Happy to be alive; so, uh, how was your holiday?


How did you spend your Thanksgiving week?

The Monday before Thanksgiving, I experienced an abdominal attack that was so concerning we called 911 at two o’clock in the morning. Thirty minutes later, a welcome cavalry of ambulances and EMT’s showed up at our door and calmly determined I was not dying. Though I felt silly for rousing these people from their sleep for what now seemed unimportant, it was reassuring having them come. The next day I called my doctor’s office and they told me, “Sounds like you’re doing okay; call if things get worse.” I felt comfortable that whatever happened was just one of those things that come and go. 

Tuesday passed uneventfully though I didn’t feel 100%. 

Some background: a month ago, I had two marble-sized (!) kidney stones blasted out by having a laser snaked into my body. It still freaks me when thinking about that, but thankfully I was under anesthesia. After two hours the stones were gone and I was free again! But no, I also have gallstones, which the very mention of I used to find comical: enter karma, which as the saying says, “can be a b****.” 

On Wednesday morning, the day before Thanksgiving, I woke in pain again, weak, dehydrated, worried and later passed out against the refrigerator, now cleaned off of everything stuck to it. My doctor’s office is small and dedicated, but the afternoon before Thanksgiving is not a good time to connect. By the time they called me back, we were on the way to the Emergency Room!   

Nancy drove to McKenzie/Willamette Hospital’s Emergency Room where I was screened for COVID-19 and within minutes had an IV in my arm and a staff of competent people poking, prodding and otherwise figuring out what the heck was going on. Twelve hours before Thanksgiving, during a pandemic, I experienced the dedication of people who take care of others day after day, after day, after day. Each person who took care of me was competent, reassuring and sympathetic. Three hours later, with a gallstone attack confirmed, we drove home.

Nancy and I spent a quiet and private Thanksgiving Day, honoring the prudence of avoiding contact with others during the holiday. We went to bed early but were awake when the phone rang at ten o’clock. It was an unknown number. I assumed it was a junk call until seeing the caller left a voice message. It was ER calling, asking me to call back. I did so, still calm until my intuition activated when the nurse cautiously asked, “How are you feeling?” He told me I needed to come back the next morning, first thing because the blood work was a concern.

Black Friday, returning to the hospital, I was readmitted and informed that I had a potentially serious bacterial infection. Three hours later, I left, with a mega-dose of antibiotics in my blood, thinking again, all was well.  

Cutting to the chase, I returned on Saturday for two massive butt shots (ouch!) and am well, thanks to my daughter, who advocated for me from Dallas, Texas, as well as the caring attention of the emergency room staff. I am on the way to a full recovery.  

Today is Sunday. I’m sharing this to express gratitude for all in our Chronicle community who selflessly and capably devote their lives to others. Under normal conditions, these people work long hours, put their lives at risk, and do so with no expectation for anything more than the satisfaction of doing their jobs well and serving the greater good. In COVID – 19 times, their careers have an added dimension of risk, which they embrace with competence, courage and steadfastness. No one asked me if I was poor or rich; no one asked me how I vote. No one did anything but help me return to health. 

The staff was a diverse snapshot of all America and I am thankful for and indebted to them.

And that, my friends, is how we spent our Thanksgiving week, surrounded by remarkable and selfless public servants, deserving of our respect and support, even if they never ask for it. 


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