Sunday, August 23, 2009

Deer: Dangerous on the Road

Yesterday, my wife and I had to run up to Boy Scout Camp Cedars, up by Fremont, to pick up our oldest grandson who had spent the night for a Nani-ba-zhu festival. (It's a bit complicated. As a member of the Order of the Arrow, he has also been inducted into the local Nani-ba-Zhu 'tribe' as a Brave. He spent Saturday making his 'regalia': headdress, necklace, arm bustles, etc.)

We picked him up about 6:30, and headed home. It was an hour-plus drive, and about 7:00, with the sun sitting fairly low in the western sky behind me, we crossed the Platte River into Douglas County. As we came over the bridge, some motion caught my eye. A deer (doe) was bounding through the tall grass down in the tall grass ahead to the right. Something told me to be careful, so I eased off the gas and pointed her out to my wife. I had one car behind me, a friend of ours with her Scout coming home, and oncoming were four motorcycles, followed at some distance by another car.

Moments after we came off the bridge, the deer decided she simply had to be on the other side of the road, and launched herself directly in front of my car. I stomped on the brake, expecting the sickening THUD as I hit her. Instead, as if by a miracle we missed her. At the same instant, i thought, "Oh my God! The motorcycles!', and out of the corner of my eye I saw her hit the lead biker.

I watched the deer, bike, and rider go sliding down the pavement in my mirror as I pulled over to the side. Our friend pulled over right in front of us, but I was already out the door, heading back to see if there was any help I could provide. The car behind the bikes had already pulled over and was calling 911 as I arrived. Two of the bikers were pulling the bike and the deer to the side of the road, while the third was dragging his friend, in a sitting position, to the other side.

As I got there, fully expecting to see a bloody, mangled body, I found the biker, a fairly large man, almost laughing! "Good thing I hit it, and not one of you little guys! Probably would have killed you!" We gave him a quick check over to be sure how he was. He said his ankle hurt - probably busted, but maybe just badly sprained. He took off his helmet (not a scratch on it), and his leather jacket. The left sleeve, from wrist to elbow, was torn up, and he had a little "road-rash" up by his elbow. That appeared to be the extent of his injuries. He said that with the sun setting, and in his eyes, he didn't even see the deer until they collided.

Meanwhile, my wife had also called 911, and was able to give them more exact directions to the accident site. Two Sheriff cars soon pulled up, followed shortly by a Rescue Vehicle. After the Deputies took statements, the biker was loaded into the Rescue Squad to be transported to a hospital, and we were on our way.

After we got home, and before the sun fully set, we took a look at our bumper. We saw two new dings on the driver's side, right where the deer's rear hooves might have hit. It makes us think that we might have altered the deer's path just enough so that, instead of the biker hitting her head on, and possibly doing a header over the handlebars, instead she was twisted sideways and hit him in the side taking the bike out from under him, and possibly even serving as a "cushion" for him during the critical first moments of the slide down the pavement.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Lovely Weekend

What a lovely weekend it was.

The temperature Saturday officially topped out at less than 100, but the heat index rose well above that. My wife was gone to Iowa for the weekend with the Girl Scouts, camping. (Well, they had air-conditioned cabins, thankfully, but it was still "camping".) She had our daughter, and two granddaughters with her. The two grandsons still left home went with the Boy Scouts to Kansas City to Worlds Of Fun for the day, so once I dropped them off at the collection point at 7:00am, I didn't have to leave the house again until I had to pick them up 15 hours later. So I buried myself in the barely adequate air conditioning, did some laundry, fixed a child's wooden rocker for a friend (a little wood glue can work wonders ;)), watched some movies, etc. Nice and quiet, even if too hot.

Sunday, the fun began. First, no solid food for the next 24+ hours. Clear liquids only. And nothing with red/purple food dyes. Lime Jello was as solid as it got. At 9:30 I had to leave for the nursing home to supervise the Community Service kids. Hungry. And it looks like rain. I check the weather radar. Sure enough, a line of thunderstorms less than 10 miles away. Sorry, Cocoa and Cleo, I'll put you dogs out after I get home at lunchtime. You won't like it out there pretty soon. Sure enough, less than 3 miles down the road, big, fat raindrops start splattering the windshield. By the time I get to the nursing home, there's lightning all around, and the rain is pouring down. The storms continue off and on all day.

By quarter to twelve, I'm done at the nursing home, so I drive up to the 72nd Street Flea Market to pick up the bed rails for a bunkbed we bought for the grandsons a couple weeks earlier. I had put it together, and found three of the four rails were missing. We informed the lady we bought it from, and she had called back to say she had found them. But the Flea Market is only open Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday. I picked up the rails, dropped them at my daughter's and headed home. It had stopped raining for the moment, so the dogs went out back. By now I was starving. Broth was on the list of allowed liquids, so I heated up a can of beef broth and drank it down. By now, it tasted delicious. I went upstairs and killed time waiting for my wife to get home by installing KDE4.3 on my computer. About 3:00pm, I noticed I was getting quite a headache. I went back downstairs and checked the beef broth can. There it was, the 3rd ingredient was salt/sodium. I went back upstairs, relaxed a few minutes, and checked my blood pressure. 156/103. Not high enough to go to the ER, but high enough to give me a good headache. And I couldn't take my medication until Monday.

Finally, about 5:00pm, my wife got home. She's exhausted. Since the thunderstorms are rolling east, she had to fight through them all the way home. Plus, between sick Scouts, arthritic knees, and an uncomfortable bed, she figures she only got about 4 hours of sleep since Friday. During a lull in the rain, we bring in what has to be brought in from the car, and I let her lie down on the bed. Then I tell her it's time I started. She agrees, and reminds me I have to drink the whole gallon in three hours.

GoLitely is a special electrolyte mixture designed to clean your gastro-intestinal system of anything more solid than water. And not leave much of that, either. You drink an 8-oz glass every 10 minutes or so. Chugging is preferable to sipping. And it tastes awful. Like glass after glass of salty water. The instructions say you should notice the effects within an hour of the first glass. They are correct. After that, keep a clear path between you and the bathroom. If there is a second bathroom in the house, so your family can use one while you have complete access to the other, so much the better. GoLitely works by causing a massive influx of water from the rest of your system into your intestinal tract, which then gets flushed out. Repeatedly. "... until the watery stool is clear."

I managed about 3 liters before nausea wouldn't let me swallow any more of the stuff. My "stool was clear", so I decided that was enough. It turns out that most people don't finish a whole gallon. If you have less than a quart left, before you quit, you're doing good.

Monday morning, 7:00 am, my wife takes my to the endoscopy clinic. A pleasant nurse greets us, makes sure I'm the person their records show, that I'm there for a colonoscopy, etc. She has me change into a hospital gown (open to the rear, of course), and gets me situated on a gurney. Then she tries to start an IV, for administering the sedative and any other medication during the procedure. Now, I've never had a problem with giving blood, or having IVs started. Wrap the rubber band around my arm, pump my fist a couple times, and the veins stand right out for easy access. Not this time. After trying and failing, she apologizes, and says she will have the anesthesiologist do it, since he's more experienced. "It's really unfair. First, we dehydrate you, then we stick you in a cold room, and then we expect your veins to have blood in them!"

A little later, I'm in the OR, lying on my side, and they push the sedative into the IV. Next thing I know, it's a couple hours later, and I'm in Recovery. After I'm sufficiently functional, I get dressed and my wife drives me home, where I spend most of the rest of the day in bed.

Diagnosis: slight diverticulosis (common in over-50s -- a high-fiber diet keeps problems at bay), prostate looks normal, and a polyp was snipped out for biopsy. We'll get the results of that in two weeks.