfort.... riding a new car for the first time alone with my daughter on a trip out of town might have just made me nervous... but I took the necessary measure of descretion, and pulled off at Route 2... just to take a break. This was about 15 miles past the area I've lived in since I was born... so I know the general area, but not the streets. Being this far from home and ill wasn't a pleasant mix.
It got worse... so I bought some Naproxen, to help the pain. Then the symptoms changed, and got worse... I now felt like I had been kicked in the right side... I'm no doctor... but I knew immedately something was wrong... and called my wife Noran (an ER nurse with 20 years experience). She told me to head to the nearest hospital. (St Anthony's in Crown Point).
I started heading there... symptoms getting worse as time progressed (sweating heavily when the AC is on MAX is a bad sign!) Noran called me back because she was concerned about the tone in my voice on the call... and it kept nagging her. I told her about my new symptoms, her suspicions were confirmed and she told me "try to call 911 and call me back afterwards".
I quickly did... waited for what seemed like an eternity waiting to be transfered to the correct authorities on a cell phone. Once the details were exchanged, I was told to pull over, and wait for an ambulance.. and I did. They arrived quickly... were very professional and helpful, along with the police. They took Virginia, got her in the ambulance with me, and got our belongings secured for us while the paramedics did their work on me.
They did an EKG, which quickly ruled out heart issues... and relieved much of my fear... but not the pain. Thank Mr Morphine for that one. With the car secure, Virginia well cared for in my presence, the trip seemed to go very quickly.
Noran was working at the same time, despite inaccurate and quite rattling information(1)(2)(3), she managed to keep calm, and get in touch with my Parents, who volunteered to meet us at the hospital and take care of Virginia. She also got in touch with her sister Carrie, who has graciously taken charge of our daughter for the duration of my recovery.
The doctors, nurses, paramedics, and staff were quite competent, friendly, and assuring as the took me and Virginia into their care. My parents arrived quickly, and managed Virginia... feeding, amusing, comforting, and controlling her... they even changed her diaper!
Noran was stuck at work because of a staff shortage at her ER. Even so... I'll never be able to make her understand just how much she did... and how much I appreciate her being there to pull it all together for me. She feels otherwise because she didn't just abandon her work... but they truly needed her as well. She made excellent use of the resources available!
When she was able to get to my side... she took care of dealing with everything. My dad took her car home... she and my mom took Virginia to pick up our car, and then got Virginia to Carries. She arranged for the team of doctors to perform the surgery on me... and got me transferred by ambulance to her hospital where it would happen.
The doctors and staff of the transfer team, the hospital, and everyone since then has been wonderful.
My company has come through for me as well... being a small private company, the family atmosphere is something that I've come to value greatly in recent years... it's proven it's value again... there's great security in knowing that I just have to focus on my recovery.
My friend Jim is helping to cover for me in the event of something drastic going wrong at work...
It's very, VERY comforting to know and value the relationships I have... I'm a very lucky man indeed.
One of the spiritual care staff said "it's what you do with the wake up call that counts"... I for one will more greatly treasure the great bounty set before me....
Thank you for your time, and support as well.
(1) - The police told her that she needed to come to the scene immediately and get our car and daughter - wrong on both counts
(2) - The police in a later call told her that she didn't need to worry about the car.. and arrived to find Hoosier helpers watching the car, but ready to tow it in about an hour.
(3) - Being told that DCFS would be called to take our daughter at the hospital - when no such action was customary, or expected.