...did not go as planned. Thursday night, after I posted my anxiously excited blurb about my WFR, I got a call from the Memorial Hospital in North Conway, New Hampshire. I heard what no wife really wants to hear - Derek had been admitted to the ER.
Derek was in New Hampshire for his Rock Instructor Exam with the American Mountain Guide Association. He has been practicing for his exam on Thursday when he started feeling ill, then felt bad enough that he got a hotel room for the night. Not long after he got his room, he realized he needed to get medical care. Thankfully, this kid is always prepared - he already knew where the ER was and drove himself. Once there, he had the nurse call me because his phone had died.
She asked me, "Do you want to go ahead and drive over?" ... It took Derek two full days of driving to get to New Hampshire. Clearly, this lady had no clue that I was in Alabama. She put Derek on the phone. He sounded okay, and said that I didn't need to come just yet. We'd wait and see what the doctor said.
Even though he said I didn't need to be there, I started looking up flights. As soon as I could, I called his sister and made a plan. If I got the call from the hospital to get moving, I would let her know and would immediately start driving. She would then book me a flight from Birmingham and get me to Boston. There, I'd get myself a rental car and drive the remaining three hours to North Conway.
At 1:30AM, that plan got put into action. Derek was going into emergency surgery.
Driving through the night, I made it to Birmingham in record time only to wait for the airport to open for business. Derek's sister, Courtney, got me the first flight out. I boarded the plane with no word from the hospital. During my layover in Atlanta, I called the hospital, got transferred a dozen times before I finally got put through to Derek's nurse. He was okay. I got to speak to him briefly, but his voice was hoarse from being intubated and he was exhausted. Letting him rest, I went ahead and updated the rest of the family then got on my next flight.
I landed in Boston around noon, grabbed a car rental and started driving. I was quite proud of myself for making it through Boston traffic with no issues. I'd never driven in a city like that before. My pride was quickly deflated when I got to my first toll.... I had no cash. I pulled up to the booth and said the only thing I could,
"I'm from Alabama..."
This tactic successfully got me through all tolls.
By four o'clock I was pulling into a parking spot at the hospital. I wandered around inside for while, following signs for patient rooms. When I finally found Derek's room, I was a bit startled by how he looked. He was pale, eyes sunken. He pretty much looked like crap. I think I lied and told him he looked good.
The doctor wanted to keep him overnight for observation. I hung out until 8:00PM when the effects of no sleep in two days started wearing on me. I got a room in a motel and came back the next morning. Derek was discharged early, but thankfully they let him hang out for a while so I could run errands - get his prescriptions, check out of the motel (their front desk wasn't open yet when I left for the hospital), and return the rental car. Some friends of ours from Alabama were actually in the area as well, and they came to see Derek and gave me a ride from the car rental place back to the hospital.
We tried to get out of town a quickly as possible due to the impending hurricane. Yeah, we're good at being in the way of storms. We started driving around 11:00AM on Saturday, and made it to south of Scranton, PA that evening as the rain was starting to come down. We stopped at several exits looking for a hotel. The first hotel had no staff present that I could find - just a praying mantis sitting on the desk phone. I waited awhile, until I saw a lady with a parrot on her shoulder walk by. Between her, the insect, and the lack of service I figure this was not the hotel for us. We continued our search for a hotel, but each place we stopped was fully booked. Finally, we got the last vacancy at an extended stay hotel.
We bunked down for the night, ready to continue our drive in the morning. The next morning however, the hurricane was still sending crappy weather our way. The area was covered with flood and wind warnings. We waited a couple hours until things started to die down before driving again. Even though we waited, it was still a tense drive until we got out from underneath the system. We made it to Derek's parents' house in Tennessee in time for a late dinner.
We stayed with his parents for an extra day to recover from the driving and to visit. Derek was looking much better by the time we hit the road again. We finally made it home on Tuesday evening.
Derek is on medical restrictions - no lifting 20 lbs or more; no ab work outs - for a month due to the surgical incisions. I should be getting a refund from my missed WFR exam, but the AMGA is refusing to let Derek reschedule or refund his $1700 Rock Instructor Exam. He's appealing their decision now, and hopefully they'll demonstrate some compassion for his situation. However, the fact that he's having to appeal to the AMGA at all damages my opinion of the company.
We spent the rest of the week at home, carefully increasing Derek's activities each day, resting a lot, and taking care of household type things. I returned to work and school yesterday.
So. That was last week.