Driving east on Highway 86, I have said goodbye to Organ Pipe National Monument and I am going to Tucson, Arizona to find a clinic to be treated for dehydration. I have not been able to keep food or water down for three days and I am exhausted and very weak. The park rangers in Organ Pipe, where I have been camping, checked my vitals this morning and suggested I go to a clinic to receive IV fluids. If I felt better and wasn’t on the lookout for possible places to pull over to exercise my over-exerted stomach muscles, I would certainly enjoy the two hour trip passing Native American communities and iconic Arizona/Mexico scenery such as border patrol checkpoints and dozens of border patrol cars. As I travel down the road I spot a small market. I drive past but visions of cold drinks begin to cloud my focus. My throat is raw from days of vomiting. I can’t resist the temptation and I turn the car around.
After parking the car, I sit for a moment to muster the energy to walk inside the store, locate something to drink, pay for the beverage, and walk back to the car. I manage to slowly make my way to the door of the store. I go inside and look around. I spy the refrigerated section in the back of the store. Now my confused, liquid-deprived brain can’t make a decision. I am not a soda drinker but the idea of a cold, carbonated beverage sliding down my parched, raw throat into my empty, sore belly is really appealing. I choose Sprite and head over to the cashier. I cannot think straight so I drop several coins on the counter. The cashier counts out the correct amount, I say thank you, and start for the exit. At the door I remember to turn around and ask if the Sprite was regular or diet. He looks at me funny and says it is a regular Sprite, not diet. I thank him again, exit the store, and return to my car. I can’t help but laugh as I glance in the rear-view mirror. I have not showered in two days and my short hair is unkempt, my face is pale, and my lips have no color. I’m sure everyone in the market thinks I’m some kind of crazy-looking nut that can’t count money or read a label.
Back on the road, I open the bottle of Sprite and take a tiny little sip. Delicious! Cool and crisp and oh so good! I take another sip and not five minutes later I am on the side of the road regurgitating every bit of the teaspoon of fizzy bliss next to a very thirsty cactus. And fifteen minutes later, I am again attempting to offer a liquid blessing; but this cactus is not as lucky. I’m trying, but I have nothing else to give. I continue my journey leaving the nearly full bottle of Sprite nesting in the cup holder. Arriving in the western outskirts of Tucson, I keep my eyes peeled for a medical clinic. Not finding one, I turn into a random parking lot and phone my husband. Stephen strongly suggests I quit messing around and go to the nearest emergency room.
The best and most favorite feature of my 2010 Toyota Camry is the navigation system. I love it! Not only does it help me get where I need to go, it also directs me to the nearest Starbucks. The nav system clicks down the miles to my destination and even estimates how long it will take to get there. I ask Nav to direct me to the nearest hospital and she quickly complies. I am navigated to the University of Arizona Medical Center where I stagger into the emergency room, sign in at the admission desk, and huddle down in a chair to await my date with an IV needle.