We get by with a lot of help from friends
The Biker's Diary
Monday, March 19, 2012 8:29 AM
When we were preparing to depart for this year's annual trip to Bangkok, we were keeping close track of the Denver weather. Last year, a severe storm rolled in there at the last minute and all flights were cancelled. So we ended up doing an expensive re-route in order to get to Los Angeles in time for our international connection. Since this year we were also connecting at Denver, we wanted to make sure it didn't happen again. But then, we reassured ourselves, how could the same thing happen two trips in a row?
All week prior to this departure, no snow or storms predicted. We thought all was going well, until I decided to do one last check of Denver weather. And oh, how it had changed. The prediction was for a severe winter storm and the predicted 16 inches of snow had already started.
We spent a long period of time on the phone trying to get re-routed and the best we could get was to fly from the Twin Cities to Newark, New Jersey, and from there to Los Angeles. After being packed into a domestic flight for the 6.5 hours it takes to fly from coast to coast, I believe I can honestly say that was the most miserable flight I have ever had. But we were certain that we had gotten this trip's glitch out of the way, happy it happened at the beginning of our travels. But little did we know the surprise awaiting us later.
The day before Spouse Roger was scheduled to return to the U.S., he experienced some shortness of breath and then a little tightness in his chest. We assumed it was heat exhaustion and dehydration, since it was unusually hot in Bangkok and we do a lot of fast walking while there. However, it happened again at the airport, then when he was walking through the Los Angeles airport and again at O'Hare in Chicago, where he was making connections.
I was staying another nine days after he went home, so a Thai friend and I were off to the northeast of Thailand. On our second evening there, I received an email from Spouse Roger's daughter that he was in the hospital at Saint Marys, and would be undergoing a lot of tests. Obviously, I needed to get back home to Minnesota.
A large group from the U.S. Air Force had arrived at the hotel that afternoon for an annual exercise they do with the Royal Thai Air Force. Two of their personnel were in the business center at the same time as me and, when I rushed out, I thanked them for their service to our country. I went back to my room with the intention of calling Spouse Roger, however, the hotel was new and so were the personnel and no one knew how to dial an international call.
I rushed back to the business center with the intention of sending an email to Spouse Roger's daughter telling her that I had been trying to call but no luck. The two Air Force people were still there, and said, "Back already?" In my frustration, I said, "Do you believe no one here knows how to make an international call?" And I explained the situation.
"Here, use my international Blackberry," the one woman said, and added that she would dial. There was no answer in Roger's room so the other woman went online and got the number for the nurse's station at the hospital and I was soon transferred to Roger. The next morning, those two angels in uniform asked if I wanted to call my husband again to see how he was doing. Thank goodness for the U.S. Air Force!
Then began the attempt to get back to the U.S. It meant we took the next flight back to Bangkok, and a friend's car and driver picked us up. I went to another's house and threw the clothes I had there into a bag, jumped back into the car and went to the other friend's house to gather up the rest of my stuff. While I was doing all that, another friend changed my flight for me via the telephone and then drove me to the airport.
It was clearly a day for me to do something stupid, and I did. Just as we parked at the airport, I realized I had left my eye medications in the refrigerator. These are vital for me, because I have to use them every 12 hours. I started to have visions of what it would be like to go blind because I didn't have the medicine during the long trip home. In good problem-solving mode, we first went to the airport pharmacy to see if perchance they had those in stock. We called another friend to see if the driver could run them out to the airport, but he was at the other side of Bangkok by then. In the end, my friend took off and drove through rush-hour Bangkok traffic to the house and returned in time for me to make my flight. We called it the Mission Impossible!
Since returning home, I have received an email from the two Air Force women, asking how my spouse is doing and wishing me luck. I am happy to report to them, and my other friends who helped in this heroic effort, that Spouse Roger is through surgery, though not yet awake as I am writing this, and that according to the surgeon, it "went well and he really needed this."