Last 48 Hours
Debra Jo Myers
© Copyright 2023 by Debra Jo Myers
Photo courtesy of the author.
You may even wonder why this is the travel story I remember better than any other. I haven’t had the luxury of doing a lot of traveling or road tripping, but I have had many great adventures. This one started out that way.
My husband, Alan, and I had been married about eight years when we set out on our first road trip together. He had been caring for his elderly mother for a year, and as much as we both loved her and wouldn’t change a thing, the experience was stressful for us both. His two daughters had been living in Oregon for two years, and we were missing them, so decided to jump in the car and drive across the country from Indiana to see them.
He found a reliable family friend to spend that month with his mom, and we left feeling confident in her care and excited to get away. I had booked quaint little motels along the way. We took our time and stopped to see every attraction we could along the way, even the ‘Wizard of Oz’ museum in Wamego, KS. We saw Mount Rushmore, Yellowstone Park, the St. Louis Arch, and the Morman Tabernacle, just to name a few.
After a wonderful, unforgettable 10-day visit with the girls in Eugene OR, we headed back to Indiana taking a different route without planning it ahead of time. My husband, Alan, was becoming more anxious about being away from his ailing mom, and he thought it would shave a day off the trip home. It just didn’t go the way we’d hoped.
We got lost more than once. We spent one night sleeping in our car in the parking lot of a gas station, because we couldn’t find a motel for miles, to find out later that there was a big convention going on in Las Vegas, NV. There wasn’t a vacancy within a 2-hour distance from there. We didn’t even care about price, and would take whatever we could get, but we kept turning up empty. Alan had been driving for 12 hours, and his vision was blurring when he decided to pull over into a well-lit truck stop. He slept while I kept watch, then I slept as we drove. We called and called and finally found a place to lay our heads for a few hours before our trip continued.
It was this, the last leg of our journey, where my story takes a turn. We stopped in Iowa at a little diner for breakfast and headed into what we hoped would be an uneventful 48 hours into our hometown. An hour into the drive, Alan began to get nausea, but he refused to stop at a motel into we got further. But time after time, we had to stop for him to get sick outside the car. If there was no place to stop, he threw up along side the road. He was miserable and began complaining about a migraine headache.
I convinced him to stop, and we found a little motel there in Iowa, and right away he got into one of the two beds in the room. It was 8pm. He asked me to leave the lights off, so I just turned on the TV and kept the volume low. Other than a few snacks we had in the car, we hadn’t eaten since breakfast. I didn’t want to wake him, so I called Pizza Hut and ordered food to be delivered.
The pizza came and I began to eat when Alan began thrashing in bed. It was like he couldn’t lay still. I went over to him and asked if I could help. He yelled at me. He’d never yelled at me in the 9 years I’d known him! He told me to leave him alone and stay away and covered up his head with the blanket.
“Turn off the lights! They’re blinking!’ he yelled. I turned off the TV, and he calmed down and fell asleep again. I sat down on the other bed with tears in my eyes. What was happening? Should I do something? Something was wrong. But there was no one I could call.
I kept eating and checking on him. About 30 minutes went by, and then I laid down to rest. I had just closed my eyes when I heard Alan start to moan like he was in pain. I got back up and when I got to him, he was convulsing, his eyes were rolling back in his head, and he was foaming at the mouth. I panicked. I asked myself again what was wrong, what should I do. I’d never seen Alan or anyone else like this!
I called my mom in Indiana crying and shaking. She told me to calm down and call 911. When I did, they arrived in minutes. When they approached him, he began yelling and swinging at them when they tried to get him up. Right away, they told me he was having a seizure. One EMT was asking me questions, questions about his health history, and I couldn’t think. I begged them to take me with them in the ambulance as they loaded him onto the gurney, but another EMT sat me down and began explaining that they couldn’t do that.
She told me the hospital was just a mile from the motel. She asked me if I could drive there. Yet I didn’t have a driver’s license. I have multiple sclerosis and hadn’t been able to drive for the past three years. How was I going to get there? I was thousands of miles from home, and I didn’t know anyone there. I was beyond scared. Alan had never had a seizure, and the EMT couldn’t tell me why he was having one now. All she could do is explain that they can be caused by an infection, head trauma, epilepsy, or even a stroke. She promised they would take good care of him, and she took my phone number saying she would personally call me back.
After they left, I sat on the bed and cried and prayed. It was as if someone above told me to get in our car and drive that mile. It was pitch black outside and pouring down rain. I had to calm down first. I needed to talk to my mom again.
When I called, she picked answered the first ring. I could hear the worry in her voice. I could hardly talk, and I don’t even remember what I told her. But hearing my mama’s voice telling me everything would be alright, and she trusted me to drive that mile, gave me the comfort I needed to go wash my face, bundle up, and go get in the car. But once I got there, I began to cry and shake again. Then my phone rang.
On the other end was that EMT who promised to call me. She said Alan had a grand mal seizure and showed signs of epilepsy. He was sedated, so they could take him for a CAT scan, and they would likely admit him. While she talked, I felt myself getting stronger, more clear-headed. I told her I was on my way. She offered to drive back to the motel and let me follow her if I was still afraid. But I repeated her words back to her, ‘It’s only a mile.”
Slowly, I approached the hospital. I parked in front in the handicapped parking and hurried as fast as I could through the pouring rain to my husband in the ER. He was still while the doctor explained what happened. Alan began to stir, and when he saw me, he didn’t seem to recognize me. His eyes were shifty, and he looked confused and afraid.
The first thing he asked me was “Where are we?”
Now Alan and I have nothing but appreciation for our happy ending, and we’re looking forward to our next road trip. I can’t imagine that anything like this will happen again. I’m going to end the story here because I’m sure you know the rest. What I know is that I heard a voice from above that night pushing me forward, and it was just a mile.