This Really Happened

June 2018

I was scheduled for a business trip out west and planned to visit my daughter during my trip. I was headed to Arizona and Washington State. Two days before my flight I got an email from my sister-in-law in Australia saying she had taken my husband to the emergency room because of blood loss. He was scheduled to return to the US in 10 days.

This is a test – what would you do?

I tried to get more info, but the information was vague and inconclusive. He had lost blood a year before from an ulcer, so I thought it was a repeat. The last time this happened he was in and out of the hospital within a day. Without knowing more I decided to continue preparing for my trip until I heard something else.

Test part B – what else could happen?

Two days later and five hours before my flight to Arizona, my son had a car accident while pulling out of my driveway. He was on the way to shoot a wedding and couldn’t be late so I loaned him my car. I called the insurance company (he’s on my policy) to report the accident, then left my son detailed instructions of what to do next about the accident. I left for the airport.

With double concern on my heart, I boarded the plane. I was headed to Phoenix for the first part of my business meetings, and my daughter was going to meet me a day or so later. We had planned to visit the Grand Canyon.

Test part C – where to go from here?

While flying across the country I received a text from my sister-in-law: “They’re keeping him for more tests, considering surgery or alternatives. I think you should come.”  Good thing I packed my passport.

After a poor night’s sleep in Phoenix (in a very comfortable room at my friend’s house) business went forward. My daughter decided to drive up early from Tucson so we could spend the afternoon together. I had not told her yet that her dad was in the hospital. I didn’t have much to tell because I knew very little, I only had a growing concern.

Unraveling International Communication


I explained what I knew to my daughter. We spent the afternoon and evening with good friends, and I let them know what we were dealing with as well because I needed to make a lot of calls. I needed to let my sons know what was going on, but there was so little I could tell them. I kept trying to reach the doctors and get more info from my sister-in-law, but time differences made it hard. I sent an email to my supervisor to let him know I might not make it to Washington.

After checking the time difference, I called the hospital but could only reach nurses who were encouraging but had little information they could give me. After all, how would they know I’m his wife? His sister is his next of kin and emergency contact in AU. I left my phone number and email and asked again to have his doctor contact me.

My husband is deaf so I couldn’t speak to him directly. He doesn’t have a phone or tablet, so I was at the mercy of waiting for others to get back to me. I’m so grateful we were surrounded by close friends who provided both support and distraction. But my daughter and I were struggling to decide what to do next.

Sideways communication works – sort of …

My daughter decided to contact her cousins in Australia through FB Messenger. Just looking for more info, maybe a slightly different perspective from what we had been getting. Two of my nephews responded with good details about what had been happening so far and how my husband was doing. It was very encouraging!

The doctors never called me back, at any point in this saga.

Knowing that my husband had a good relationship with our nephews, their perspective that he was “in good spirits” meant a lot to me. We decided to stay the night where we were and head out early the next morning toward Flagstaff by way of Jerome and Sedona. As long as we had to wait for information and test results, we thought we should keep busy.

The long and winding road

At this point, no one had given me any idea of what the tests were about or what was meant by “surgery or alternatives”. It was very frustrating. I was asking questions by email, text and international calls and getting nowhere. I needed more info before I could consider canceling a work trip and 3 flights to reroute myself to Australia. I had only arranged to be gone from home for about 2 weeks (I had a tenant taking care of my cat for a reduction in his rent, and had repairs scheduled for after my return).

My mind was swirling with “what if’s…”. Finances were tight. I’m sub-contracted so not working means not getting paid. Let’s just drive, I thought. We can only work out the details when we know what they are. So we drove north through the desert and into the mountains.

To be continued…

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