I guess you know by now that the journey is over. It’s amazing how quickly something that started out so good can come to an end.
Outside of Arcadia, Louisiana peddling my way towards Shreveport, there were two loud noises in the silent countryside. The first “KA-BAM” was my front tire exploding and disintegrating before my eyes as I rolled down the flat countryside doing 20MPH.
The second loud noise was a completely involuntary “OH S#$@T!!” as I went, like my ol’ man used to say – “ass over teakettle”.
I picked myself up off the ground with childbirth-like pains going through my side. Then I picked the bike up. Slightly bent frame, slightly bent wheel, shredded tire and a couple other things that didn’t make it totally unrideable and back to Arcadia I went.
Found a small urgent care type place and went on in. They looked at me like what I was – a dirty, long haired, sweaty, smelly guy – and once they finally figured out that I wasn’t a vagrant passing through looking for a way to score mind altering drugs, they did their required paperwork and let me see a doc.
Now, why is it that a doc will push, poke and prod while all the time asking, “Does this hurt?” Why not just ask where it hurts and take my word for it? Guess there’s a little sadism in everyone.
Doc’s diagnosis? Several broke ribs. Wrapped the world’s largest ace bandage around my mid section and sent me off with instructions to get them x-rayed in Shreveport and a few pain killers to ease the pain.
After some readjustment on the bike wheel and a new tire and tube, I tucked the doc’s paperwork in my vest pocket, tossed the pain killers over my shoulder and headed on into Shreveport – slowly and carefully.
Got hooked up with my host in Shreveport and relaxed for the night.
Next morning I found out where the VA was and headed out.
After rolling up to the ER entrance and going in, they looked at me like what I was – a dirty, long haired, sweaty, smelly guy – and once they finally figured out that I wasn’t a vagrant passing through and looking for a way to score mind altering drugs, they did their required paperwork, hooked me up to all the gizmos and gadgets and let me see a doc.
After some more poking and prodding by the doc along with the standard question, “Does this hurt?”, he ordered up some xrays. Doc’s diagnosis? No cracked or broken ribs – just bruised real bad. I didn’t know you could bruise a bone.
But he did notice some “irregularity” on the EGK monitor that was attached. I hate those things. Well, not the EKG monitor, but rather those little plastic-like, half-dollar sized thingys that they attach to about five or so points on your chest to monitor the heart.
One of these days, I’m going to invent little plastic-like, half-dollar sized thingys that don’t get super glued to the hair. Know what sound it makes when they have to pull them off later? The same sound as I heard back in the quiet countryside outside of Arcadia – “OH S#$@T!!”
Once the doc got my medical records back from the VA in Asheville and seeing as how I had undergone a quad-ruple bypass a year ago, he admitted me “for observation”. I like how they always say that – “for observation”. Makes a person feel like a trained chimp about to perform while people observe.
So into the hospital I went. Overton Brooks VA Medical Center, 6 West, Room Twelve, Bed 1, Shreveport, Louisiana.
This story is getting longer than what I intended so I’ll cut this part short. After some more poking and prodding and getting stuck with needles, the doc said he’d discharge me on the condition that I follow up with the VA back in Asheville. Wanting to get away from the needles anyway I could, I made the promise.
Now I went through some stuff in the military that gets me a little bit better-than-average-care from the VA. I won’t go into details, but all my medical care is totally free along with the meds. The folks at the VA also paid for my bus ticket back to Asheville.
The Journey is over.
On the bus ride back to Asheville, I had plenty of time to think. I was able to think about all the old friends that I had reconnected with as well as all the new friends I had made. I was able to think about how each day on the trip was it’s own mini-adventure. I thought about how much like life was the trip – new faces and places. As Willie says, “seeing things I might never see again”.
Life is kinda like that too. Each day we’re able to wake up and draw a breath is a mini-adventure. Sure, a lot of what we do each day could be, what one friend calls, the “mundane predictability of life”. On the other hand, it’s the mundane predictabilities that tend to make us appreciate the unexpected twists and turns of this journey.
So while my journey of the past several weeks is over, this adventure called life goes on and the journey continues.
Stay tuned – the best is yet to come.