Life on the road…..
I would like to start this week by offering my most sincere condolences to my friend Juliann Pick Reynolds in the loss of her father. Even though I have never met Juliann face to face, I consider her a great friend and a special Facebook Family member. She is always upbeat and there is hardly a day go by that she doesn’t post and share something that makes me smile….or laugh my ass off. I’m so sorry for your loss. Maybe today’s story will offer YOU a smile or 2. I would also like to let my son Matthew McClung Whitby know that I am thinking of him…..and tell Amanda I’m sorry for the loss of her aunt…I Love You Matt… Text me your new phone number Butt Head…
OK, now let’s have some fun…
On Wednesday morning I loaded up my camera bag, filled my orange juice thermos, packed my nutria-grain bars, through the bottled water into it’s rack on the bike and headed off into this God forsaken desert for my morning ride. Along the way I met and old brown (everything is brown here) Labrador Retriever who was out for HIS morning walk from one of the nearby homes. We stopped and chatted for a while and he even walked a ways with me and enjoyed some of my breakfast. He was a big fan of the Nutri-Grain bar. When I returned to my little “Home” I sat down in my camp chair with my morning coffee just as I do most mornings and started playing a computer game on my tablet. After about 20 minutes it dawned on me that I did not release 1 drop of sweat during my morning ride. At that very moment I broke into a VERY cold sweat. I tried breathing my way out of it but it was not working. By the time I got inside and was sitting down in my desk chair it felt like an elephant had just decided to share the chair with me. At one point I thought “this room is too small for me AND the elephant so one of us has to go”. Being a “Guy” I had to go through several scenarios before I could actually tell myself that I was about to take a stroll with the grim reaper. After about 20 minutes of denial I decided I wasn’t quite ready to kick the bucket so I drug myself out of the chair and opened my door to see my neighbor working on his rig. All I could say was…”I think I’m having a heart attack”. He went into action immediately and along with other neighbors helped to comfort me as we waited for the ambulance. My breathing had become something right out of a bad horror movie and although my chest was feeling the weight of the entire universe, I could not feel my heart beating.
When the ambulance arrived, the Emergency Techs starting working on me. They got me loaded up, strapped in and ready for the ride to the emergency room. Now we are cruising down a road that is in really bad shape, with plenty of up’s and downs and holes and cracks and….. Believe me folks, an ambulance is not the way to travel on this road when you’re having a heart attack. So the ET says to me “I’ve got to get an IV going so you need to hold still”. That’s when I knew I was not going to die. I grabbed his forearm in a vise like grip and said…”Not on this fucking road”. To which he replied “Don’t worry I do this all the time”, at that point I all but passed out. I remember a short period in the ER when I woke up to a woman shoving a form on a clip board in my face telling me to “sign here”. What’s this I ask?….Her reply caused me to go into a total uncontrollable shaking spasm. “This gives us authorization to do open heart surgery if necessary”
I woke up in the ICU with a nurse standing over me. Since it was a male nurse I knew I had survived….If I had died it would have been a beautiful female nurse wearing nothing but a nurse’s cap. I’m not saying my male nurse wasn’t good looking….just not really into guys that way. So he tells me I am not allowed to move from this position for 12 to 18 hours. He also informs me that a stint was installed in my heart by going up through my groin. He asked me how bad my pain was and I replied “go stand out in the middle of US95…..you’ll find out how bad my pain is soon enough”. So he loaded me up with Dilaudid and the world became a whole new experience. Now I may smoke a little pot occasionally but I have never been into hard drugs or opiates or anything of the sort and I strongly discourage anyone from messing with that stuff. But I gotta say, after what I had just been through, I’m glad I didn’t die just so I could experience this. I could feel all my pain just wash away and stream right out of my body. At that moment I felt like I could jump up and run a marathon.
The ceiling in my room and the Dilaudid became my best friends for 16 hours. At that point my nurse told me someone from the catheter lab would be coming by soon to remove the catheter from my groin and to prepare myself for another round of intense pain. The guy from the lab looked just like Seth Rogen and sounded even more like him. He had to slide a 4 inch long catheter from my artery and then apply intense pressure for twenty minutes to seal it. Damn that HURT. Lucky for me my new friend Dilaudid was there with me. After he was done I had to lay for another 5 hours without a single movement to allow the artery to seal up.
After about 22 hours I was allowed to get up and move around a little. Having eaten some food while laying on my back (Was not even allowed to lift my head), the first thing I did when I stood up was discharge everything that was in my stomach…all over the floor.
On Friday morning…..and after everything I had been through, the most heartbreaking task still lay ahead. Everyone who knows me knows how I feel about my kids. I have spent my entire adult life not only trying to give them a decent role model to follow but also giving them the most unconditional love a parent can ever give a child. Now I have to call and tell them what has happened. By the time I was finished with this task, all the nurses and I were sharing a hell of a good cry. Then we had a hell of a good laugh looking at my original EKG from when I was being worked on in the emergency room. The nurses called it “the tombstone chart”……Hey!….That’s not funny!
By noon on Friday I had decided it was time to say goodbye to my new best friend Dilaudid. I told the nurses I would not be requesting any more pain meds. Even though I still felt like I had been hit by a truck, I knew I had to endure. That SHIT will mess you up….If you need it to recover from an intense surgical procedure….cool….but please don’t play with it…..it’s not a toy folks.
Friday afternoon I was moved to a private room and spent the next 20 hours trying to relax by walking around bugging everyone….I tried to explain my actions by telling folks….”only the best hospitals have a comedian of my caliber roaming the halls and lightening spirits”. When I wasn’t roaming the halls I was watching old black and white westerns on the television. A luxury I don’t often experience since I don’t own a TV.
Now you would think when I was released from the hospital the whole trauma thing would be over….Not a chance! I walked out of CVS Pharmacy $493.00 lighter in the wallet for prescription meds. I have VA health insurance and I’m pretty sure I’ll be reimbursed….But what the hell is wrong with this country….Sorry, I promised myself I would never put my Facebook family through having to listen to my political rantings……But what the HELL! Is wrong with this country.
Tomorrow I am going to drive up to Oatman (Don’t worry girls, it’s only about 10 miles from here) to see if my spot is still available. If it is, I will move my little “home” up there and spend the winter selling my photos to the tourists and befriending a few burros. I will not let this latest adventure slow me down or change my path. I WILL be leaving in the spring to tour the northern states and maybe even come back to Oatman next fall.
The Adventure Continues….