Day #2 – The first of three birthday parties for James was at the Gymnastics Center in Missoula. Lots of running, bouncing, swinging, and jumping kept all the fifteen, or so, kids very busy. The activities served to calm them all down for cake and ice cream and present opening. I couldn’t take enough pictures of all the hustle and bustle.I was able to get out shopping with James, and procured some presents that he highly recommended.
Day #3 – This was a day that will live in infamy. It started out like any other sleepy Sunday morning. I had some of Missoula’s finest coffee, started playing with James and his new stash of toys. We got to open the presents I had purchased the day before. I was looking out the glass doors which lead to the deck, and noticed that I couldn’t see the mountains to the West of town. Not more than an hour passed, and I noticed that I couldn’t see the West side of Missoula, which is very unusual for a September day in Montana.
As the day progressed, I started feeling a little light headed, which was followed by an unusual shortness of breath, which, in turn, was followed by my hands and feet getting cold and numb. I wasn’t too concerned as I my focus was totally on playing with James. By the time dinner plans were hatched, I really wasn’t feeling good at all. So, I begged out of joining everyone for dinner, and crawled into bed to weather the storm. At some point I had the urge to take care of nature, and found that I wasn’t doing the walking thing very well. My head was spinning; I felt nauseous; I felt very weak; I started into a cold sweat; and, now I was getting worried that my general health was headed South.
I raised Jamey on the phone, and suggested he call 911 to get me an ambulance over to the Hospital. In very short order the ambulance came, and whisked me off to Emergency Room at the same Hospital James was born in three years prior. Jamey followed and stayed by my side until all emergency tests were completed and I was assigned a room. I had to boot him out around midnight.
Jamey left me for what was left of the night and I had tubes/IV’s/Inhalers coming at me and in me from all directions. I got zero sleep, but I must say they were treating me like royalty. Just before breakfast I noticed that I was being tended to by some of prettiest nurses I have ever had the pleasure of doing business with. These young women were not only drop dead gorgeous, but also very intelligent, highly skilled, and incredibly attentive. This part of the trip was definitely a win/win situation.
Day #4 - I was lucky enough to be assigned a Doctor who was also in the Air Force Reserve as a Flight Surgeon. He went out of his way to take excellent care of this old Warrior. I was also lucky enough to get a private room, which worked out very well for visiting hours. Jamey, Katie, and James were allowed to visit at any time of the day and for however long they so chose.
While discussing my condition with my Doctor, I was appraised of the fact that my blood-oxygen level was 48% when I arrived at the Emergency Room. I know from experience that 48% is pretty close to checking out for good. Well, they brought me back, and did it in short order. For that alone, I am deeply indebted to the entire Staff. About then I decided to take a peak out the window and saw nothing but a blanket of smoke settling on the town. Thank God I was inside and under the expert care of the Doctors, Nurses, and the rest of the Staff. James arrived with Katie and he had specially wrapped up some jelly beans for his old Poppa. We devoured them and I made a point of telling him how much I appreciated his love and concern.
One point of interest that I was not aware of was the fact that large doses of steroids tend to spike your blood sugar levels. Mine had spiked to 265 which I was told wasn’t very good. So, in comes the Insulin Nurse to stick me with more needles. After six shots of Insulin to the belly, my blood sugar level was back down to 85.
Day #5 – “Heavens to Mergatroid”, the tubes and IV’s started coming out; the doses of steroids were drastically decreased; and, I actually started to feel better. I was able to walk around in the corridors and get a little exercise, which helped speed the feeling better. I found out that the Hospital was not going to release me without hooking me up with a portable oxygen concentrator. Oh boy, was this fun! I’m glad I have unlimited minutes on my cell phone. Many calls were placed and received with a surprisingly great outcome. The V.A. Hospital in New York City agreed to send me a portable unit, and they did it “over night”. Wow, even I was impressed. I finally got a good night’s sleep to enter the next, and final day, at the Hospital.
Day #6 – Jamey stopped by early with a large container of really good coffee, and the paper work for my release got started. To my amazement, the paper trail went very smoothly and efficiently, and I was free to go just after noon o’clock with a portable oxygen concentrator in tow. I got to say a fond farewell to the Nursing Staff, and off I went; back to the Dubosque household. What an incredible relief! The cloud of fire smoke still hung over the town, so I was assigned inside duty for the rest of the day.
An hour after I got back,I was looking out the kitchen window when suddenly a large column of black smoke shot up into the air one street up the hill. All I could think of was, “God damn it! I can’t get away from this smoke thing.” Turned out that a fish fry on a gas grill went awry and totally torched the house (I did sneak out to get pictures). I held my own for the remainder of the day, and seriously chow‘d down on Jamey’s special Macaroni and Cheese with diced Honey glazed ham.
I had an interesting few hours trying to get flight authorization from Delta to be able to bring the portable oxygen unit onboard my flight home. My favorite daughter-in-law was my savior on this exercise; she made it all happen with a lot of going here and going there. This was definitely a point at which my “Anger Meter” was getting very close to 10, and, if were not for Katie, I might well have surpassed that high water mark. Thankfully, Dr. Mendelsohn’s Anger Management Classes also came to the fore, and I was able to deal with the situation, bringing the Meter back down to 0. Getting back to 0 enabled me to relax and enjoy the rest of the day playing with James and all his new found booty. I slept like a rock that night.
Day #7 – Get away day arrived with the same cloud of fire smoke over the town, but we all arose early and got to the airport. I can’t find words to describe how happy and thankful I was that we had decided Jamey would escort me all the way home. Emotional good- byes were said to Katie and James, and off we went headed for the East Coast. The trip went without a hitch, and back home in New York was a pleasant feeling. To recap, I went to Montana for a scheduled 7 days, three of which were spent in the Hospital. I have to make up those three lost days in the near future; of course, without the damn smoke.