Chapter 21: Arrived in an Ambulance….Departed in a Taxi

Mike was for the most part back to some sort of mental normalcy after his blow to the head and concussion. They kept his IV full of unknown drugs that made him pain free and not overly concerned. He was beginning to realize some things needed to be dealt with, and I remember him making a phone call to one of our doctor friends in Tulsa, an ear,nose,and throat specialist.
Mike explained our predicament, which was the category 4 hurricane approaching and the doctors there in Mexico telling us Jess was not stable enough to leave the hospital.
He told Mike in no uncertain terms to get out of there and that the risks of staying were greater than the risk of leaving and flying home.
Mike hung up and immediately called the airlines though I’m sure our odds of getting through were very slim to none as no doubt every tourist in Cancun (the closest airport) was trying to find a way out of that area before the hurricane made landfall. At this time it was briefly a category 5. Be that as it may, the first call Mike placed was answered immediately and as I recall, he was not even placed on hold.
He explained our story to the airline representative on the phone, but of course left out the part about us planning to leave the hospital under the doctors vigorous and loud advice/commands not to because we would be risking Jessica’s life.
The representative felt very bad for our situation and said, “You know, I think all of my seats out of Cancun are sold”…. But then she said she would check one more time. She was back on the line after a very brief pause and in a very pleasing voice said,”Yes, yes I do! I have only three open.” Three were the EXACT number we needed, and she went further to say they were in first class but she was not going to charge us the first class price. Mike hung up, and we were more determined than ever that this was the right thing to do. It was not by accident that we had just secured the last three seats on the last plane out of Cancun before the hurricane and first class to boot.
By this time Mike had requested they take his IV out and when they brought their “tool kit” in to take Jessica’s blood, Mike refused to let them and told them we would be leaving.
This started quite a disturbance among the nurses and the one doctor on duty, who immediately came to our room and began to try and persuade us not to leave unless it was by medical helicopter or medical plane.
We had no way of making that happen in the time frame we had, so they made us sign all types of documents stating we were leaving against their advice and putting Jessica’s life in jeopardy. The one thing that really helped us have the courage was knowing what our doctor had said from back in Tulsa, so we stuck to our guns.
We called a taxi, but it was the strangest feeling walking out of that hospital to get into it. Jess was so weak she could barely walk, and Mike had been off of his IV for about 6 hours. His pain was kicking in and was becoming almost unbearable from not only the blow to the head but also his busted chin with stitches and a broken bone (very small) in his face, we would learn later.
It was frightening, I must admit, to leave against the advice of the doctors there; part of me thought they knew nothing, but yet part of me was so thankful for all they had done….I was torn.
It was dusky dark when our taxi arrived (around 8:30 pm or so) to pick us up. We climbed in and asked our driver to stop at the first little store of any kind, as we were absolutely starving. Mike ran in and bought three orange Fanta’s to drink, a can of Pringles potato chips and another bag of chips (there was hardly anything in this tiny gas station of a store to choose from). I can tell you orange Fanta has never tasted SO good. Just getting something in Jessica’s stomach and in Mikes seemed to have an immediate positive affect and on me as well. I began to gain a little more confidence that this whole ordeal might be close to being behind us.
By this time it was dark and we made the 45 or so minute drive to Cancun. We stopped at a hotel in downtown Cancun that had a room open, but it was far from tourist friendly. It was rather old and kind if smelly and a bit on the scary side but we couldn’t keep driving around looking for something else. By this time, Mike was in excruciating pain and we didn’t have as much as an Advil with us.
It was after 10 by the time we found this hotel and got into our room (only to find out there was no air conditioning, and remember, this was in July!)
Our ENT doctor friend had told Mike that he and Jess needed to use Afrin nose spray that night before the flight the next morning to keep pressure down, so as soon as he got us settled in the room he went walking looking for a pharmacy to buy that, something to snack on and of course Advil. He walked because he thought surely there would be something close by since we were downtown.
He ended up being gone almost an hour, walking, and finding nothing for blocks that turned into a few miles. What he did find wasn’t open at that hour. When he returned he could hardly talk from the pain that was taking over, the overexertion from his walk, coupled with the incredible sticky tropical heat. Jess had fallen asleep while we waited and as soon as Mike took a cold shower (only kind you want to take in air conditioner-less room), he followed suit.
Later on, as we lay there side by side, all three of us, I was almost overcome with thoughts of fear as the reality hit me that I was the only “healthy” one. I was going to have to be the one to help encourage and bring confidence that we could do this, while swallowing my own doubts and fears. It was a long night filled with many thoughts of whether we were making the right call or not. At this point there was no turning back. Right or wrong we were going to be taking another taxi very early the next morning to the airport, the same airport I had seen on the news earlier that day with lines of people stretching through the entire airport and onto the outside, stretching down the side walk for what seemed to be miles. I wasn’t sure Jess and Mike could even stand in line at all much less for hours. I didn’t have a clue how this would ever be possible, but I knew I would need to figure it out. Somehow we had to get on that plane and do so without letting it show to the attendants that Jess and Mike might not be fit for travel. It was a sleepless night for sure.