Bill and Cathy McArthur on the Road 2007: 1

  This is the first report of our winter travels for 2007. January 1 found us in Cumming, GA, where we attended the Peach Bowl. See "Happy Holidays 2006" to see what events preceded this trip. It was a beautiful morning with a sparkling blue sky. Bill got an opportunity to pull both granddaughters around the neighborhood in Sarah's wagon. Katie, Tom, and Rachel left for home during mid-morning. The rest of us got busy taking down all indoor and outdoor Christmas decorations until lunchtime. We also kept a close eye on Penn State's victory over Tennessee in the Outback Bowl. Bill found time to do his first crossword puzzle of the year by sneaking off for a half hour. We kept bowl games going all afternoon and into the night and sometimes had an opportunity to watch for a while. Son Bill and Stacey slipped away during late afternoon to go to a movie and have a quiet dinner out together. We had a good time playing with Sarah and watching the Rose Bowl. Bill actually got Sarah a bit interested in the game. Bill seemed to watch the game intently, but didn't have any comments. Bill used to be a USC fan as a kid and wondered if Billy favored them over Michigan. Cathy kept things organized with the kids until Bill and Stacey returned home. We watched Boise State embarrassing Oklahoma before turning in before the game was over. On Tuesday, January 2, we awoke shortly after 6:00 AM, ate breakfast, cleaned up after ourselves, and headed down the road. We didn't go too far, just to Publix for a restocking of the RV. Then we drove to another shopping center where Bill bought some accessories for his new phone, a hand-me-down from Katie, and Cathy got a haircut. It was about 11:00 AM before we headed toward Alabama. We decided to stop at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa for a couple of hours. We walked around campus a bit in the warm sunshine and visited the Bear Bryant Museum. They sure love his memory there! Our electronic navigator took us right by the football stadium on our way out of town. We only drove about 20 more miles and stopped at a campground in Knoxville, Alabama for the night. On Wednesday, January 3, we were reminded that "the best laid plans" do not guarantee their fulfillment. We left at first light and continued west on I20. We stopped at a Cracker Barrel as usual; Cathy deviated from the usual oatmeal breakfast and went with a scrambled eggs special. Traffic was light and fast, so we made good time. We stopped at a mall in Monroe, LA to get a Starbucks cappuccino for Bill and lunch for Cathy, who felt like having vegetables and got a plate of steamed vegetables and rice at a Chinese food stand in the food court. Bill ate a couple of pieces of celery and two forkfuls of rice. As soon as we returned to the RV, Bill had a mild bout of diarrhea. We reentered I20 and headed west. We had decided to stop in a high quality campground so as to have cable TV for the evening's Sugar Bowl game (LSU vs. ND) and also one that had wi-fi so we could catch up on email. Cathy called ahead to the Shreveport KOA and made a reservation for the night. About an hour after lunch, Cathy was stricken with severe cramps and a faint feeling; she headed back to the bathroom. Somewhat later, she called out that we needed to pull over. Luckily, there was rest area within a mile, so we pulled in. Cathy was in bad shape and couldn't leave the bathroom for a while. Bill kept offering sips of water throughout her ordeal. Cathy noticed a trace of blood just before we got back on the road with her on the couch in the back of the RV. We had about an hour's drive to the campground, where Bill checked-in and got propane. Cathy made frequent trips to the bathroom. Bill plugged in the electricity and cable TV at the campsite. Cathy called out and told Bill that she was passing a lot of blood. Bill decided not to take any chances and went to the office to find out the location of the nearest hospital with an emergency room. The KOA office was very helpful with the information that the Willis Knighton Medical Center about 6 miles away was the closest. Bill called and ascertained that they had an emergency room. The owner of the KOA, Tom Landis, volunteered to drive us to the hospital and did so. We arrived at the emergency room around 5:30 PM and had the usual sequence of triage, registration, and a long wait. Cathy suffered with cramping during the time in the waiting room. We finally got to an examining room around 7:00 PM. We were in that room for the entire length of the Sugar Bowl. A doctor examined Cathy and discovered that the blood was still present in her intestine. In consultation with a gastro-enterologist, they decided to admit Cathy to the hospital and schedule a colonoscopy for the morning. Cathy had decided two years previous that she wouldn't have another colonoscopy because of the discomfort of the required intestinal purging the night before the procedure. But, after she was admitted to room 323, she was faced with the prospect of drinking a gallon of purging liquid in a couple of hours. She was hooked to an IV, so the frequent dashes to the bathroom were awkward and slow. Meanwhile, Bill settled in on a couch which converted to a small bunk. We both spent a long, uncomfortable night. Cathy got her colonoscopy on Thursday morning and returned to her room. We waited until afternoon to meet with her doctor. He showed us pictures of the procedure which showed a lot of blood. He had taken some tissue samples from a bad area he had discovered. He said that he would put Cathy on an anti-biotic and wanted her to stay overnight so that her blood count and other signs could be monitored. By mid-afternoon, neither of us had eaten anything since lunch the previous day. Bill called Tom at the KOA and asked for a ride back to the campground. Bill stayed at the RV from 2:30 to 4:00 PM, took a hot shower, and ate a couple of jelly sandwiches. Bill packed some clothing and other items for Cathy and got a ride back to the hospital from Tom. Cathy called her sister Marianne, our family medical consultant, and explained the situation. Marianne reminded her that her friends the Barretts were living in Shreveport, where he was practicing surgery. Within a half hour, Dr. Barrett and his wife arrived at Cathy's hospital room. We all remembered each other from the days when the Barretts lived in Florida. Dr. Barrett had looked at Cathy's records and he told us that a good friend of his was practicing intestinal surgery at the same hospital, in case Cathy subsequently needed that. He also said that he would contact Cathy's doctor. We noted a big positive shift in attitude of the nursing staff after the Barrett's left. Bill went down to eat a light dinner in the cafeteria, using one of two meal tickets presented by the hospital social worker. We spent another uncomfortable night in the hospital room. On Friday morning, we wondered where was the anti-biotic. Cathy's blood pressure was a bit low, but her blood count was evidently holding steady. Bill went to the cafeteria for breakfast. Later in the morning, Bill took a walk on a road by the hospital into an area of bleak poverty and then returned to lunch at the cafeteria. Cathy finally got started with her anti-biotic on an IV drip after asking the doctor and the nurses. The doctor wanted Cathy to remain overnight again to monitor her and also until the results of the tissue samples were available on Saturday. We decided that we better commit to staying in the area for at least a week. Bill called Budget near the airport to rent a car for a week and then called KOA to reserve the campsite for another week. We called Alex, who was at home, and explained the situation. Bill emailed Katie and asked her to call. When Katie called later, she got the lengthy explanation. Bill got a pickup from Budget, rented a small Ford, and drove to the campground. Bill emailed Son Bill and asked him to call. Bill ate jelly sandwiches again and attended to emails on the computer. Son Bill called and Bill provided him with the explanation of our status. Bill hung around and chilled out during the remainder of the evening and slept in the RV overnight. On Saturday morning, Bill called Cathy at about 7:30 AM. She advised him to seek a Starbucks for breakfast and he found one nearby. Then Bill drove the rental car to the hospital. We waited for quite a while. Dr. Bhatia, Cathy's doctor, came in and released her with a couple of prescriptions and strong advice to avoid Cajun food. We finally left the hospital about noon. We drove to Walmart and got Cathy's prescriptions filled. Bill bought a 1 GB mini-card for his phone at Radio Shack. Then, we went to Becca's restaurant for lunch. Bill enjoyed an excellent, hot Crawfish Etoufee. Cathy had to settle for a bland chicken sandwich. We finally got Cathy back to the RV around 2:00 PM. We talked with Alex and Bill and left a message with Katie, letting them know that Cathy was out of the hospital. Cathy has a couple of followups for next week. We walked around the campground for a while and attended to some campsite chores. Bill made an excellent pasta dinner. We viewed "The Good Girl" on DVD; it was a waste of a good cast. It rained very hard for most of the night.

        Bill and Cathy