…6am turned to 7, which turned to 8, then 9…you get the picture. The charge RN had said she placed numerous calls to the hospital in Bakersfield, but still we had no answers.
I asked the new ED doc if Matthew should receive another dose of IV antibiotics, especially since the cut was down to the bone- and oh yes! What a great idea!
Eventually, around 1015, a random lady came in without introducing herself and says in a monotone yet annoyed voice, “got a message for you. Change of plans. You need to go see Dr. Freeman’s PA at the clinic in Bakersfield this morning. Her number is __ and the address is ____”. And then she left.
Who? What? When? Where? And Why?!?? Wtf??!!
When I questioned the lady if they gave any more details or if we had a time she said, “you gotta call for an appointment. But I assume it’s soon ’cause they close at noon.”
What the hell! Bakersfield is about 45 minutes away and we didn’t have transportation!! While the charge RN discharged Matt, I quickly reserved a rental car (we were SO lucky that a. This tiny town even had a car rental place! And b. That they had any cars left! The man said he was almost out of cars due to all of those pesky thru-hikers taking cars to drive north to avoid the snow!) I extended our hotel room another night, and we started making phone calls to the clinic.
Trying to find someone who knew anything about Dr. Freeman’s PA telling us that we needed to be seen today was so frustrating!! Eventually we spoke to the right person, but just as we were getting to our rental car we found out that although Dr. Freeman accepts Matt’s insurance, the location/PA we were told to go to did not. Fuck.
Matt made a few more phonecalls and managed to get through to Dr. Freeman’s office, where the kind receptionist was able to squeeze us in that afternoon.
Matt and I quickly stopped by the hotel, caught Arc, Big Momma, and Joe Dirt before they left for the trail, then we started our drive to Bakersfield. We only made it about 20 minutes before I had to pull off the road for a quick nap!! Driving makes me sleepy!
We met with one of Dr. Freeman’s PAs, who impressed us by knowing all about the PCT and the current snow conditions in the Sierras. He was very personable and confident, and he was honest in his opinion about our situation: A. He said that while this doesn’t need to be an emergent surgery, Matt should get this taken care of within a week- the longer we wait, the more intra-op jaw maneuvering that would need to be done. B. He is confident that Dr. Freeman is the best around (he apparently does hundreds of these surgeries every year…) BUT he understands that we lack a support system in Bakersfield and would fully understand if we chose to go elsewhere. And C. We would be dumb to try to go into the Sierras at this time.
Matt and I weighed our options and reviewed what quick research we could find: Dr. Freeman studied at Brown, did a fellowship at Sloan Kettering in NYC, AND is the chief facial trauma surgeon at the hospital- we liked what we saw. We also liked the vibe that we got from the PA- but I did express a concern- was he really that good? Or did the PA just have that cocky surgeon confidence?? (But honestly, would I ever fully trust anyone??) With our other option being googling random doctors, begging them to operate asap, and then traveling to them, we scheduled for Friday.
Back at the hotel, after stuffing my face with a rice and bean burrito in bed, I started to cry… I hadn’t slept in 37 hours. I was sad for Matt. Hell, I was sad for me! It wasn’t like he was a drunken mess and tripped and fell. He legit just passed out!* Matt said I could continue on the trail with our friends and he would meet up with me when he could, but not only could I NOT do the trail without him, I don’t WANT to do the trail without him! And fuck! Surgery! What if something goes wrong? Did we make the right choice? And ughh our room was quiet…so. darn. quiet. The room was full of laughter and friends just yesterday. We had gone from such a high to an ultra low. I was sad that we were going to lose our trail legs- how long would it take for our bodies to get used to doing 18- 20+ mile days again? And shit! I can’t eat all the foods anymore:( why am I so bloody hungry! i missed the trail life already, and our trail family even more. Would we ever see them again?? are we loners now? most everyone has their own trail fam by now- would we find another? Did we want another? And one of my biggest fears- when we return, what if the trail has lost its magic?? (When Joelle came back after injuring her ankle she only lasted a day before getting off trail again- her heart wasn’t in it anymore!) And fuck…do I need to start wearing deodorant again??
With all of these thoughts running through my mind and an incredibly snotty nose, I finally fell asleep. I hadn’t cried that much since my baby puppy Finn died!
*So wait, what the heck, Matt?? What happened to you!!?? Many people, myself included, assumed it was the beer + alcohol+ hot tub mixture, especially since we had hiked that day and didn’t drink a lot of water- it had to be from dehydration! Valid? Yes. But then I realized that Matt is no stranger to that combo: apres ski activities often include those things + more and he has never had a problem, even at ridiculously high elevations! Shit.
But then Matt’s friend Raj pointed out that wrestlers often pass out when they are trying to cut weight and ding! ding! ding!!! That was the missing piece!! Matthew had recently lost so much weight! That had to be a large contributing factor!
AND his pre-op blood pressure was fairly low- definitely lower than his norm! And I think hot tubs can lower bps too? So dehydration, weight loss, and low blood pressure, all exasperated by each other and the evening activities–> a perfect fuckin storm to throw us a little off course!!
We will be back, though. The wheels are already rolling