We took our time packing the room and spent most of the day running errands and making travel arrangements.
We had a bunch of food from our recent resupply that we figured we could save for when we hit the trail again, so we packed it up and stored it at Wit’s End…but I couldn’t be trusted with all of our open snacks, so I gave them away to some hikers. We drove two hikers to and from the post office before returning our rental car, providing a little trail magic ourselves!
A nice lady saw us at the car rental place and offered to drive us back to town. While in town, two more people asked if we needed a ride somewhere! Tehachapi, man!
While eating a danish that I totally didn’t earn (town food doesn’t taste as good when you didn’t just walk 20miles! AND it sure doesn’t taste as good when you’re stuffing your face by yourself…) Matt and I booked a hotel room for 6 nights in Bakersfield, a car rental from Bakersfield to LAX, and flights to and from NJ. We had been talking about going home the next weekend anyway to surprise our families [my nephew’s christening was bringing all of my siblings home to NJ and I didn’t wanna be the only one not there, especially since I had no idea when we would all be together again!!] but now we had more of an excuse to bite the bullet and head home, even though it was no longer a surprise or under the best circumstances.
Watercolor and her boyfriend, appropriately named Magic Mike, offered to drive us to Bakersfield from Tehachapi. Mike was unfortunately injured early on in the journey and has been off trail for a while now- and he happened to be in town (with a car!) visiting Watercolor, who was coming off trail that afternoon to nurse her own injuries for a long weekend. Matt and I had booked the same hotel as them and spent the late afternoon/early evening bumming around Tehachapi until Watercolor finished hiking for the day.
We hung out in the library for a bit, then enjoyed a Thai dinner before Watercolor and Magic Mike picked us up. Matt was able to eat some soup broth and tofu curry- and I got all of his veggies!!
Gosh, Magic Mike and Watercolor are so frickin nice!! Not only did they drive out of their way to pick us up in Tehachapi, but they did so knowing that they had to drive to and from Fresno that evening as well! Watercolor’s friend had been visiting and had an early flight out of Fresno the next morning, so after dropping us off in Bakersfield they drove 4 hours round trip and didn’t get back to Bakersfield until 1am!! We are so grateful for their friendship!
Thursday, May 30
Day before surgery
We ubered to a grocery store and stocked up on protein shakes and meal replacements for Matt, and fruits, veggies, and frozen dinners for me…
Watercolor invited us to join them for ice cream. We enjoyed the fresh air, good ice cream, and even better company and conversation.
Friday, May 31
It’s so weird not having a car! Although Watercolor and Magic Mike would have driven us if we asked, we took a Lyft to the hospital. We were wearing the same clothes we have worn since April 13, stained and all, ’cause that’s all we got!, and my “purse” was a Vons shopping bag…
After registration Matthew was soon wheeled back to the pre-op area.
I was comforted when I saw that there were pediatric patients there- if the hospital performs scheduled surgeries on children and if parents trust this place enough to bring their kids there, it couldn’t be terrible!
After one failed IV attempt (it infiltrated after the nurse tried to be nice and use lidocaine to numb the site and the vein disappeared, forcing her to fish around for a bit…) I pointed out a juicy vein on his other arm, just below the bend in his arm that the nurse was dead-set on avoiding, and we were in business. (GOSH, I’m THAT person- and Matt’s a 34 year old man! Imagine if I had kids?!?)
We finally had a chance to meet with Dr. Freeman and Amber, the PA, whom we both ended up really liking. They were personable, knowledgeable, and patient with our questions- and Dr. Freeman had just recently hiked Mt. Kilimanjaro, so we had some side convos about that!
Dr. Freeman, knowing that we are PCT hikers, had considered letting Matthew’s jaw just “swing” (like, without surgery!!) or using rubber bands vs wires, thinking that the less rigid approach would allow for more comfort and movement while we hiked, but in the end it was decided to use the wires.
After assuring me that he has done thousands of these surgeries in the past AND that he would only shave a small patch of Matthew’s beard to properly suture the chin laceration, Dr. Freeman wheeled Matthew off to the OR with Amber and two OR nurses, whom I also really liked!!
While he was in the OR I bought Matthew a little “I’m sorry you broke your jaw and had to leave the trail to get it wired shut” gift…
The trail fam and my real fam agree that Mr. Wizard should accept the new trail name Jaws, but that’s TBD…
A little more than an hour after surgery started, Dr. Freeman and Amber came to find me in the waiting room- all went well, as expected! They again took the time to answer my questions, explain post-op and follow-up instructions, and wished me luck!! “He behaved for us, but he was sleeping the whole time…he’s your patient now!” Thanks, Dr. Freeman!!
After about an hour I was able to join Matthew in the PACU, and then after a last minute xray we were free to go. We requested an Uber and soon we were on our way to our budget extended stay hotel!
[Matt’s PACU nurse was a little judgey/concerned about our hotel- “did you not know the area before you booked?” and then later, “do you want me to get you a list of better hotels?” Honestly, it was everything we needed: cheap, full kitchen, clean, and close to hospital. When we first asked the receptionist at Dr. Freeman’s office for a hotel rec, the one she suggested was $$$$ and had a “refined restaurant,” two bars, AND a nightclub in it!- haven’t these ladies seen what we are wearing?? Good grief!]