The last time this column appeared in the Tribune, my wife and I had been directed to a large hospital in Bend, Oregon, so I could have my head examined. The concern was that the combination of a …
The last time this column appeared in the Tribune, my wife and I had been directed to a large hospital in Bend, Oregon, so I could have my head examined. The concern was that the combination of a bumped head and the blood thinner I was taking might be causing bleeding in my brain, which isn’t a good thing.
Before an examination of my head could happen, however, we had to find our way to the hospital, and that was a problem. Even though the nurse at the clinic had clearly marked the route to the hospital on the map in my phone, immediately upon our arrival in Bend, we took a wrong turn. Our attempts to get back on track resulted in three or four additional wrong turns, and in very short order, we were completely lost. Fortunately, we found a person who knew which way to go, and before long, we were in the same neighborhood as the hospital. Unfortunately, the hospital was hidden behind a number of retail establishments and apartment buildings, but a second person pointed to a sign with a big H and an arrow pointing the right direction, and in short order, we cruised into the hospital parking lot.
Once inside, I found that the staff of the hospital was expecting me, and I was on a gurney headed toward radiology. A quick snapshot of my head revealed no bleeding, and the radiologist turned his attention to other parts of my body. Then I was trundled off to a room while the experts looked at my insides to see if there were any other hidden catastrophes hiding there.
Unfortunately, there were. First, they told me that I had broken a rib on my left side when I fell the night before. I was a bit surprised by this news, because I hadn’t experienced any new pain in the area where this break had occurred. I have suffered broken ribs before, and they were always accompanied by considerable pain. Once, for example, I was in a hurry to finish a paint job and slipped while dismounting from a scaffold, and for nearly a month getting out of bed in the morning was quite painful. This time, I didn’t have nearly as much pain as I did then
They kept me over night breathing oxygen, and in the morning, told me it would be all right if we continued our trip, provided we stayed in places that have 911 emergency service and call if I experienced shortness of breath, chest pain, and other symptoms. We agreed, even though we knew we would be nowhere near 911 service at several places we would be visiting, and off we went to Grant’s Pass Oregon.
Grant’s Pass is, to put it mildly, the strangest city I’ve ever visited. It’s located on the side of a mountain and occupies the openings of several ravines. Interstate 5 winds around the city and six or seven exits from that highway provide access to various areas of the town. By the time we got there, it was dark, so naturally, we got lost. A cellphone call to Bruno brought him to where we were, and we followed him to where he and Christine live. We had a wonderful visit, especially when our son Josh and his family stopped by on their way from Seattle, where they visited one of his friends from his college days, to the land of the big trees in California. It was the first time Christine had met Josh’s wife and kids, and she was very excited to see them.
The next day, we went on to California, and were awestruck at the size and the age of the trees. One tree, called “the big tree,” was particularly interesting, because it is estimated to be 1,500 years old, which means it began its life about the same time that the Roman Empire was collapsing in Europe, under siege by Germanic tribes such as Vandals, Visigoths and Huns.
It was among those big trees that I had another accident. It happened when I foolishly decided to follow our younger companions down a trail to the beach. The trail began with three or four steps carved into the earth, but then it turned into a steep trail with a lot of loose rock. I immediately realized I couldn’t go any further; and realized my only option was to turn around and climb the steps back to the top. After all, there were only three steps to negotiate before I reached level ground. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of room to turn around in, so you can probably guess what happened.
I didn’t exactly fall when I turned around, but I did lose my balance, and rather than fall, I simply sat down on the next higher step. However, I sat down pretty hard, hard enough to send shock waves up my surgically reinforced spine. In addition, my body fell to the left, slamming my shoulder into a rather hard rock.
I retained enough of my dignity to allow my wife to help me up and between her and my daughter they managed to help me finish climbing to the top and proceeding to the parking lot where there was a nice bench I could sit on and and by gritting my teeth, manage to minimize groaning about the new pains I had generated.
The next day, our adventure among the giant tree came to an end. We said our goodbyes and headed back home by a different route, north to Portland, Oregon, up the Columbia River and north to Spokane, Washington, where we rode Interstate 90 to Laurel and turned toward Powell. Aside from getting lost in both Portland and Missoula, Montana, it was an uneventful trip.
The day after we arrived back home, I decided that a trip to the hospital might be a good idea. They kept me overnight as a precaution, and in the end, they decided that I wasn’t any worse for the wear. I’m home now and, despite a few new pains, I’m OK.
As I said in the beginning of this account, making this trip seemed like a good idea, and despite the wear and tear on my body and my wife’s nerves, I still think it was. There were times when we contemplated ending the trip and coming home, and I know we were taking chances with my health, but other than that, we had fun. It was important for both of us that we visited Christine, and we were able to share the wonders of those huge trees with two grandkids and their parents, and that’s always a good thing.