The Wind Turns

We woke on Sunday morning a bit tired and decided to spend the morning relaxing at the trailer. Jim had the Sunday crossword to do and I am always happy knitting and reading. It was a delightfully sunny morning and it felt deliciously lazy to just hang out.

After lunch we walked over to the Ranger Station to rent kayaks for the afternoon. We always intend to go kayaking, but on previous trips were hampered by lack of a life vest for Dakota. This time we had brought his and the Tahquamenon River was much too alluring to resist.

Kayaks on order, we decided to walk the rustic campground at Rivermouth. This campground did not loop as most do, but ran alongside the Tahquamenon River. Heavily wooded, the campsites were generously spaced and had views of the river through the trees. I would definitely forego electric hook ups to stay here if we ever were to return.

As we walked, I began to feel an uncommon disturbance in my tummy. When we got back to the trailer, our kayaks were there, but I needed to lay down for a moment. I went back to the bedroom and just kept feeling worse and worse. I was increasingly in distress, sweat began pouring down my face and body and I couldn’t even lie down I was so uncomfortable. Indigestion? Flu? With alarming speed, the pain increased until I finally realized this was something I could not deal with on my own.

Jim headed to the Ranger Station to find out options for medical intervention. The ranger said we could drive to Sault Ste Marie, an hour and a half to the east, or we could head west to Newberry. She recommended Newberry as it was her own home hospital and she thought they were good.

We chose the latter and by the time we got in the truck all I could do was writhe in pain and moan. My thoughts, my whole being was just consumed by pain. Jim made the trip in about 45 minutes and I have only brief recollections of trees flying by and passing many cars as he sped as quickly as possible to the hospital.

Newberry coalesced as a collection of streets and buildings. The blue sign with the H was a beacon. We pulled up and I staggered into the Emergency Room. They rushed me back and I was never so thankful to be anywhere. When the morphine failed to quell the pain, they switched to something called Dilaudid. It took multiple doses and then finally the all-consuming pain was under control. At this point I had no idea what was wrong, but they ordered a CT scan. The CT scan revealed my small intestine was obstructed. They ordered an ambulance to take me to Marquette, which was over two hours away, and where they had the facilities to perform surgery.

Poor Jim had been most of this time in the waiting room, but he was on hand to say goodbye as I was loaded into the ambulance. It would be left to him to head back to the trailer and Dakota and the next day hitch up all by himself and follow me to Marquette. It had to have been a lonely and dismal night.

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My surgery was scheduled for the next morning. At the same time, Jim was hitching the trailer. He texted his sister, Linda, to bring her up to speed. Enter the goddess/saint Linda. She called him immediately and said she was jumping in the car. It was about a seven-hour drive, but she would meet Jim in Marquette to provide much needed and desired moral support. Linda would stay with us several days and, while we may have managed without her, it made all the difference in the world to us.

As terrifying as this whole episode had been, we were incredibly fortunate to have been not too distant from care. The Helen Newberry Joy Hospital in Newberry did a great job of stabilizing my pain and diagnosing my problem. We were again fortunate that they have a close working relationship with the UP Health System–Marquette Hospital. The transport they arranged arrived instantaneously and we began the two hours plus trip.

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The UP Health System—Marquette Hospital turned out to have just opened in June. It is a gorgeous state-of-the-art facility. I had arrived at the hospital Sunday night and my surgery was scheduled for the next morning. Any concerns I had about who my surgeon would be were irrelevant. I was grateful to be there and hoped for the best outcome.

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All went well with the surgery. They removed 19 inches of small intestine, but that’s okay because there is plenty left. The eight inch incision did in all likelihood put an end to my bikini modeling career, but it was a small price to pay.

Jim arrived to visit in the late afternoon. Linda was on hand and they were busy scouring the area for appropriate places for my recovery when I got out. The average stay after my procedure is 5-7 days. My recovery was an upward trajectory. I rejoiced each time a tube was removed and by Thursday, my happiness was transcendent as I surveyed my first meal.

Jim and Linda had found the perfect place for us to recover. The Country Village RV Park in Ishpeming is about 20 minutes up the road from the hospital. Abutting the campground is the pet-friendly, Jasper Ridge Inn. We would have the trailer on hand and the comfort of a hotel room within a few hundred yards.

Linda drove me from the hospital and Jim followed in the truck. It was great to be out and floral tribute greeted me at the hotel. Linda left shortly thereafter having taken incomparable care of both Jim and Dakota. This was the end of the trip we thought we were taking and the beginning of a homeward voyage. We would take our time convalescing and, when it was time, hit the road back east. It was a little sad, but mostly we were grateful that everything worked out so incredibly well.

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8 thoughts on “The Wind Turns

  1. Jenny–so sorry that you had to go through this and so very glad you were close to such good care. Wishing you an uneventful and speedy recovery so you can get back on the road again.

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  2. Jenny, I am so glad that everything seems to have ended well. I was initially scanning this and when I read the part about their removing all that intestine I quickly started at the beginning, anxious for you and wondering where this was heading. Hoping for a speedy and complete recovery.

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  3. Oh Jenny & Jim,

    I am so so sorry to hear this news. Yet I’m relieved you were able to obtain such high quality care. Please don’t hesitate to touch base if I might do anything to prepare for your homecoming. Jenny, will you be okay throughout the drive? If there is any chance you decide to instead fly (leaving Jim & Dakota once again in their own ☹️), I would be happy to meet you at Bradley. Could I do some marketing so you can return without having to deal with an empty larder? I just realized you’ll return to CT and I’m also available to head there. In the interim, safe travels. Thinking of all of you.

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  4. Hi Jenny

    This story does not sound all too good.What was the reason for this obstruction? Do you Have any results of histology, yet? Hope you are well, Thomas

    >

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  5. oh Jen, so sorry to hear about the aborted plans. but glad you are well and the road will still be there when you are ready to head out again. wishing you an easy easy recovery

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  6. Hi Jenny,
    I look forward to reading your blogs, especially now because we love the UP and are going up this week to kayak. Your blog started out great as always and I was looking forward to your review of kayaking the river. We also figured you would probably go to 12 mile beach next, which is our destination. Then we would hear how much Dakota loved running the beach. Our dog sure does. And then wow! What a frightening surprise! Glad everything turned out ok, but what a shock for you both! Rich is really feeling for Jim as we went through something very similar a short time ago and he also got to do a hospital dash, turn me over to the professionals and then wait and worry. We’re wishing you both a quick recovery!

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  7. Thank heavens you found such great care and you are on the road to recovery. You can have a slow and easy trip home and still enjoy some autumn color.

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