View From The Ridge

View From The Ridge

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Three Ring Circus



When I was a kid living outside of Wilmington, Delaware, Ringling Brothers, Barnum and Bailey would bring their three ring circus into town just about every year.  The first time I remember their coming Mom and Dad took me and my sister to the field where they were getting ready to set up.  We arrived early to see the train arrive and the unloading of the elephants first so they could be used to set up the big circus tent.  It was quite the show watching the elephants raise the main support poles and then the massive tent itself. 

Two days later we went to see the whole shebang all set up and running like clockwork.  It was amazing to see all the wild animals, the freak shows, and the circus acts with clowns galore, trapeze acts, ladies riding white horses around the rings doing all kinds gymnastic moves, something going on in each of the three rings and sometimes in between.  It was hard to keep up with everything going on. 

About three weeks ago I started out  on a journey that resembled a three ring circus.  Sunday, August 23rd I started to feel nauseous and it proceeded to bother me the whole week.  On Friday we went to our Life Group (similar to a care group, home bible study) despite how I felt.  By the time it was over, I was regretting going.  I told Jeri I was ready to go home, I was feeling sicker and was starting to have stomach pain.  After arriving home, it was getting worse and I figured something I ate at dinner was not agreeing with me; i.e. the flaming hot cheetos that I had with my hamburger for dinner.  I drank a glass of warm salt water and got all of that mess out of my system.   I then proceeded to have the shakes where I could not pick any thing up, or drink anything because my body was shaking so bad.  Temperature started at 101.6 and over the next hour went to 103.6, at which point I told Jeri we need to go to the ER because I wasn’t sure what my white blood cell count was. 

So at 11 pm at night I am banging on my neighbors door asking him to drive us to Waimea since Jeri has difficulty driving at night.  Ken never hesitated in graciously agreeing to drive us and so we head for the Waimea hospital arriving right around midnight.  For some reason I cannot do these things during daylight hours in the middle to the week.  It is always late at night on the weekend.  

It also dawns on me that I am supposed to have the Camaro in Hilo that day to have the ignition switch replace under a recall program.  This is the third time I have scheduled it and twice before I had to cancel it because of extenuating circumstances, and now I have to cancel it again.  New appointment is now the 1st of October. 
  
Saturday morning they admit me an did a CT scan, an Ultra-sound – I guess to make sure I wasn’t pregnant – and then later that afternoon they did an MRI.  Insurance company is going to love them.   Bottom line is they found a gallstone blocking the bile duct between the gallbladder and the small intestine, and it was causing an infection which elevated my temperature.  They also discovered more stones in the gallbladder.  Sunday afternoon they did and endoscopy procedure where they run this scope down your throat into your stomach, through the duodenum, into the small intestine and find the bile duct, then up the duct to grab hold of the stone, and drag it out.  Afterwards the doctor says to me “You know, if you don’t have that gallbladder removed, you are just going to continue to have problems.”  Took me all of about two seconds to say let’s get rid of it.  The doctor said he does not do surgery but a Dr. Howard Wong would be doing it and he would see me Monday morning.  Yeah, right!!  Been down that road a few times.  

By Monday at 11 we have not seen hide nor hair of this Dr. Wong, nurses know nothing except that he is in surgery and will come by when he can.  As you all know, I am not a patient person, I have been restricted to nothing by mouth, only saline and anti-biotics, and I am tired of the hospital and especially the bed.

The bed is some new fangled thing that has a tubular air mattress that inflates and deflates starting at your head and working down to your feet.  24/7!  Just about the time you get into a comfortable position, the mattress starts moving in different areas making you uncomfortable.  If you happen to be asleep, it wakes you up.  If you are awake, the motor runs constantly and impedes you going to sleep.  I ask the nurses if they can shut it off and they reply there is a three hour sleep mode but nobody knows how.  Finally someone finds the instructions and puts it on sleep mode, only to have it start up in two hours, not three.  I know why it is only 2 or 3 hours, because every three hours someone is in the room taking vitals, checking blood sugar, drawing blood, etc., etc.   So about two in the morning I have had it with the bed and I unplug it.  Big mistake.  I get all comfortable, go right to sleep and wake up two hours later to a completely deflated mattress.  I am laying on the frame of the bed, the edge of the bed is now 4 or 5 inches higher than before, I have to pee and I can barely get out of the bed.  I ring the nurse, she gets the bed plugged back in, gets me back in bed and I go right to sleep.  

Back to Monday.   The reason I was so upset is that nobody was telling me if I was going to have surgery or when that might happened.  I explained to the nurse that if it was not going to happen on Tuesday, then I wanted to go home until they could make up their minds.  I was not going to spend three or four days on nothing but saline and anti-biotics waiting for surgery.  Been there, done that and it is not fun.

Finally -----  at 5:30 pm the mysterious Dr. Wong shows up at my room.  He apologizes for the delay, explains he had two emergency surgeries’ come in and so everything was backed up.   We talk about what is entailed for the gallbladder removal and he has it scheduled for Tuesday between 2 and 3 pm.  I’m thinking “yeah, I’ve heard that before” but I am just happy to have it scheduled.  

So Tuesday at 2 nobody has shown up to take me to surgery, nor at 3, or even at 4, and not at 5.  I am not a happy camper, nurses tell me he is still in surgery, nothing is happening.  Finally at 5:30 they show up to wheel me into the pre-surgery room.  They tell me this is just a 45 to 60 minute procedure barring complications.  Three hours later they are wheeling me back into the room after two hours of surgery.  Seems it took them 30 minutes to find the gallbladder because of all the scar tissue left behind by the lymphoma cancer in that area.  But, I had very little pain, only hurt when I tried to move or get out of bed or, God forbid, I sneezed.  Those were killers.  They kept me until Thursday afternoon because of the drain tube I had. 

So begins the second ring of the three ring circus.  We have had three hurricanes in the area at the same time, an event that has never happened before.  One went south of us, the other two went north.  No wind, but a ton of rain like the west side of the island has never seen before.  The hurricanes spun off clouds of moisture and when they hit the cool air of the mountains, it is released in buckets.  Monsoon type rain, 1 to 3 inches per hour.  Halfway home we run into this cloud burst where the windshield wipers can’t keep up and there is water running across the roads.  Suddenly the car starts shaking like maybe we have a flat tire.  Terri, our neighbor pulls over but the shaking continues.  We determine that something has gone amiss with the engine, it is pouring down rain outside so we make the decision to nurse it home and worry about it the next day.  

Friday I call Mercedes Benz asking where do I take it to have it worked on since it is still under warranty.  They have me call the Big Island Honda dealer and they tell me that they have a Mercedes service technician fly over from Honolulu once or twice a month to do warranty work, September is already booked and it will be sometime in October, depending on the technician’s schedule, yet to be determined.  I sort of “politely” explain that is totally unacceptable,  outrageous, and I cannot be without that car for over a month or more.  I have family arriving on the 29th of September and I cannot pick them up in the Camaro.   They reply “sorry, that’s the way it is.”  I call Mercedes back and ask that surely there is somebody on the Big Island that they can authorize to work on my Mercedes since I see adds in the newspaper that at least 4 shops claim to work on Mercedes’.   Their reply is they are not qualified to do warranty work.  

I then call my last resort, my son Chuck who just happens to work for Mercedes Benz.  I catch him on the way to the Atlanta airport for his flight home, he doubts he can get a hold of any one this late in the day, so he will try Monday.  Oh, except Monday is Labor Day so it will be Tuesday.  So I proceed to stew over this all day Saturday and most of Sunday.  Never does any good but it keeps me busy.  

Suddenly I get an inspiration!  I go out to the car, lay my hands on it and pray “Lord, Lord, you are the great physician, the healer of all things, HEAL this car!!”  I stick the key into the ignition switch, turn it on and it starts right up and runs like a Swiss watch.  Actually the only thing wrong with the car was it got water up in the engine compartment and into the ignition system somewhere and shorted out one of the cylinders.  After we parked it in the carport the heat of the engine dried everything out.  It would have started Friday if I had just thought of it.   I have not had that happen since I quit driving cars built in the 50’s and 60’s.
 
And now Ladies and Gentlemen, I direct your attention the third ring under the big top!  I have had it with problems and decide that the week end is going to be spent watching football.  I can’t do anything else, I am restricted from lifting anything.  More on that later.

So I can only record two programs at the same time with my living room programmer, but with the bed room unit I can record up to six at a time.  So I proceed to try and do that only the stupid thing won’t let me.  I call direct TV and they check the system and tell me that the control box is defective and they will have to send me a new one.  And since Monday is a holiday, it won’t ship until Tuesday.  Isn’t that special! 

Jeri and I decide that we need to go to Costco since it will be closed both Sunday and Monday because of the ----HOLIDAY!  One of the items that we need is a case of diet Pepsi which has 36 cans in it and too heavy for Jeri to lift,  and I don’t dare for fear of popping something inside.  So I hail a fellow patron and ask him to put the case in our cart and in the spirit of aloha, he says no problem.  We get out to the parking lot and we are faced with the same problem of getting the Pepsi's out of the cart and into the trunk of the car.  I turn around and start looking for someone and down the parking lot comes this homeless looking guy on a bicycle.  I hail him down and he turns around and cheerfully transfers the case from the cart to the car.  I offer him money, he refuses, I thank him profusely, he gives me a big smile and rides off into the sunset.  Of course the same problem is facing us at home. When we arrive, Ken is standing in our shared driveway, I pop the trunk, look over at him, he gives me this big grin and asks “Need me to lift something?”  Problem solved.  What a blessing to have great neighbors!!

There were a couple of other bizarre things that happened but for the life of I cannot remember what they were.  Which is probably good because this has rambled on way longer than I intended.  The gist of all of this is that God provide some great friends who visited and brought Jeri to the hospital or took her home, and then came and took me home when I was released.   I was treated well in the Waimea hospital and Dr. Wong is a wonderful surgeon.  And he is overworked.  

Golf has again been put on hold for at least another week or so.  I have been putting and will start chipping later on this week, with the goal of being back into a full swing by the end of September when my bother-in-law Tom shows up.  Otherwise I feel great, except when I sneeze.  Not a good thing.         
                     


 

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