It was a fantastic trip, except for when my roommate became ill.
OUR TRIP TO BRANSON, MO.
Did you know that riverboats are almost as large as some cruise ships? Have you ever heard of an amphibian vehicle called ‘Ride The Ducks’? I returned home, Sunday evening, October 12 from a 9-day trip to Branson, MO., where I had the fabulous opportunity to encounter some of those adventures. I traveled with a bunch of great people, mostly seniors. The bus stopped at two different hotels nightly on route to our main destination in Missouri.
Once in Branson, our group saw a goodly amount of shows, like Souji Tabouchi, who is a remarkable Oriental performer, especially with the violin. He was very entertaining and could do almost anything. The visual effects were outstanding. I sat at the edge of my seat during the whole show. At another theater, we saw the Jimmy Osmond Show. I liked the viewing screens at most of the theaters that bordered either side of the stages. I actually found myself looking at the screen sometimes instead of the performers on stage. You got a full-bodied view when looking at the screen. Then at still another theater we saw Yakov, the Russian comedian, who was very funny with his witty yet humble humor. He is a proud American citizen, and his accent lends a charm to his performance. I had even purchased his video.
Did you ever hear of the Brett Family Singers? There was so much talent in that family. I was really impressed with the 19-year-old daughter. She excels in everything that she does. She's a classical pianist, a ballerina, and sings like an angel. We also saw a Country Night Show and that was a lot of fun.
During the week, we dined aboard a riverboat, The Branson Belle. Its dining room was eloquently decorated and was quite huge. We sailed the waters while we had a delicious dinner that was served to us with excellence and speed. I really don’t know how the serving staff avoided clashing with one another. We enjoyed the show, which featured a Ventriloquist, who used exceptionally well-trained dogs in his act. I was awed by the dancing performance of a Russian couple. Their timing was absolutely impeccable and the audience was thrilled with their fluid like movements. My breath stood still when the man tossed his partner up into the air and she came down to meld and wrap herself around her partner’s body with loving grace. Their feats were done so effortlessly. The orchestra played big-band music and they were wonderful. I must say our group had great seats at all the shows. Most of the time, we sat in the upper one third and sometimes just a few rows away from center stage. We even stopped at a Casino in Indiana on the way and enjoyed a great buffet after playing the slots.
On another day, we enjoyed a pleasant ride in an amphibian vehicle as the driver narrated the different scenic areas that we passed, including Baird Mountain and Lake Taneycomo. We explored a fish hatchery and Table Rock Dam. The driver stopped the vehicle once in a while and pressed a button that rolled up the plastic shades on either side of the vehicle in order that we could take pictures of the scenery and some old discarded military equipment. They were relics that were no longer in use. Then at one point, we splashed into Table Rock Lake to the delight of all on board. That certainly was a first for me. After gracefully cruising the lake, I was equally thrilled when the vehicle glided effortlessly out of the water and we were on our way again on land. The name of the tourist attraction was, ‘Ride The Ducks’. We were all given yellow Wacky Quackers, as they were called, that dangled from a ribbon that we draped around our necks. It was a toy that mimics a noisy duck sound when you blow in it. A bit of the child inside of us showed as we briefly played with that item.
There were many other things that we did that I have not mention, but all in all it was a fantastic trip, except for my roommate getting sick. She became ill on Wednesday afternoon while we were on the riverboat. She kept upchucking (that's what she calls vomiting) and she continued regurgitating all through the night in our room. I wanted to stay with her the following day, but she explained that it wasn't the first time that she got sick like this and that her illness would pass. She insisted that I continue on with the bus tour and enjoy the day. I saw the logic. I couldn't do anything, but watch her until her condition passed. I suggested some medicines such as anti-nausea drugs, gingerale, Cola syrup, or carbonated beverage that could be of help, but she would throw up immediately if anything passed her lips, whether it was food, sugar, and water... Anything!
When I returned to our room Thursday evening, I found it to be empty. Earlier in the day, I had called her from my cell phone while at one of the theaters and she said that she was still upchucking. She assured me that she would call a doctor if her condition worsened. Somehow, I could not reach her later on in the day. The telephone was always busy. The desk staff told me that she took a cab to the ER at a nearby hospital. It was like pulling teeth to get accurate information from them, but they did call a cab, and one of the girls from our group joined me in the taxi ride to the hospital.
My roommate was hooked up to IVs, and was very happy to see the two of us. She told us that she started to throw up black liquid, and that’s when she sought medical help. She mentioned that the chambermaid had come to clean our room that morning and she was very helpful in making her somewhat comfortable. She checked in on her and brought her a bottle of Sprite, but she couldn't drink even that. I was so thankful that my friend was not alone all of the time.
Well, we stayed with her at the hospital until the doctor came into the room and told her that X-rays revealed a ruptured hiatus hernia that she has had for a long while. To make a long story short, he wasn't releasing her until she was able to eat and drink without vomiting and the bleeding had stopped. The other alternative was to operate, if it became necessary. So, of course, she was admitted and given a room.
We reluctantly left her side and arrived back at the hotel near midnight. We called the taxi company and got the same driver, who had frightened us earlier by saying that Branson, MO is a town of 7,000 residents, had 70 Theaters or shows, and millions of tourists that visited it every year. Even so, he said that you couldn’t hail a taxi after 2 AM. Ridiculous, isn't it? He went on to say that his father had a heart attack or stroke during the early morning hours. They called an ambulance that rushed him to the hospital, but then charged him $250.00 for the short ride.
The next day, Friday morning, our group left for the return route home. My roommate’s luggage was sent to the hospital, and I gathered anything that was left behind by her, tossed them into tote bags and added them to my luggage. I phoned my friend again at the hospital Saturday morning. As soon as she was discharged and able to get a plane out, she was coming home. We arrived back home about 5 PM Sunday night and my sick friend flew home ALONE on the same day. She didn't want her family to come to the hospital, because it was too expensive. She got off the plane late in the evening and was met by her family. It cost her $900.00 to fly home, and I'm not counting the hospital bill, etc. I found out later that we both could have taken out trip insurance and it would have paid for most of her expenses. You never know when that insurance may come into play. I now know the importance of Trip Insurance.
One thing I must say, the social worker at the hospital was very helpful in arranging this discharged patient’s flight, and making all the necessary telephone calls. The test records were being sent to the hospital back home. She's still scheduled to have an operation to separate the distance of the hernia from her stomach or something like that. If that doesn't work, drastic measures may be taken. So far, she's holding her own. I'm worried because she's had a couple of mild strokes over the years and has a murmur of the heart. So now, it is wait and see. She's staying with a married daughter, so she is not alone. I have since made contact with her and she appears to be taking it very well.
With all that happened on this trip, I still recommend visiting Branson, MO. It certainly was a memorable trip.
October 15, 2003
My friend called me from home. She is still scheduled for that operation, and she feels a little better, but is afraid to eat no more than a nibble of food at one time. Jo told me that the hospital wanted her to stay, but reluctantly released her in order that she may go home. She was weak, but well enough to travel then. Originally, it was suggested that she stay overnight or more at a motel, then travel to an airport in Indianapolis at a cost of $200. With that option, seats would then be available at coach rates. But, she was anxious to get home immediately as soon as discharged from the hospital. A chaplain agreed to drive Jo to the airport the same day of her release, and she paid him the $50.00 he asked for the 100-mile trip to the airport. She then boarded a plane with the only available seats being first class. When she disembarked, an elderly couple noticed her distress. They asked if she was feeling well and if they could be of help. The lady said that her husband was a retired doctor. They helped make her comfortable and stayed by her side for sometime. Jo finally caught up to her family, who were waiting to take her home. Gone are the days when you come off a plane to the waiting arms of your loved ones. It seems now you have to walk almost endlessly through red tape and luggage pickup before you can leave the airport terminal. That’s the way of the world today.
An amusing part of her dilemma was that she had only one pair of undies during her four-day stay at the hospital. She would sponge wash them with a wet cloth and towel dry the panties to freshen them up. Her daughter phoned the gift shop at the hospital and inquired if they had souvenir panties, but of course, they had not. The clerk suggested that she call Wal-Mart in Branson and then ask if they could be delivered to the hospital. Well, to make a long story short, the manager of the store personally delivered a Hanes 3 pack of panties to the hospital. The male nurse who administered to her when she first went to the ER delivered the parcel to her saying, “Here’s a gift for you.”
All in all, my friend had nothing but praise for Skaggs Community Hospital in Branson, MO. The staff and the social worker were so helpful and very kind to her in every way.