Those of you that read, My best trip to the hospital report, might recall how I turned a trip to the hospital into a little more fun by leaving 8 days early and exploring the dirt roads from Montana to Moab with my 3 year old girl Lexie.
This is a sequel to that adventure and different because this one actually started from the hospital. It wasn't meant to be that way, but sometimes life takes a bad turn and your left with a decision, turns out I made the right one but this is how it all started....
Things are going well for me and my little girl, she is happy, healthy, and basking in the holiday ambiance. I'm thinking ahead to the next morning, hoping I have all my ducks in a row for the early departure to Death Valley. Later I have to drop my girl off with the ex-wife and her family so she can hang out until I pick her up at about 5:00am and head South.
I call my travel partner and explain that all systems are go, then start my final packing which lasts until about 11p.m. What happens next is one of the most horrible feelings I've ever felt... My phone rings and all I can hear is the ex-wife sobbing and screaming hysterically in the background, the voice on the phone is my daughters aunt and she is telling me that Lexie isn't breathing her lips are blue.
Those words hit like a gun shot to the chest, I said call 9-1-1, and do CPR. She said they called but didn't know how to do CPR, I was already in my truck and bouncing off the rev limiter before I knew it, luckily the streets were clear because I was certainly exceeding 80mph through parts of town and doing everything I could to close the 5 mile gap to my daughter. All I could see was the image of her, the rest was a blur of lights. The trucks engine was screaming, its tires growling as it frantically tried to hold the slick corners. I felt surreal and calm as I changed gears and feathered the clutch, I remember feeling guilty that I could keep my composure during this and then I was there, bailing out of an almost stopped truck and scrambling to the house.
The first thing I heard after charging through the door was my daughter crying away. Thank you God, that's the sweetest thing I've ever heard. A couple minutes later the paramedics arrived and checked things out. They said it was probably a febrile seizure so we took her to the hospital to get her checked out.
They start doing urine and blood work and shoot her up with antibiotics, this isn't the first time the mystery infection has bit her, just the hardest. After awhile she starts feeling much better and her temps come down. I'm a little shocked that she has had another spell because things have been great for quite sometime. The previous trip TO the hospital in Salt Lake had offered great encouragement and a new medicine that had been working wonders. They did say this could happen however, and the next step would be surgery, but surgery would have to wait until the infection had cleared.
So now I'm sitting in the hospital on the eve of what was to be a great escape from the cold Montana winter. By all accounts the trip was off right? Who would leave with a kid this sick and who would let somebody take their kid in this condition? I was in a conundrum, I can't leave my kid, I can't take my kid, the trip is a bust... I better call my friend and break the news.
Screw that I thought, I'll just take her with me. I'll head South and If her condition starts failing, I'll take her to the nearest hospital. If her condition remains iffy, I'll stay out of the park and take her to a hospital. If we are in the wilderness will figure it out. Before you declare me insane you must know that I had an ace in the hole. My pal is a paramedic and would do anything for a friend in need without hesitation. Knowing he would have a separate and reliable rig along with medical knowledge (his wife is a doctor), allowed me to come to this decision. There is no way I would have ventured on without knowing somebody would be there to help get my girl to help if she needed it.
Now I just had to get the doctor and my ex-wife on board with this beautiful plan.... Oh no they said, not a chance. You can't take a girl camping by yourself in this condition, she can go home with you, but please don't consider a trip to death valley. I explained that I would be accompanied by a paramedic and a doctor (the doctor part was a little white lie, she wanted to come but couldn't because of work), the ER doctor skeptically raised his brow and defensively stated, "who's the doctor?" I told him. "In that case go for it!" he said impressed. A few more reassuring lies later to the ex and we were off to go meet Wardrow.
I wasn't sure how my friend would take the recent events and the prospect of heading South with a sick child, but he smiled and said lets do it, and that was that.
The nice thing about a regular cab Tacoma is that Lexie gets to sit right next to me. I could watch her every breath, take her temp and administer meds on the fly. It was really quite simple, every 30 minutes take her temp, every 4 hrs give her tylenol, and every 6 hrs motrin until the fever subsided. Antibiotic 1 was given 3 times a day, antibiotic 2 happened twice a day. Keep her hydrated and eating and everything should be fine. The reality was, I was worried sick.
I don't remember much about the drive down other than pushing the nearest hospital button on my GPS for some kind of reassurance. Lexie slept most the way and I chattered with Wardrow a bit on the radio. One thing about planning a trip right after Christmas is that its very hard to finalize the logistics of it while managing all the shopping and family plans. Normally I'm a great procrastinater that rallies at the end, but this was beyond me. I knew about where the park was and that was it.
We ended up about 150 miles outside the park that night. Lexie was still pushing a fever and tired. My paramedic friend reassured me that he would be ready to evacuate us if needed. Despite the long drive I couldn't sleep, I couldn't take my eyes of this girl. I would just think about how she was doing great one minute then almost comatose with a 106 fever the next. Eventually the sun came up and Lexie woke with a smile! I could tell she was on the road to recovery and she was ecstatic about waking up in the desert. I knew at this point I had made the right decision.
The entrance into Death Valley is not what I had expected. I assumed that a park in California would be full of rangers signs and visitor centers. We actually drove by the ticket kiosk thinking it couldn't possibly be an official entrance to the park! We got it figured out and soon we were shedding clothes and basking in the sweet December heat.
After entering the park from the East we headed North and camped early to enjoy the drastic change of weather we had experienced in 24hrs. I was thrilled that the park seemed undeveloped and uncrowded. Lexie drove her little RC car in the sand while my friend cooked and I relaxed.
The next day we found ourselves in great spirits as we headed for the Northern border of the park. We ended up taking a few wrong turns that lead to dead ends, which I've found translates into the right scenery and lots of fun.
That last one is looking down on the Eureka sand dunes were we later had a nice hike. A woman walked up to us while we were having a snack and motioned to My friends jeep and in a most comical English accent said, "Well that's a bit dir-ty rugged isn't it!" Dirty rugged became the theme for the next few days as we explored rugged ridges and dirty valleys