In the desert there wasn’t cell phone coverage or WiFi. It’s thirty miles to town and I didn’t know if they had a hospital.
The last two days I’d done little else other than write and think. The more time I allowed for quiet reflection the better I feel mentally. Quiet reflection, sadly, isn’t the best medicine for a sharp, stabbing pain.
I’m an optimist, so I generally think everything will be alright. This pain wasn’t life threatening, I thought, based on my years of advanced medical training (I’ve seen EVERY episode of House).
I’m also a novelist, so I can also imagine a scenario where my body is found in the desert being chewed on by coyotes.
The numerous and varied ways I was going to die played out in my head for few hours as I lay as still as possible. The pain wasn’t bad when not moving. I didn’t have food, so eventually I would have to move.
As I lay there planning my own demise, certain in the optimistic view that whichever way I died it would be HUGE for book sales, I was very much letting the creative juices take hold. Everyone loves reading a novelist eaten by mountain lions (scenario 6). If I hadn’t been in so much pain, I’d likely have done a good bit of writing.
Now, I’m not one to go to the hospital, or a doctor, or community theatre shows involving mimes, but it was seeming to be a bit serious. I decided to get in the car and drive the sixteen miles or so I would need to get one bar on my phone. It didn’t hurt to find out where a hospital might be located just in case.
The voice in my head was still telling me I’d be alright and to just suck it up.
Fortunately for me, my author buddy’s husband (who I had called) was much more pro-hospital than the voice in my head. He convinced me I needed to go. It was to be found about 70 miles away in Alpine, so I headed north on 118.
The stabby feeling subsided as I was driving because I wasn’t moving about. Sasha, my trusty sports steed, hummed along and I actually enjoyed the drive. It was late evening and the surrounding high plains were beautiful. Not a hungry mountain lion in site, but I did see one coyote. He was chasing a road runner and the jet pack on his back seemed to be malfunctioning.
When I arrived at the hospital, I got out of my car and started the long thirty-yard walk. It sounds like I’m joking, because I’ve been known to do that sort of thing, but I couldn’t take steps that were more than six inches. I looked like Tim Conway when he was playing an old guy on the Carol Burnett show.
Three hours in the hospital, a prescription for ten days of antibiotics, and a wheelchair ride back to my car and the prognosis was that I would live.
The whole experience was wonderful because of the quality treatment I received from the staff, most notably Jim the nurse. He was awesome!
I didn’t go back to the bus that night. Instead I got a hotel room at the Quarter 7 hotel, which is lovely, and gets a 37 just for how Carlin helped me get checked in. I couldn’t even stand at the counter. He found me room 112, which was the closest to where I was sitting. He helped me get my stuff from the car and then even parked it.
When I got in my room, I had a pain pill the hospital had given me. I was so tired and beaten down I couldn’t open the little silver packaging. Carlin did that for me, too.
The pain pill helped and I watched NHL hockey before dropping off to sleep.
Looking back on the experience it was wonderful. The decisions that the old Brian would have made could have led to serious problems. The hospital staff was wonderful and it ended up costing much less than I imagined. In fact, because I paid all at once, they knocked the bill down from $1000 to $650. I didn’t know hospitals could do that, but apparently they get so little from insurance companies that for those who pay up front they’re able to cut the person a break. It changed my views on going to get help when I’m sick. That’s a valuable lesson right there.
It’s not the most fun chapter in the life of The Vagabond Novelist, but it might be the most valuable thus far.