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September 25th, 2010:

Carol’s Wild Ride

The night before last, Carol woke up at 3 ayem from some of the worst abdominal pain she’s ever experienced. After a few groggy minutes of watching her thrashing around in agony, I did about all I could: called 911 and had an ambulance get her up to Memorial Central.

I had a kidney stone in 1997 and it reminded me a little of that: No position she took would ameliorate the pain even a little. The nexus of the pain seemed wrong for a kidney stone, but science knows far less about complex systems like human biology than it claims to, and such systems don’t always perform the ways that we demand they do. I have no experience with appendicitis and worried about that as well, so off she went.

Colorado Springs Memorial Health System is a superb hospital, and though I certainly don’t want to ride over there in an ambulance (or anything else) if I can avoid it, I’m glad it’s there if I ever need it, and certainly glad it was there when Carol needed it. They got her into a comfortable room, got an IV going, and gave her pain killers almost instantly. The people we dealt with were amiable and very competent, and by mid-morning they had decided to admit her, to continue testing and give her some time to recuperate under controlled conditions. I went back home breakfastish to feed QBit and pack the other three members of the Pack off to “grandma” Jimi Henton (their breeder) for a short vacation. By the time I got back we had a diagnosis of inflamed pancreas and a treatment plan. Carol was a little groggy from the painkillers and was dozing a lot, but she was no longer in pain and according to the medical staff was in no danger.

Memorial has a bogglingly good cafeteria downstairs, where I lunched on tender London broil with almond rice pilaf, chased by an excellent oatmeal-raisin cookie–all for about $6, which is generally what I part with on any odd trip to McDonald’s.

After lunch Carol had a visit from the rector of our Episcopal parish, Fr. David Koskela, who dropped everything when he learned that Carol was in the hospital and roared over there to give her a blessing and a kiss and encouragements. (If we were still Romans there would have been no such visit; even “last rites” are tough to come by these days, with so few priests left to confect them.)

I stayed with Carol most of the day, coming home again suppertime to feed QBit, then returning until 8 or so, when I started getting crosseyed for lack of sleep. Memorial is unusual in that they allow visitors at any time, 24/7, and don’t obsess about cell phones. We talked to family back in Chicago last night on Carol’s cell, and none of the high-tech machinery in the room died in showers of Trekkish sparks.

I brought Carol her toothbrush, some clean clothes to come home in, and a stuffed bichon to keep her company during the first night she’s spent in a hospital since 1966. QBit keeps searching the house for her, and I’m sure we’ll all rejoice when she gets home. More as it happens.

UPDATE: Carol was discharged from the hospital at about 2 PM today and I now have her tucked in bed with QBit at her feet. She’s on liquids and bed rest and “the boys” are going to stay at “grandma’s” for a couple more days. (Carol really doesn’t want even a single bichon on her lap right now, considering how close her lap is to her pancreas–much less the continuous rolling bar-brawl we call the Pack.)