My computer research last February was suddenly interrupted by the scary symptoms of a heart attack.
Because we live on a county line, the ambulance arrived from one town while police and a fire truck responded from the other direction. As the paramedics began treatment, my combination office/bedroom filled with people. Because of the distance from a hospital and the now heavy Friday afternoon traffic, the paramedics called for an airlift to San Antonio. Then the real drama began.
While the fire truck sprayed water on our dried-up pasture to keep down dust and prevent a grass fire, paramedics continued working on me. Then I was lifted onto a stretcher and taken in the ambulance from my cottage to the pasture gate. Strong men carried my stretcher across the field to the waiting helicopter while neighboring ranchers looked on, reassured about the help available in an emergency.
The helicopter ride was an adventure—but not because I saw the countryside! A nurse sat beside me monitoring vital signs, IV, oxygen and smiling reassurance while she communicated with someone via an unseen radio. The large ear phones that protected us from the engine noise erased her words.
What does one think about while flying above the earth in a journey of uncertain destination? I can only speak for myself. “Is this it? Is this the way it ends for me?” I was in capable hands, and whatever happened was out of my control. Fear was buried by curiosity about what would happen next.
When we landed, the door opened and my stretcher was rushed from darkness to the glaring overhead lights of an emergency room bustling with activity. Questions. So many questions! Monitors. Blood tests. Chest x-ray. Brain scan. Those assured the doctor this was high blood pressure, not a heart attack or stroke. With that came renewed confidence for my future.
They decided to monitor me overnight in the hospital. Alone in a quiet hospital room, I had time to think about how lucky I am. After my earlier troublesome years, I have fulfilled all my important dreams. The few that remain are not of great significance, although I hope to achieve them, too. Unless we are in extreme pain, I think we all would like a little more time.
A regret I felt during the uncertain moments was that I might not be able to attend the Escapade in Gillette. I have been looking forward to that celebration of Escapees’ 35th birthday—a major milestone for me. When Joe and I started Escapees in July 1978, we wondered if there was any need for “another” RV club with Good Sam, FMCA and dozens of brand-sponsored RV clubs already in existence.
In a hospital room, coming back to the known, I realized that Escapees was never just “another RV club.” Escapees members are unique, and their love of this club is proof of its need. Whether or not I personally attend this—or any future—Escapade doesn’t matter.
Younger generations of my family that now lead Escapees have pushed down our old boundaries and are adding new visions. Thirty-five years is not the end.
We are still at the beginning of something that will always endure.