Early in the morning a doctor walks into a hospital room at the University of Arizona Medical Center to give an update to a patient. I have been admitted for severe dehydration and beginning stages of starvation. After four days of illness at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument I drove myself to an emergency room in Tucson, Arizona. What I thought was a simple case of dehydration turns out to be a stomach virus that caused me to become dehydrated and threw my body into starvation mode. The doctor informs me that after receiving IV fluids for about 18 hours, my blood counts and blood pressure and all other body functions appear to be operating at appropriate levels. I am told if I can keep down a liquid breakfast and a regular hospital lunch I can be discharged. I think if I can keep down a hospital lunch I should be discharged with an award.
About mid-morning, a staff person arrives with a yummy tray of liquids. I examine it carefully and realize I am STARVING (literally). Using a spoon, I take a small sip of a yellowish broth and it is delightfully delicious! Dropping the spoon, I pick up the bowl and drink every drop of the salty, hot, tasty soup. I truly believe that broth was the best tasting food I have ever had. The kitchen staff at the University of Arizona Medical Center should have their own cooking show. I move on to the next item on the tray, Cream of Wheat. With no hesitation I swallow every bite, scraping the sides of the bowl for more. Not being a fan of Jello, I give a little pause, but the Jello is soon devoured. Having greedily eaten my first meal in four days, I now have enough energy to take a shower.
A nurse appears to remove the IV and to ask if the truly delicious breakfast of liquids has remained in my belly. I happily reply yes and ask for permission to take a shower. She agrees that this is an excellent idea (probably because I haven’t bathed or washed my hair in three days and no telling what I smell like). The nurse shows me a small bucket with a few toiletry items like shampoo, body wash, a toothbrush, and toothpaste. Even though I am so weak I can barely raise my arms to wash my hair, I manage to take a 15 minute shower without having to sit. And I feel rejuvenated, revived, and exhausted. I dress in the beautiful, tie-in-the-back, hospital gown and climb back into bed to await the arrival of my beautiful husband.
Arriving at the Tucson airport after an early morning flight from Dallas, Stephen takes a taxi cab to the hospital. Upon asking for my room number, he is told I am not there. He is at the correct hospital, wrong campus. He calls for another taxi and finally arrives at my bedside. I am so ecstatic to see him! My hero has come to rescue me and take me home, promising to drive the entire 952 miles from Tucson to Dallas. I am very grateful to have a precious husband that loves me so much that he encourages me in my independence and yet does not hesitate to step in when I truly need him. We really are a perfect match!
By now the “regular” hospital lunch has arrived. This is the last obstacle to my release from hospital lock-down. The challenge is to eat as much as I can and not throw it up. I remove the cover and Stephen and I stare at the overcooked roast beef with jiggly gravy, the frozen green beans, and the blob of mashed potatoes with more jiggly gravy. He encourages me with “come on, I know you can do this” but his eyes exhibit doubt. I gently approach the potatoes first. Not that bad; soft, not too salty, I can eat this! Next,is the roast beef. I manage half a slice. The green beans will remain neglected on the plate. I cannot abide frozen vegetables. I give Stephen the chocolate chip cookies. Having now eaten a liquid meal and a normal meal without regurgitating, I am good to go!
No longer starving or dehydrated, with excellent blood pressure and very good blood counts, I am finally discharged and free to leave Tucson, Arizona. Stephen bundles me into the passenger seat of my Toyota Camry, adjusts the drivers seat for his long legs and the long drive home, and asks the navigation system how to get to I-10 and Dallas, Texas.