Mean Little Stomach Bug


Waiting for my name to be called in a Tucson, Arizona hospital emergency room, I reflect on the past several days.  How did an Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument solo camping adventure turn into a solo camping misadventure.  What did I do wrong?  How did I become so very sick?  Did I not drink enough water while hiking the trails?  Did I not drink enough water prior to arriving at Organ Pipe?  Does getting lost in the Sonoran desert for 20 minutes have an effect on hydration?  Fortunately I do not have to ponder for long.

I follow a nurse to a small room where I share my sad saga of sickness.  My vitals are checked, blood is drawn, I’m settled into a large, lounge-type chair with lots of warm blankets, and hooked up to a much anticipated, much appreciated bag of IV fluids.  I sit back to watch a Pawn Stars marathon and wait for the elixir to work its magic on my body.  I am anticipating a full, energetic recovery in a couple of hours so I mentally plan my evening.  Upon discharge I will find a restaurant that serves soup, eat my fill, and then check into a hotel where I will take a shower and sleep comfortably through the night.

A doctor approaches and informs me the results of the blood work indicate severe dehydration and I will require several bags of fluid.  After consuming three large bags, I am feeling decidedly WORSE!  I tell the nurse as she replaces the third bag with the fourth that I do not feel any better.  In fact, she witnesses the awful, humiliating dry heaves that have been plaguing me for three days.  She takes my vitals once again and discovers that, sure enough, now I have a fever.  This is a real matter of concern because I did not have a fever two hours ago when I arrived at the hospital.  The nurse draws more blood from my arm and reports my current condition to the doctor.

After reviewing the blood work, the doctor determines my body is in the beginning stages of starvation.  Her diagnosis is a mean stomach bug that got out of hand because I have been camping in the desert and not able to eat properly.  I have not been able to keep food or water down for three days.  With pity in her eyes, the doctor gently informs me that she is admitting me to a room so I can receive glucose fluid intravenously all through the night.  Without it, my body will continue to shut down.  Visions of soup, a shower, and a peaceful hotel room quickly become a reality of IV glucose, a third day of dirty hair, and a night of interrupted sleep in a Tucson hospital.

I have been texting my husband often while in the emergency room, keeping him updated, reassuring him that I am fine and will be on my merry way in just a few hours.  As I wait for the orderly to take me to my home for the night, I call Stephen and ask him to please…come and get me.  My wonderful, loving husband has already booked a flight from Dallas to Tucson arriving at 11:30 in the morning!  With only a few interruptions from a caring nurse named Gabby, I spend a comfortable night dreaming of a tall, handsome knight arriving to take me away.

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