A Trip of a Lifetime ((part 2)) – Time to Fly

A Trip of a Lifetime ((part 2)) – Time to Fly

I left off with alarms sounding in my heart. If you haven’t read the first section of “our story”, you can catch up by starting here. But let me interject one important part of this story that occurred an hour before I learned Shepy couldn’t urinate.


My mom called me and said “I have something to tell you and you are not going to like what I have to say.” My heart suddenly pumped what felt like ice to my hands, feet and head. My hearing became keenly aware of each word that followed. “Dad is in the hospital. He is having more chest pains, they will be doing and angiogram in about three hours.”


For those of you who don’t know, my dad had a massive heart attack on October 23, 2013. My heart quakes as I recall that time. To make a long story short – the waves around me were progressively peaking. I hung up from mom after a short conversation and cried. I called two of my dear friends. I expounded on Shepy’s illness and my dad’s hospitalization and we prayed, specifically and fervently. As the prayers ended, David returned with the phenagrin and I gave Shep his first dose.


I felt relief knowing Shepy would no longer feel nausea. I told David about my dad – I cried. Shep interrupted my tears to let me know he needed to use the bathroom and couldn’t. “Poo – you mean you need to poo and can’t?” I asked. “No, mom I mean pee – I need to pee really bad and can’t.”


…and with that, I found the San Juan Islands phone book.  I remember searching frantically but every category I tried led me to another category. The sounds around me faded, my focus was fully on the words in that book and my need to find help. I felt like my thoughts and fingers could only move in one speed “slow”. Finally, I had a number, actually – I had three numbers.


I dialed the first number – not knowing what the person on the other end would say or even if they could provide me with the help I knew we needed. She said Hello ((and identified her place of business I am sure- but I don’t recall that detail)). I quickly told her my problem, Shepy’s symptoms and my concern over his inability to urinate. “I think it could be a bladder or UT infection…could we draw labs on him and get an antibiotic??” I pressed.


“Well,” she said, “the earliest our office can fit you in is 4:30 and our labs have already been collected and flown over to the mainland for the day. You will need help quicker than that – let me put you on hold and call the other offices and see if I can get you in any earlier…it sounds like you shouldn’t wait.”

After a few minutes on hold, she returned with an appointment: 2:45 with Dr. Shinstrom, “But” she said, do not wait until then. They want you to come immediately and they will fit you in between patients. Do you know how to get there?” ((NO)). She continued by giving me detailed directions and her phone number. She urged for me to call if I got lost.


Zach ((one of David’s cousins)) instinctively offered to join me. We could both see Shep was struggling to walk and Zach knew I needed help. Shepy loves his Zach and immediately, I could see his eyes light up at the prospect of being with Zach.

We loaded up and miraculously made it right to Dr. Shinstrom’s door. A few minutes of paperwork and we were immediately ushered into an exam room. Dr. Shinstrom entered, followed by his dog and a third year medical student. I explained the situation and my assumption of his diagnosis.

He laid Shep out on the exam table and gently pressed every region of his abdomen. His lower right quadrant (LRQ) hurt, his lower left quadrant hurt (LLQ), his belly button hurt … everything hurt. I felt a minor wave of the same relief I felt the night before when I realized the very same thing – his entire belly hurt, not just his LRQ. “It can’t be appendicitis” I thought to myself.


Then the doctor did something that seemed strange to me ((of course I am no doctor so many things could seem strange, I suppose)). He asked my sick boy who had a temperature of 103.1° to stand up and jump on one leg. Shep couldn’t do it. At this point I am thinking, “What sick joke is this – my boy is sick, probably extremely dehydrated, in pain and exhausted — of course he can’t jump on one leg!”.

The doctor asked Shep to return to laying on the table and turned to me. “He has failed every one of my tests – and that’s not good. I believe he has appendicitis.”

I was standing when he said these words to me. I know this because I remember being glad there was a chair to catch me as I slumped down.


The next words the doctor spoke to me were extremely serious. “You need to get to the mainland. A ferry leaves at 5 o’clock. You will be on that ferry.”

Alarms sounded in my heart again, harder and louder than before. “Dr. Shinstrom” I said, “Alarms are going off in my heart. I believe we need to fly – we need a plane.”


“I agree with that.” he replied and left the room to make arrangements. My heart sank further as I texted these words to my closest dear ones: “appendix – flying to hospital.” ((to be continued))