I had another post ready to go but the events of the last couple of days have overwhelmed it and made it irrelevant.
I was going to write about our last day in New Orleans, our flight to Atlanta and our drive north to the town of Cherokee where we expecting to begin a wonderful drive up the Blue Ridge Parkway through the Smoky Mountains. All that is now irrelevant.
We arrived in Cherokee as it was getting dark on Friday evening in pouring rain which was hard work in itself. During the night, Jill was having terrible abdominal pains and around 4.00 am I convinced her that we should call an ambulance. Soon, there was a loud knock on the hotel room door and three burly fireman came in. They were paramedics and first responders. A few minutes later an ambulance team from the Emergency Medical Service arrived and they quickly assessed Jill as needing to be taken to hospital.
They took her in an ambulance to to a hospital about 12 miles away – The Harris Regional Hospital in a little town called Sylva in North Carolina.
I took a few minutes to get some things together and then drove down in our rental car to the address that they left with me. For some reason the GPS chose to follow the shortest route rather than the fastest one so it directed me down little country roads in the dark that were winding and narrow with turns at intersections that I could barely make out in the dark. The fastest route, It turned out, would have been straight down the highway with only three turns.
The hospital is a small one but it is well equipped with operating theatres, ICU, a complete imaging facility with MRI and 85 beds. Jill was quickly assessed as having a ruptured bowel and sent to immediate, and urgent, surgery.
I spent all day yesterday (Saturday) contacting the travel insurance company, responding to their emails and worrying about Jill. I decided that it would be best to move to a hotel closer to the hospital so I had to collect our stuff, find details of Jill’s medication for the pharmacist, and find a new hotel room for some indeterminable period.
Jill had a ruptured duodenal ulcer (where the stomach empties into the small intestine) The ulcer had eaten more than half way through the duodenum thus requiring the surgeon to seek extra assistance in repairing it. This was done by removing a piece of her bowel and reattaching it to the stomach. Major abdominal surgery! Most of her stomach contents had been emptying into her abdomen causing peritonitis. I think that we got her to the hospital just in time. The surgeon and ICU nurses described her as being a very sick lady.
I went to the hospital this morning (Sunday) and she was still intubated with a breathing tube down her throat and is completely sedated. She has more tubes coming out of her than the London Underground. However, her vital signs look good and the doctors are saying that they have confidence in her getting through all this.
There wasn’t much that I could do in the middle of the day, so I decided to go for a drive and see at least a few miles of the Blue Ridge Parkway that we now wont’ be able to visit. This is peak autumn time and the colours of the trees are stunning.
We could have had seven days of this but now we will unfortunately miss it. The best thing for us to now is to get Jill back to a state of health that will enable us to fly home.
Back at the hospital tonight it seems that they are stretching out the required recovery time that Jill needs. At first, the emergency doctor told us that she might need three days in hospital. Now they are saying three days just in ICU. I can see us being here for a few weeks at least.
We thought that we had left all the crap on this trip behind. The riverboat trip was a disaster. It called into only five of the published thirteen ports on the itinerary. It was more of a mystery tour than anything else. It was far inferior to the riverboat tours that we have done in Europe and even Russia, We were glad to get off the boat and were looking forward to some decent travelling on this driving tour but that is now not to be. I suppose one day that we will look back on this trip with some sense of humour but not just now.