Three Days, Two Hospitals .. Part I

I wrote a little while ago about the postponement of a trip I had been planning to take as a mini-vacation prior to my wife’s deployment to Sicily for either a few weeks or a few months (depending on which way the wind was blowing at the time, apparantly). Just me, my motorcycle, and some camping gear. Ah, bliss!

Well, I finally left on Tuesday last week, just around midday. Everything had been thought of, and nearly nothing left behind accidentally, so I had a good trip from Colorado Springs to Gunnison. The weather was not nearly as hot as it had been on the original dates I planned for, and the rain held off completely. I stopped for a cup of tea and a camp-stove meal after passing the prison-laden Canon City area (the locals decided there was better business in prisons than in universities when they were offered the choice in the 19th century, and they may have been right). The mining heritage of the area is very much on display on the ride to Gunnison, and there is a bit of a chilly climb over Monarch Pass to 11,312ft / 3,348m (where I declined to pay good money to be carried a fraction higher, but did have my photo taken by vacationing German school teacher).

So all was going swimmingly, with the occasional stop to clean bugs from the visor, and I was in Gunnison well before dark.

I had booked a place in a campground, and it took me a little time to find the place — it’s so difficult to judge the scale of some of these towns from maps, and you end up shooting through the far side of them while you’re still looking for the middle.

As I road up to the gate of the campground I felt a sharp tap on my neck, followed by a suprisingly painful sting. It’s a long time since I’ve been stung, but I suppose that the bee ricocheted off my neck into the collar of my riding jacket, and reacted accordingly. It didn’t have much time to regret the situation further, needless to say. But any campground worth its salt carries medications for these things, and I browsed the stock while a confusing discussion was concluded between a visitor and the receptionist on the topic of whether a license was required for fishing. No matter, I found the ointment and dabbed some on while waiting.

As often seems to be the case the person who took my reservation had mangled both my name and the name of the street I live on, so I had to discuss that for a while as well, and I noticed a not-unpleasant tingling in my fingers and face while doing so. Looking back, the difficulty I had understanding the words coming out of the receptionists mouth were a pretty strong clue that either he was speaking Albanian or my brain wasn’t really working properly, but the matter resolved itself in one way when I suddenly woke-up and found myself lying on the floor of the campground office feeling pleasantly relxed, albeit with something of a headache coming on. “That was odd” I thought, and may even have said, as I stood back up. “Are you alright?” said the reception person, who seemed to be holding a telephone in his hand by then. “Um …” I said, and promptly woke up on the floor again.

Now, I can’t remember passing out before, but as a way of getting a quick nap I heartily recommend it. None of that long and drawn out search for a comfortable position, adjusting pillows and blankets, wondering what is causing that green blinking light from the bathroom (electric toothbrush?) or whatever, just *snap* and out you go.

This farcical fall-down-get-up-fall-down routine might have continued for a while had I not been awoken by a dim and dark blue policeman-like shape kneeling over me, asking how I was feeling and explaining that the approaching siren noise was an ambulance. I was lifted on to one of those mobile bed things (well done those men), slotted into the ambulance and driven off (no sirens) to the Gunnison Memorial Hospital, while answering questions on my comings and goings of the day and whether I had any interesting medical history behind me.

At the hospital I was loaded up with steroids, anti-histamines, adrenaline and fluids, and had rather a nice time of it recovering under a hot blanket. One of the benefits of being a military dependent is that in a medical emergency you don’t have to be treated by a military medical facility (hooray!) and you also have no co-payments to make (double-hooray!). So after I had presented my military dependent’s ID card I could just relax, safe in the knowledge that no bill would be presented back for my consideration.

Diagnosis: Probable vasovagal reaction to bee sting. In other words, I fainted. Technically, several times.

I was discharged from the hospital at around 9pm, and as there is no taxi service in Gunnison one of the nurses kindly gave me a lift back to the campsite. Gunnison is a very cold place overnight, so I thanked the reception person for his prompt phone call to the emergency services and rode off to find a hotel instead. Looking back, I may not have been quite myself as I promptly took the first wrong-turn opportunity and rode for ten minutes directly away from the glow of the town’s streetlights, narrowly avoiding a deer strike to boot. I then rode back through town and out the far side for another five minutes. After about half an hour I found one of the many hotels that are unavoidably placed alongside the town’s major thoroughfare, and settled down for the night.

Oh, I had a pretty interesting phone call with SWMBO also.

Next episode: Change of plans, a promising start, and another hospital.

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