Saturday, June 13, 2015

The Week from Hell

Disclaimer: I'm not sorry for how long this post is. I AM sorry for the stupid formatting, making it difficult to read. I absolutely cannot figure out how to fix the problem.

Remember how in one of my Icelandic Adventure posts I wrote that a certain hillside wasn't the hill from hell, but more like the hill from heck because it was mostly just uncomfortable and inconvenient?

Yeah. I'm going full hell on this one. The Week from Hell.

My week started as many people's week does: on a Sunday. I was in Boise, Idaho visiting D where he lives now for work. We had a great weekend and he was scheduled to drop me off at the airport around 6:30 for my 8:05 flight on Alaska Airlines. We left the house around 4:30 with the intention of hitting up REI so I could help D pick some stuff out for camping, then we'd go to dinner, then he'd drop me off. I'd fly to Seattle, land around 8:35, then catch my 9:20 flight to San Diego.

Or so I thought.

We went to REI as planned, then drove to the restaurant we chose for dinner because we were desperate for burgers. As we were pulling up into the parking lot, I got a call from an unknown number. Normally I wouldn't answer such a call, but my spidey-senses were tingling and I answered. It was a very nice lady from Alaska Airlines telling me that my flight was canceled. Awesome. She asked, "How close are you to the airport...? We can get you on a 6:47 flight on Delta Airlines to Seattle." I looked at the time. It was 5:45 and we were about 10 minutes away. I told her yes we could make it and to please book that flight for me. D, disappointed that we would NOT be getting burgers, sadly drove me to the airport. 

I'm just gonna use a list from here on out, because my evening got super convoluted. 

1. D dropped me off at the airport around 6:00 PM. I went directly to the Delta desk. I talked to a very nice lady, who told me that I am not on any of their flights and that I need to talk to Alaska Airlines. 

2. I went to talk to Alaska Airlines and they told me that I was never booked for the Delta flight. They removed me from the canceled flight and told me to go talk to Delta to book my Delta flight. 

3. I talked to Delta, and got on the flight. By then it was 6:20, and the flight was scheduled for 6:47. I asked how far the gate is from the desk, and I was told not to worry because the flight was delayed. It was leaving at 7:50. Phew! That would still get me to Seattle earlier than my original flight! I happily headed to my gate, which was all the way at the end of the concourse (naturally.).

4. I got to my gate and ate a burger (I was hellbent on eating a burger, sorry D). Around 20 minutes later, the flight was delayed even more and was leaving at 8:13. That still got me to Seattle by 8:45-ish. A 35-minute layover was do-able, but I'd have to run to get all the way across the airport (of course my gates were at the opposite ends of the airport. It would be SO BORING if they were right next to each other, and I wouldn't have gotten my daily dose of adrenaline). I changed out of my sandals and put on my trail running shoes.

5. Airport staff brought out a fold-able table and put out free pizza, coffee, and water to try to mitigate some of the inconvenience of the late flight. I was by now very suspicious. I went up to the Delta desk, where the delay time changed to 8:50. Huh. That gave me a 0-minute layover in Seattle. I don't know how to teleport yet, so that was a problem. I asked the gentleman at the desk what I should do. He suggested that I go to the next concourse over and talk to Alaska Airlines again. Good thing I had put on my comfortable shoes.

6. I arrived at the Alaska Airlines desk at 8:00 PM, where I spoke to another very nice lady. It took some phone calls and figuring out the computer system, but she got me on a flight with U.S. Airways to Phoenix at 8:55, with a one-hour layover, and then I would go on to San Diego and arrive around midnight. That was totally fine by me. She booked my flight with apologies and a promise to e-mail me a $125 voucher towards another flight on Alaska Airlines for the inconvenience. Sweet.

7. My new flight on U.S. Airways is literally the gate next to my original Delta gate, so I walked all the way back over there and check in at the desk. As my new boarding passes were being printed, the nice gentleman asked me, "Now, the person at Alaska Airlines DID tell you that the flight from Phoenix to San Diego is completely full and you're the fifth person on the stand-by list, riiiight?" No. No she did not. I asked him worst case scenario, what would happen? He said I'd have to stay the night in Phoenix to try to catch a flight to San Diego the next day... the only problem being that all of those flights were completely booked, too. Neat. In a moment of frustrated desperation, I look at him with sad puppy eyes and ask, "What should I do?" He told me that he was checking me OUT of the U.S. Airways flight and I should go back to talk with Alaska Airlines.

8. It's 8:40. I was now back at the Alaska Airlines desk, talking to the nice lady and a nice gentleman (with a fabulous mustache). I relayed to them that the Phoenix flight was full and so were all the flights tomorrow. The gentleman had overheard the entire original conversation I'd had with the nice lady, and he paused for a moment. He very slowly asked, "So what can we do for you?" I paused. After a moment, I firmly said, "You can get me on the first Alaska Airlines flight out of here tomorrow morning. And a direct flight would be really nice." After some furious typing and furrowed brows, he told me there's a direct flight from Boise to San Diego on Alaska Airlines at 7:30 AM on Monday morning, he got me a window seat in the first row, and by the way, here are some vouchers for free breakfast because of the inconvenience. I said, "That'll do, pig" collected my things, and texted D to come pick me up and have a beer ready for me at his house.

So I got an extra night with D, and I wasn't really terribly inconvenienced because no one expected me at work in the morning. I had blocked off the morning hours and booked a vet appointment for Loki (which I obvs canceled). I feel that every person who travels by air somewhat regularly has to go through the experience of canceled/delayed/FUBARed flight, and it was my turn. I was very polite to every person who helped me, and Alaska Airlines was willing to move heaven and earth to get me on a flight home.


But that's not the end of my Week from Hell story. Oh no. I consider the airline issue to be a minor inconvenience compared to the rest of the week. Like stubbing your toe or burning the toast.

Fast forward one day to Tuesday. I was on a bird survey with a co-worker and it was hot. Like 90+ degrees and humid hot. We were down on this river bottom with steep hills on either side, and no breeze, so it felt kinda like we were ants and some giant kid was holding a giant magnifying glass on us and was burning us with evil lasers. I was drinking regular water and water with an electrolyte tablet in it, but I was definitely overheating. I overheat very easily and am susceptible to heat exhaustion, so I told my co-worker I was heading up the hill. About 10 steps in it hit me hard and fast; I was dizzy, nauseated, light-headed, and sweating buckets. I stopped and my co-worker asked if I was ok. I told her that I was not, but I was going to power through and get to the top of the hill before I really couldn't go any further. I finally made it to the top and started pouring water over my head and arms, and drinking a ton. Blech. Heat exhaustion sucks. 

We got back to the office and I had to stick around for a couple more hours to wrap some things up, and I was NOT feeling well. When I got home it was sweet, blissful, cold shower time. At this point I had drank more than a liter of water, but I still had a headache and began to have abdominal cramps and my skin was still hot and overly-sensitive to the touch (like that achy feeling you get when you have a fever). I took my shower and felt a little better, took some ibuprofen for the headache, and was in bed and asleep by 7:30 PM. 

When I woke up Wednesday morning, I still had the headache and my skin still felt feverish. Odd, since I drank so much the day before. Obviously I hadn't caught up, so I started drinking lots of water. Every once in a while throughout the day I would have a pang of pain in my abdomen, right near my belly button and a little to the right. It would spasm for a few seconds and then go away. Weird, right? I had a bird survey in the morning, then a break for a few hours, then an owl survey in the evening. I powered through despite really not feeling well, got home, drank more water, went to bed early again. 

Thursday morning arrived at 1:00 AM when I was getting stronger abdominal cramps which woke me. I sipped water here and there, and didn't really sleep much until my alarm went off at 5:00 AM. Weeee another bird survey! I headed out, did my bird survey, then went back to the office. My headache was gone, but my skin was still really sensitive to the touch, and I was super lethargic. I texted some folks in the morning saying that I really wasn't feeling well and I was wondering if I should try to see a doctor at this point. I was told GO TO THE DOCTOR YOU FOOL (my wording, not theirs), so around 11:00 AM I walked over to the Urgent Care center that is one block away from my office. They don't take my insurance. Fabulous. I called my Primary Care Physician. He's on vacation. COOL. I sort of desperately asked to see any one of the other doctors in that office that day and I got squeezed in for a 1:40 appointment (thank you Angel of Mercy and Scheduling). 

I headed straight home, picked up a few things, and went to the doctor. After hearing my symptoms and taking my temperature (100 degrees, yup, definitely have had a fever for two and a half days), he tells me that I really should go to the ER and get a scan to make sure I don't have appendicitis. Holy shit crap. Appendicitis. 

The ER was only two blocks away, so I found a close (free) parking spot and walked myself in. The nurses at the check in area were super busy and not paying attention to me at all; there wasn't even a place to sign in. Finally after several minutes one of them asked why I'm there and I tell them that I just saw a doctor and he thinks I might have appendicitis. Those must have been the magic words because I whisked into the office for paperwork and then whisked into the bathroom for a pee sample, and then whisked into a bed in the ER where they stole four vials of my blood and stuck an IV in my arm (first one ever!). At this point my temperature was 102 degrees, and I was told NO BLANKET FOR YOU. Fine, I was sweating buckets anyway. 

The guy in the space next to me (separated by a curtain) needed to have a chest x-ray done, so one of the x-ray technicians came over and put one of those huge lead aprons over me... and then totally forgot and left it there. My nurse came over and didn't even bat an eye at the lead apron. She decided to hook my IV up to a bag of fluids, which was cold going in, and she handed me a miniature bucket of crushed ice and a liter of some mystery yellow liquid. I was told that I need to drink the entire liter in 10-15 minutes because it contains a tracer that will make my insides light up like a Christmas tree when they do the CT scan. They put lemonade Crystal Lite into it to "make it taste good." which it didn't because I do not like Crystal Lite. I powered through and when I was about halfway finished I realized that I was cold. Not like "cooling down from a fever," but like "someone just left me naked out in the snow" cold. I started shivering, and I pulled my lead apron up for a little warmth. I eventually wiggled the hoodie that I had brought with me and my cell phone out from a bag of my stuff they had put behind my bed, and draped the hoodie over myself. I finished the damn drink, and then sat there. I texted and e-mailed furiously, telling everyone what was going on and not to worry, and trying to coordinate work for the next day since I obviously wasn't going to be there. 

And then I waited. 45 minutes passed by. Since I had just had a liter of glowing lemonade and the fact that my bladder is approximately the size of a kernel of corn, I was starting to feel the urge to pee. It got worse. Much worse. Nearly an hour had passed, and not one single person had been over to check on me. I was hooked to the IV and the IV bag was attached to the bed, so I was basically a prisoner. Finally, a nurse who was looking for someone else poked his head around the corner and I desperately cried HELP ME and he came over. I told him they made me drink a whole liter of liquid and then just left me there and he told me that actually I technically drank TWO liters because of the bag of fluids, which was by then empty. SNEAKY SNAKE NURSES. He set me free and I was able to walk to the bathroom. THANK THE HEAVENS ABOVE. 

Finally after a very long time, it was scan time. I was forewarned that the IV tracer that they were going to put into my system would make me feel very warm and that I would think that I was peeing myself but that I actually wasn't. They did not lie. The back of my throat got very warm, as did my lower abdomen and down my legs. Yup. Felt like pee. Was not pee. 

I got back to my bed. Because I had texted a little too enthusiastically, my phone was dead by this point, so I just sat there and tried to sleep. This was, of course, impossible because the man in the space next to me kept screaming that he had to pee and the nurse kept screaming back that he had a catheter in and he could just pee right there. Trust me, buddy, I feel ya. 

My ER doctor came in and told me he has good news and bad news (just like they do on TV!). I was really hoping that he would just laugh at me and tell I just needed to fart and to go home and everything would be fine, but that's not what he told me. He started by saying that the doctors couldn't even locate my appendix on the imaging, so they were not concerned at all about appendicitis. Phew. They did, however, see that around 10 centimeters of the area where my small intestine meets my large intestine is inflamed and infected (hence the fever). Uuuuhhhh, ok? Doc tells me that they suspect it's some sort of inflammatory bowel disease (colitis of Crohn's) and they are recommending a colonoscopy. He sends me home with ibuprofen, tylenol, and an antibiotic, and told me not to go to work on Friday, and probably Monday, too. 

And that's where I am. Yesterday (Friday) was quite painful. I feel significantly better this morning, but still definitely not tip-top. And I get to have my first colonoscopy before I turn 30... how's THAT for a 30 before 30 item?! "Juice cleanses" ain't got nothin on this, I am going to be squeaky clean from mouth to the other end. Try not to be jealous. 

Also, since this is technically a blog about Loki, here's an update. He's molting and looks quite bedraggled as a result, and he's very grumpy about it all. That is all. 

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