posted: April 30th, 2007 | by:Bert
Bert Gildart: As indicated in previous post, this past week Janie and I traveled to Kennewick, Washington, to attend an outdoor writer’s conference. Kennewick is the home of the famous Kennewick Man, discovered along the banks of the Columbia River. Its discovery about 15 years ago set off a round of world-wide debate regarding its origin and the debate continues yet. Certainly the skull and complete skeleton are ancient, perhaps over 10,000 years old. But was the person Native American or did HE (and it was a he!) belong to some other ethnic group? At a later time, we plan to learn more about this great mystery.
However, right now we need to regroup following a bit of misfortune and take this time to express gratitude to family, friends, strangers!–and to an incredible group of medical providers.
Certainly Kennewick is home to some of the nation’s best doctors, despite the fact that the town is somewhat remote. What luck, for this past Tuesday, Janie suffered a stroke, and they were there in full force when she needed them!
Problems manifested themselves when Janie started slurring her speech, and when she did, I knew something was wrong. Parking the truck, I rushed into a nearby medical facility shouting that my wife was having a stroke. Immediately these good people went into action. They hurried to our truck with a wheelchair. They called the ambulance and within 45 minutes, Janie was in Kennewick General Hospital where a team of doctors began administering a massive clot buster known as TPA.
Later in the day, hospital administrators told me to move my Airstream from the campground parked 30 minutes away and park it in their special RV site. Interestingly, as Janie improved she could see it from her room. In that location our home-away-from-home was but a three minute walk away from Janie’s room. And wow, did our polished Airstream draw comments from the hospital staff. One doctor said our trailer added a touch of nostalgia to their hospital grounds.
One week later, and back home in Bigfork, Montana, it seems as though the lucky proximity to a medical facility and the subsequent great care administered by doctors will result in a full recovery, though there are hurtles we must yet overcome. Nevertheless, doctors say the problems will resolve themselves favorably.
Obvious some of the events Janie and I had planned to enter this year had to be postponed until next year’s conference. However, I would like to take a moment and express our gratitude at the outpouring of sympathy not only from family members but from the local community of outdoor writers who sent flowers, cards and to those who stopped by the hospital to personally express their concern.
Tana Bader Inglima, Vice President of Marketing & Public Affairs for the Tri-Cities Convention Center, made several trips to the hospital. She really had nothing to gain from these trips. She simply wanted to let me know that she would personally help in any way she could. She said she knew how difficult it must be for us as perfect strangers to the community to have such a scary problem. Well, she may have been a stranger before our trip to Kennewick, but now she’s a friend.
As well, we know that we have the support of family, friends, and neighbors. In fact, when we returned home late last night (in caravan with Janie’s sister and brother-in-law), we discovered neighbors had cut our lawn and that another neighbor had prepared supper and placed it into a cooler. Wow! Did we chow down.
In closing this posting I want to suggest readers learn the symptoms of stroke. Because other people in my family have suffered from strokes I knew what to do; I’ve had experience. Though panic spurred me on last week, nevertheless doctors said I did do the right things—and that I did recognize at least the one symptom Janie exhibited.
Cut and paste these symptoms to your word processing program, print them out and then review them periodically.
*Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
*Sudden confusion, trouble speaking (this is what Janie exhibited) or understanding
*Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
*Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
*Sudden, severe headache with no known cause
In a day or so we’ll be back on track, and in between some follow up doctor appointments, will resume postings on natural history subjects and adventure travel. I still want to share (mentioned in an early post) with you some trips we’ve made to Alaska. Our setbacks are but temporary, so perhaps we’ll see you along the way. In several months you might even look for us along the Columbia River where we’re hoping to learn more about Kennewick Man–and why the banks of this fabled river in eastern Washington produce some of the world’s best wine!!!