Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Importance of Friends

Our final two weeks in Mexico have not been exactly as planned. I was busy with last minute board things and Gail was not feeling well. Wednesday night I was at a meeting until 12:30am. On Thursday the 12th she woke up really sick and was hallucinating. I knew I wasn't able to manage her at home so I ran over to Ann and Jack's place as he was sitting out after his early morning walk. Ann was in the shower but Marcelino-next door to them- heard the frantic tone of my voice and came outside right away. He called Kuka- another neighbour and board member, who lives just across the garden from me.

This is where a moment of serendipity occured. Kuka (Dr. Castro) is a physician and just happens to be chief of staff at the best hospital in Puerta Vallarta. She came over to check Gail. Her English is not great but I knew right away that she wanted Gail in hospital. Then everything kicked into high gear. By this time Ann, Marcelino and Silvia were in the house. Dan came over and carried Gail down the stairs and put her into Marcelino's van. Kuka followed us, got Gail into the ER immediately and had her in a private room within an hour.

Things went from bad to worse. I won't go into all the details but I spent five nights in the hospital with her. The care she received was incredible. I cannot imagine a better place for this to happen. The hospital was spotless (not like where my father spent weeks a couple of summers ago in St. John's where the public washrooms had no soap!!! In a hospital!!!) The nurses were fantastic and very compassionate. The food was HOMEMADE and Dr. Suarez, who looked after her, was in to see her between 5-7 times daily, including the middle of the night at 2 and 5 am.

While all this was going on, I was very concerned about getting Gail home as we had planned to drive back starting on the 24th. There was no way she could handle the drive. Our neighbour Marilyn found out how I could extend our tourist visa and got information for us about getting the car home. Others picked me up at the hospital every day to take me home for a shower and clean clothes and drove me back. (I found out three days into this that there is a free parking lot next to the hospital which is always half empty).

Then our angels and wonderful friends in Canada got involved. First of all Lea called Westjet, arranged to fly to PV on Friday the 20th and fly back to Kelowna with Gail on Tuesday the 24th. I was feeling optimistic at this point that she would be out of the hospital by then but still unable to travel via car. Our neigbours Tony and Maureen offered to stay a few extra days so I could drive behind them in the car. This was a huge relief as I did NOT want to drive through Mexico on my own. I told them if they just got me to Arizona I would be fine, not great but fine. They want to meander home slowly. Then my next angel appeared when Dale (McManus Dale not Liddicoat Dale) arranged to fly to Phoenix after work on Thursday and drive the rest of the way home with me. She is switching flex days on Friday and we are planning a marathon drive back to Vancouver. Ann (who is now back in Vancouver) is going to meet me at the border and take me to the airport. I have a flight from there to Kelowna on the 30th and will fly home to Victoria with Gail on April 4. Dale will drive the car back to Victoria.

Gail finally came home on St. Patrick's Day. She was very weak and came with a an arsenal of medications. On the way home I was pulled over for speeding -the first time in my life. I paid the cop on the spot so I could get going (mordida or the "bite" it's called.)

Lea arrived Friday and was an enormous help. She cooked, she cleaned, she looked after Gail and helped me pack up the house for the next seven months. I would not have been able to cope without her.

Yesterday morning I said goodbye to Lea and Gail and started my long drive north with Tony and Maureen. They are now in Calgary overnight and will get back to Kelowna in the morning. Once again our neighbours came to the rescue as we had offers from Monica and Rolf, plus Candace and her family to take Lea and Gail to the airport. Candace, her three kids, her Mom and stepdad were all taking the same flight back to Calgary. They had rides arranged and included Gail and Lea which was so kind. I am now wide awake at 3:30 am and am in a hotel about half way to the US border.

I cannot thank our friends and neighbours enough for coming to our aid. I have never been in a position where I needed so much and we are truly blessed to be so loved by so many. It's been two weeks that I will never forget.

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