Attention Everyone: Is There a Doctor in the House?

"The nurses, I have already learned, are the ones who give us the answers

we’re desperate for. Unlike the doctors, who fidget like they need to be somewhere else"

Jodi Picoult

State 6: Illinois - July 6 - July 9, 2017

Lori

I was very excited to have a night in a hotel with Nate. At this point we have been on the road 40 days and I have been itching to get out of the van and relax, watch TV, maybe have a hot bath, etc. The universe had other plans for me. We arrived at the motel around 12:00pm. It was an extremely hot day and we couldn’t wait to find our room and turn the AC on. By the time we got in the room I thought I was going to pass out from exhaustion. Nate took my temperature, because I was acting a little confused. It was a 99 degrees! I had woken up that morning with chest pains upon taking a deep breath and thought nothing of it, but maybe I caught something? I decided to sleep for a few hours assuming I would feel better later. I tossed and turned for hours with leg pains and hot flashes. Nate tried to get me to eat, but I had no appetite. He took my vital signs to make sure I was ok. My blood pressure was 122/68, but my pulse was high at 134 as were my respiration's at 36. As I was about to get back in bed, Nate noticed a rash all over my legs and arms. I really hadn’t noticed it, but Nate seemed particularly alarmed. We wondered if it could be a side effect of the antibiotics I was on for a tick bite and unresolved UTI. My breathing became more and more difficult as the night went on and I could only lay in certain positions. I had taken Tylenol for my temperature earlier, but it just kept going up. Around 8:00pm, we decided that if my temperature went any higher we would go to a doctor. When my temperature got to 101 degrees, off we were to the ER at 10:30 at night.

We had an hour and a half wait, and by the time I was in the treatment room, my temperature was at 102 degrees. I told the doctor about my tick bite, the UTI that would never go away, the rash, my 102 fever and my shortness of breath. Before the doctor walked out of the room, he turned and said, “My guess is that you are probably a lot sicker than you look.” He decided to run some blood tests, take a chest x-ray and have the nurse hook me up to an IV. The nurse I had was absolutely wonderful. She was kind, patient and sympathetic. Later that evening she walked in the room and told me, “You are one sick girl”. She elaborated by saying that I had sepsis, and that Nate was smart to have brought me to the hospital. I knew that sepsis couldn’t be good, but when looking over at Nate’s somber expression I felt like she had just given me the death sentence. Nate was in deep thought, and not really ready to answer my questions about what exactly sepsis was. I googled sepsis and it read, ”Sepsis is a life threatening condition that arises when the body’s response to infection causes injury to its own tissues and organs". OMG!

Per the doctor’s instructions, the nurse quickly arranged a CAT Scan, and started second IV in my other arm. For the next couple of hours, it was a scurry of nurses and aids doing what they could to get answers and make me more comfortable. After some time, the doctor came back and said he had some good news for me. Great, I could use some I thought to myself. He proceeded to say, “Your liver and kidneys look good, and you did NOT have a heart attack” A heart attack? OMG! I never even considered that I might have had a heart attack. The doctor continued.” but, you have Pneumonia”. He smiled and started to walk away. I yelled to the Doctor, “Wait! You are not worried about the pneumonia?”. The doctor replied, “Sure I am, so we are going to have to keep you here for a few days”, and just like that he was gone.

An hour later I was admitted into the hospital, and moved to a private room. Nate and I sat in shock, and I started to cry about the severity of my condition. It was a long emotional night, so sleeping really wasn’t a possibility. In addition, the nurses woke me up every 30 minutes to do vitals and draw blood, etc. Nate was scrunched on a tiny little couch beside me, and he didn’t sleep well either. The next day, I had scheduled meetings with the Endocrinologist, Infection Control Doctor, Cardiologist, Pulmonologist, and Primary Care Doctor. Each had their own opinions about the cause of my illness. Some thought the tick bite was responsible, and others thought it was the Macrobid antibiotic I had taken. The only thing they agreed on was that they all wanted to run more tests. After three days in the hospital, I was finally feeling much better. They pumped me full of antibiotics, my fever and rash are gone, I am breathing better, and all of my doctors have given me permission to leave the hospital. It feels like I have been in the hospital for a month, and I am so very excited to leave. I am extremely grateful to have had such great care at the hospital, and I am looking forward to getting back on the road. I may not be a “sick girl” anymore, but I realize that I am a very lucky girl.

Nate

Finally, Lori was discharged and we headed back to Rosie who had been parked in the ER parking lot for the past 4 days. On the way down, we made the tough choice, to skip our last stop Chicago, Illinois. Lori was still recovering from pneumonia, and having her walk city blocks and surrounding her with large crowds of people did not seem like a wise idea. We also heard on the news there was over 100 shootings in the city over the 4th of July weekend. Apparently Chicago is one of the most dangerous cities in the country. So much in fact, President Trump threatened to send in the Feds if the city did not get the violence under control. We just left one hospital, and we had no desire to risk having a chance encounter with another.

From the hospital parking lot in Palos, IL, we headed towards the 7th state on our cross country trip to discover America, and to find a new state to call home: Indiana; The Crossroads of America. Finally, a great state motto! This quote says Indiana is easily accessible, and says its centralized location lies at the heart of our country. It’s a factual statement. The state of Indiana has the most highways per square miles than any other state, and makes me want to drive through it! What an awesome example of a state motto! Indiana: The Crossroads America. I absolutely love it.

Since our previous hotel stay was cut short due to Lori’s illness, we decided another hotel night was in order. We found a good deal on a Red Roof Inn right over the state border, in Merrillville, IN. We were both extremely excited to finally be back on our journey, but just then, we got another stroke of bad luck. As soon as we turned Rosie on to head out of the hospital parking lost, we saw the dreaded check engine light. Damn, all the ladies in my life were getting sick on me this week. Lol! We took Rosie for a couple trips around the hospital parking lot, and she seemed to be ok. However, with a check engine light on, you really never know. It can be a $100 sensor, or it can be a $4000 head gasket! Nonetheless, it was 6:00pm on a Sunday night, and all the shops were closed. We said a prayer and disembarked for our hotel in Indiana.

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