Friday, October 10, 2014

We are alive and well

I wanted to start with this title to save those racing ahead to see how things ended.  Sorry for the lack of photos, this will be all narrative.  I also apologize for the length of this, but writing it down is cathartic for me and helps to calm my mind.

We drove our short distance into Tillamook and planned to set up camp and then take in one of the attractions in the area.  It's pretty and our campground is very affordable, but the weather's turning colder and we want to get further south.

Left Brain turned the corner and we were only about six miles away from our destination when I noticed him reaching down for something.  Now what's he fiddling with I wondered.  So I started to nag, as I'm prone to do, and asked him what he needed...could I get or do something for him.

He didn't answer me, of course, I'm used to that.  He often can't hear me and just as often chooses not to respond.  Either that or he does and I can't hear him....oh the joys of getting old.

Now his right arm is almost to the floor and he's completely unattentive so my nagging increases with reminders to pay attention to what he's doing.  Then he crosses the center line.

By this time I'm screaming at him that he's in the wrong lane.  He responds by remaining silent and laying his head down on the steering wheel.  This isn't good....there's a sidewalk and telephone pole rapidly approaching our new course of direction.

I unbuckled my seatbelt and lunged over to grab the steering wheel, yanking it hard to the right to avoid a head on collision with the telephone pole.  All around me I hear horns honking and the screeching of brakes, but I'm alone in the midst of my single vision on that pole.  We just replaced this windshield and I didn't want to have to deal with another repair job.  Isn't it ludicrous the things that run through your mind.

Let me back up a minute to share a dream I'd had about two weeks ago, I'll keep it short.  In this dream/vision he had died and I was left alone with a motorhome I only sometimes drive and two cats...with a dead body.  I woke with the horrible sensation of "what would I do?" but he was laying next to me and everything was fine.  It was just a dream.  Or was it?

Okay, back to present reality.  He's slumped over the wheel, we're snugging the curb but haven't hit anything and nobody has hit far all is good.  My immediate fear was that he would spasm and hit the gas pedal.  Well, my immediate fear was that he was dead and this horrible dream/vision was really happening.  

I pushed his foot off the gas and somehow maneuvered my ample body where I could put my left foot on the brake and put the motorhome into park to stop all further movement.  Horns are honking somewhere in the distance and people are shouting.

At this point he sits back and asks "what happened?".  I managed to get him out of the driver's seat and into the other chair...I'm still not sure how I did that.  Then I recall jumping into the driver's seat, barefoot and no seatbelt on and starting to drive us out of that intersection.  It's all kind of a blur to me and I didn't even see the hospital on the right hand side as we went by it.  

All I could see was that it was 5 miles to our campground and I wanted to get there as quickly as I could.  But the road was windy and narrow with absolutely no shoulder on the right hand side, so my top speed was about 35 and I had several cars behind me getting madder by the minute.  Left Brain looked dazed but his eyes were open.  I pulled over at the first spot I could to let the cars pass me and finally got myself strapped into the seatbelt.  

We arrived at Big Spruce Campground and by now Left Brain is moving about and felt up to unhooking the car.  I ran in to register and find our spot, while peeking out the door to see if he was still standing.  The guy who registered us was fantastic.  He said to pay for one day, we could stay as long as needed and pay at the end and told me where to find the hospital.

It may seem odd to stop and set up our home before running to the hospital, but my heart was hammering in my chest so hard I thought I'd explode. It gave us time to assess the situation more calmly and gather our wits about us.  Thank goodness the site was a double wide pull through, so I was able to get See-More parked and after setting out food and water for the cats we got back into the car and set out for medical evaluation.

I've always wondered what would happen if we got sick on the road and now I was finding out.  We pulled into the emergency room parking and walked into the triage unit.  They got Left Brain into a room quickly to start doing a bunch of tests to see what happened.  Thankfully I've had a lot of experience being in these places with my mother, so there was no panic at the sight of all the wires and needles as they drew blood and hooked him up.

After talking to a lot of different nurses and doctors the consensus was to keep him overnight for observations and run a bunch of tests in the morning.  It's almost 3:00 now and neither or us has had lunch and I'm feeling shaky.  Knowing it will be at least an hour or two before they get him admitted to a hospital room I headed back to the RV to gather up some things for him,check the cats and find something to eat.

Downtown Tillamook I located a pizza place and got a slice for a late lunch and felt much calmer.  Then I found the quilt shop and let all the pretty things distract my mind while I waited to return to the hospital.  I finally talked about it with the ladies there as I had to unload this overwhelming emotion and I didn't want to call any of the family to get them worried until I knew what was really happening.  There is nothing as comforting as the company of other women, especially older women who have had lots of life experiences and could understand the logic of shopping in a quilt store while your husband is in the emergency room.  They even offered my return to visit just to continue the discussion if I felt a need.  Oh the sisterhood of females!

Feeling much calmer and in control now I left the parking lot of the quilt shop....going the wrong way on a one way street.  Thankfully as soon as I saw the cars coming at me I was able to pull off a side street in about half a block averting all danger....other than having some flashbacks about our near miss earlier that day.  Maybe we shouldn't be in this town.

It felt good seeing him settled into his room with the TV remote in his hand as he went through the hospital menu.  They prepare meals here on demand and serve them hot instead of waiting for a specific mealtime.  We talked a bit about how scary it was and he said he felt relieved to be in the hospital and having everything addressed.  We still are in shock at having not a scratch or dent on us or the car we were towing.  With the short distance of our drive that day I had thought about just following him in the car instead of hooking it up.  I'm glad we didn't go for that option or I would have been watching it happen from behind the motorhome and feeling completely helpless to stop it.

I headed back to the campground for a quiet evening to decompress and evaluate our next move.  Since the sun was just going down, the sky looked clear, and I had my camera I decided to take a short detour to see if I could get a nice sunset photo of the lighthouse.  Why I felt compelled to do this...I have no idea.

I'm still not sure where I went wrong, but I wandered up and down the hills through fog that was settling in as I watched the sun sink deeper and deeper.  Again the roads are windy and twisty with large dips that limit the speed to about 35 mph.  I'm out here somewhere about 15 miles the wrong direction and have no clue where I am.  I resorted to my trusty cellphone but of course in these woods there is no signal.  

I felt so totally alone and lost, not sure where I was and not sure what our future was going to look like.  I wanted to cry, but that would just impede my already limited vision.  Our wipers work but the squirter thing does not, so when the sun shone down on the windshield I could barely see. However, I didn't dare activate the wipers knowing it would only worsen it.

At some point it was as if G-d was calming me and I pulled over and thought about the analogy of my life to my current experience.  I was wandering alone and lost with no guidance and no one to talk to except Him.  I then pulled the car around and started driving the other direction.  In about 8 miles I saw the sign for the town we were staying in.  This meant I had to drive back through those dark and scary woods and I really didn't want to, but had no was the way back.

The return drive wasn't as bad as I had feared and I didn't feel lost or alone any more.  If you need to be stuck with a backseat driver, G-d's not such a bad option.

I returned safely to the RV and set up the cat tunnels so they could get a little outside time, then I hooked up the satellite...something I've never done before as that's his thing.

To my amazement I actually did it right and was able to watch TV that evening.  I usually don't care much about television but I really needed the company of voices, even if they were artificial.  Add to this a bowl of my favorite Safeway soup for total comfort food and I was feeling better.

The cats must have sensed the disquiet as I was never without one or the other (there's not room for both) on my lap.

I wish I could say I slept soundly but I found myself up and sitting again in my recliner about 1:00 lost in my thoughts.  There will be a lot of questions coming up in the near future.  Can I take over primary driving of this full-time if needed?  Should we sell this and get off the road?  Should we go "home" or find somewhere to rent long term down this way until things sort themselves out?  So many questions running through my brain at warp speed.

It is now morning, the day after as I write this...but will not post it until we know what's going on.  It's time for a shower and returning to the hospital to see what tests they are doing today and how things came out.  Stay posted.  I'll let you know more as it happens.

Long Live the Queen (and Left Brain too!)


  1. oh, my... thank you for starting off the way you did. terrifying. so many, many things could have been so much worse. as you said, if you had been driving separately. or perhaps in the rear of the RV instead of right next to left brain. i am hoping the hospital can determine what is going on so you can proceed with knowledge.

  2. I don't have any words (for a change), Cheryl. Please let us know what's going on. I'm glad you are both in good hands.

  3. Hi Cheryl, we hope Pete is doing well. We could feel the beating of your heart as we read your narrative! We're sending you a long distance hug. Our thoughts will be with you. If you choose the "home" optin there are several houses for sale in the old neighborhood. Come on back! I expect you adventurers will keep heading for new discoveries. All positive energies directed your way!!! Sue and Gary

  4. Sending warm thoughts and prayers!

  5. Thinking of the two of you. Hoping for the best.

  6. Cheryl! This is not good! Thankful, though, as it sounds like things could have been a lot worse. Sending prayers for Pete. We are anxious to hear the rest of the story. Love and hugs, Kathy & Jim.

  7. I have always known you were amazing, but what a heroine you turned out to be. I am guessing you even amazed yourself once you had a moment to look back on it ... and Left Brain has much to be thankful for not the least of which is you. My heart goes out to you and Pete ... this is a scenerio that we are all afraid of and my prayers are for all of this to have a happy ending. Once you know what you are dealing with, you will be able to proceed as appropriate. You will choose the right path, I am confident of that. Now let me comment on your story writing. I recall Annie telling you to write because you are good at it. This could be the best of fiction if it weren't true. We who are reading it are caught up in the moment as if we were there. What a wonderful catharsis for you and, at the same time, you may have discovered another talent to pursue in the process. Life is full of surprises, some good, some bad but I am confident this will have a good ending because you did all of the right things. Hugs, prayers and the power of positive thoughts all coming your way ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

  8. I'm getting ready to read your next post, but I want to let you know that I'll say a prayer for both Pete and you. This is one of the things I always dread. You did an awesome job of handling the situation. It's amazing how our minds and bodies can take over for us when we are in shock. He was riding with you, and please know that He will stay by your side through this whole thing. Big warm hugs from me, Edna B.

  9. Cheryl, I met your friend Kay Seliskar this afternoon and she told me your story and later sent me a link to this blog. What a frightening experience you had! I'm so glad there was a good end to the story, and I wish you and Pete both many more years of safe RVing together.

    By the way, I'm an instructor for the RV Driving School, and sometimes teach seminars at RV rallies. It amazes me when I hear all the excuses women have for not learning to drive their RV. Your story is a perfect example of why they need to know! Your reaction was perfect - you likely saved at least 2 lives, possibly more. Many times this kind of situation has a sad outcome.

  10. Oh, my goodness. What an experience! That is about every woman's nightmare. I am so glad you both lived to tel the tale.