Rich and I took an unexpected trip to Anchorage last Sunday and just returned home today. He'd been feeling awful for several days last week; this is the guy who NEVER misses work and has hardly taken a sick day in 20 years so I knew something was terribly wrong when he called in sick. He could not eat, didn't even want to eat, and could not get comfortable enough to sleep at all. Friday he went to our local clinic where it was suspected that he had a gallstone and gall bladder issues and they wanted him to head to Anchorage immediately. Unfortunately, by that time of day, the last plane had already left here so we bought tickets for Saturday and he had to tough it out through another night of no sleep and nothing in his stomach, poor guy. Saturday we got up early for what turned out to be no good reason because the weather was nasty and all flights were eventually cancelled. Another day with not much to eat and another night with no sleep. Sunday we managed to get out and had to go directly to the Emergency Room at Alaska Regional Hospital, where they were expecting us. Our taxi driver was very interested in the situation in the Ukraine and told us if we had a different president: "Boom, Boom, Boom!"
After hours of lying in a hospital bed and having blood tests, an ultrasound and a CT scan, we were told it was not Rich's gall bladder but his pancreas which had become inflamed and was causing all his pain and discomfort. He may have had a gallstone, which might have initiated everything, but it was not visible by the time we got to Anchorage. Apparently the treatment for pancreatitis is to "rest the pancreas," which meant only liquids and food that will liquify at room temperature. We were released to go to a hotel to "rest" his pancreas for a few days and then see a doctor for follow up lab work. Imagine Rich's dismay after not having eaten for several days already to be told he had to do the same for 48 more hours. The next day we took a taxi to Fred Meyer and stocked up on fun stuff like plain broth, jello, popsicles, and water. Oh, I did get some good snacks for myself. :)
Basically we spent the week holed up in a hotel. It was not all that much fun. Our hotel did not even have Pay-Per-View or HBO so we couldn't rent a movie and we missed our new favorite show "True Detective." Even Comedy Central was fuzzy and kept going off the air so we did not get our "Daily Show" and "Colbert Report" fixes. We mostly laid around, read, watched TV, napped, ate our snacks, and got on the computer. Toward the end of the week, we did walk to the mall where I got a new pair of jeans after noticing that mine were about to bust through at the knee and Rich got some tennis shoes. Other than doctor visits and grocery shopping, that was about the extent of our excursions.
One day we went to a family practice clinic where Rich signed on as a patient and had his repeat labwork done. A young woman picked us up in her cab to take us back to the hotel, asking "Are you using Medicaid to pay for this?" She then launched into a discussion about environmental issues, which led us to believe we were mostly on the same page about such things, till she eventually looped back around to what appeared to be her primary complaint that women have too many babies in order to "get a check." As a former social worker, I could not keep my mouth shut and told her that was just untrue. So then I got a lecture about how she sees this all the time in her cab and how many women have told her they are just having babies to get a check. I said this is anecdotal but not supported by research and that her perspective is probably a little skewed due to her experiences on the job. She was not buying that at all. She seemed pretty ill-informed as she also noted that she did not understand why women in China want to have 11 children (we supposed she had never heard of the one-child policy). As we approached the hotel, she stated that she did not want to pay taxes to support other people and that "women having too many babies is the biggest evil in the world." I mentioned a few other things that were taking a lot more of her tax money and that there were probably a few more evil things to be concerned about, we gave her a nice tip, and wished her a good day. I am sure she was happy to get us out of her cab.
Rich's lab work was better, thankfully, but he still did not feel great the rest of the week. We cabbed it back to Freddy's another day and replenished our food supply. We made the mistake of going to the store around 4 PM and when I called to get a cab to take us back, I was told it would be 45 minutes to an hour. "Is that okay?" I said, "No! Thanks anyway!" and called another cab company (by then we'd learned several taxi phone numbers by heart) only to be told it could be just as long. When I lamented the wait, the dispatcher curtly told me "It's rush hour! It's always like this!" as if I should have known. Thank goodness a cab showed up fairly quickly. When I told the guy how happy I was, we talked about the traffic and rush hour briefly and then he said he tries not to complain because it really does not do any good. I told him he was a wise man and I needed to hear that. :)
On our last day we moved to a different hotel closer to the airport so we'd have a shuttle ride in the morning. In the "small world" department, the cab driver who took us from one hotel to the other was good friends with a guy we know in Unalaska. I ditched Rich that night and went out with our friends Jeanette and Paul--it was great to see them and we had a fun time at "First Friday" downtown, where different bars, restaurants and shops display various artists' work. At the first place we stopped, one of their friends was the featured artist with beautiful photos from Israel and Jordan--all of colorful, interesting, and unusual doors. We made several stops, had drinks, dinner and good conversation. I was glad to get out for awhile, though we were all sorry Rich did not feel up to it.
This morning we caught our plane back home. The flight left on time, the bumps weren't too bad, and we even landed a few minutes early. *Red letter day!* After taking a nap, we went to the store and stocked up on low fat/no fat food items so Rich can take good care of his pancreas. He does NOT want to have another flare up, that's for certain!
And on a happier note, it was our sweet granddaughter Ally's 7th birthday today. She's smart and funny and cute as a bug, a girly-girl with a big personality and a mind of her own! We love her and miss her lots!