Many of you know that Cindy was recently hospitalized for double pneumonia. While trying to get our new gallery open for the annual Cedar Key Arts Festival, we were working around the clock painting, hanging things and moving things in what seemed like circles. In that time we also spent a week in Orlando Florida visiting family for the Easter Spring Break. Orlando during spring break is like a 3rd world country as in the fact that you have so many visitors from all over the world. Thousands upon thousands of kids sniffling, touching things…railings, door knobs….yuck!
The family visit was AWESOME. Our time there was fantastic with many memories made that will last a lifetime. Leaving there, almost everyone in the family came down with a cold. To some, it was just the Flu. Cindy also felt as if she got the flu, and since we do not have insurance, neither of us went to the doctors knowing they’d just tell us to rest, drink lots of fluids and allow it to run its course. Looking back, that was a BIG mistake.
Cindy’s cold kept getting worse. The cough kept getting more intense. And through all this, we kept working 12-15 hour days trying to finish painting, decorating, getting our Beer & Wine License and getting things buttoned up around the shop. Remember we were living here during all this time, so we had to once again, pack all our stuff up, load it into our cargo trailer and move it into storage so it would be a business and not our house.
The day before the show started, Cindy woke up feeling even worse. She said “I’m driving myself to the doctors this morning.” We both thought it would result in a round of antibiotics and she’d spend the next few days sleeping till the med’s kicked in.
She called me an hour later while Bill Trinkle and I were working in the gallery to hang the last bit of artwork and move some stuff around. Bill was the other photographer who was going to be showing his work in the gallery for Arts Fest.
The phone call went something like this.
Cindy – “X-Rays show I have double pneumonia!”
Pat – “OMG! That’s horrible! What do we do now?”
Cindy – “My oxygen levels are so low they want to transport me by ambulance to the hospital because this is just a walk-in clinic and they cannot treat me here.”
Pat – “Cindy, we don’t have insurance, an ambulance ride will cost thousands alone. Ask if you can wait 20 minutes and I’ll drive there and get you and drive you myself to the hospital. Besides, I want to be with you through this.”
Cindy – “You dont have a vehicle! I drove our only vehicle and I’m in Chiefland which is 30 miles away!?!”
I sent a text to my buddy Heath saying “Cindy’s in the hospital, I need to borrow a vehicle” within minutes, and I mean like 2 minutes, Heath walks in the door hands me the keys and says “Let me know what else we can do to help” Bill said he’d finish with the decorating and hanging of the artwork and wished me luck.
I drove 100mph all the way to get Cindy, left Heath’s truck at the clinic and took our truck into Gainesville where they have a real hospital. North Florida Regional is a very large facility and can handle everything a big city can dish at them.
We were in the ER within 45 minutes of leaving the clinic. They had her on an IV, multiple antibiotics and some medication to try and bring her 103 degree fever down along with oxygen because her oxygen levels were only at 83!
For the next few hours I sat beside her while she came in and out of consciousness due to the fever where one time she opened her eyes, looked at me and laughed. When I asked what she was laughing about, she said “I thought you were Elvis for a second.” She then closed her eyes and was asleep as fast as she had opened them. (I’ve never seen a bald, short Elvis, so I knew she was delirious at this point.)
This is where the HUGE Thank You needs to be given. For the next few hours, while I sat there watching my wife moan and toss and turn on a hospital bed feeling utterly useless and horrible that it had gone this far, my phone buzzed constantly with friends, family members and people I hadn’t talked to in years sending prayer messages, good vibes and well wishes. Offers to fly in from California, Michigan, Louisiana….it was overwhelming.
Our very good friends Scott and Karen had made a few phone calls and had a group of locals show up to help Bill and his wife Porter finish the decorating of the gallery. Within a few hours the gallery looked better than I could have accomplished if I’d have had another whole week to put it together.
Scott and Karen had gone and picked up Heath’s truck from the clinic in Chiefland and brought it back to Cedar Key so that task would be out of the way. They went out to the property where we had stashed the dogs in our camper and picked them up bringing them back to their house so they could be cared for while we were at the hospital. I mean these two are AMAZING! When you’re worried sick and they send a photo of your dogs lounging on their couch with a caption “Dogs are doing great, do not worry about them!” that is a load off your mind.
The hospital moved Cindy to her own private room, which was a blessing because it had a chair that folded out into a bed so I could stay with her and sleep beside her. The next few days were spent administering antibiotics and breathing treatments to knock out this virus.
Friday night was supposed to be our big opening, and Cindy was worried something awful that we were missing it. She kept telling me to leave and be there for it, but there was no way I could leave her there alone. At this point, I know the gallery is well taken care of and all I’m worried about is Cindy. Bill sent a video walking through the gallery and showed us how well they had put everything together. It looked amazing and we both knew they had it handled.
All this time, the prayers, the phone calls, the good friends who showed up at the hospital to bring useful items or drop off fresh coffee and breakfast sandwiches, magazines and books to read…gosh, it brings a tear to my eye just thinking about how amazing everyone is to us.
I had to talk the family off of the fence as a few of them were already booking their flights to fly in. I explained that at this point, all they’d be doing was sitting in a hospital room with me watching someone sleep and cough with a few moans thrown in, so just stay home and keep up the prayers.
On Saturday morning, when the doctors came in for their rounds and told us they were keeping her for her 3rd day, Cindy looked at me and said “The antibiotics are kicking in, I’m feeling better. You sitting here beside me at this point is stressing me out knowing you’re not at your gallery opening, and you haven’t showered or changed clothes in 3 days, you need to go home!” I think my stink and wrinkled clothes were getting to her!
She was right!
I made of list of things we needed here at the hospital and went home to change and shower up. I figured I’d show up at the gallery, give everyone a break and be back at the hospital for the evening rounds.
The festival went great. LOTS of people walking through, lots of images being sold, everyone asking how Cindy was doing and saying “Please tell her were praying for her!” and just an all around great weekend, other than the fact that poor Cindy was lying in a hospital room with a dozen things connected to her.
That afternoon, she called and said “They’re taking me off my oxygen to see if my body will try and produce more on it’s own. They want to do it while they can monitor me. But they’re also saying that due to how low my levels are, it’ll knock me out because my body is going to be working so hard, so there is no need for you to come back to the hospital.”
So much to my disagreement, I stayed here and finished out the show.
Sunday morning she said she woke up feeling 10x’s better. Although her oxygen levels were still low, she felt as though the antibiotics had kicked in and mentally she felt better. Only problem was they wouldn’t release her till the afternoon doctor came on and gave her a clear-to-go-home blessing.
Sundays art show went equally as well. The weather was perfect, people seemed to love the art work and I hope it’s the start of a good thing. The day only got better when Cindy called saying “Ok, Doctor just cleared me, they said I can leave in an hour!”
I waved at everyone and said “Thanks for all the hard work, but I have to go get Cindy.”
I was surrounded by great friends and amazing people who all just said “Go, we’ll take care of this!”
The ride to the hospital I contemplated how amazing of a place I live in. A town so tight knit that I can walk out of my business with pretty much everything I own left out in the open. And phenomenal people walk in, organize it, decorate it, clean it up for us and watch over it as if it was their own. There is zero issues or worries if it’ll be safe while I’m gone, I know they have it handled.
I think in a few hours time I got a message from Verizon that I had used up my months allotted data on my phone and it was all due to the amount of phone calls, texts, messages and love being shown to Cindy and I. We are completely overwhelmed with the love, the gratitude and prayers that were shown to us.
I cannot mention everyone by name, nor do I need to, because all of the folks who went out of their way to help us in such a strenuous time did not do it for the thanks I’ll never be able to show them, they did it because they’re amazing people. They did it because it’s who they are.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
Cindy is finally home, in bed where she’ll be for the next few weeks. I promise to keep a watchful eye over her as the doctors warned by no means is she in the clear. We have a long road of recovery ahead of us, and at this point, I’m sure with what will end up being a monumentous hospital bill, it’ll only mean working harder to cover that. It was our decision to not have medical insurance, so it’s my job to work harder to cover the bill. Just puts a fire under my ass to work much, much harder is all. Thank you to everyone who has offered to help us financially, we’re beyond honored that folks would even offer that, but we’re young, I have plenty of more work in me. I called the bar I’ve bartended at and said “I’m in need of money!“, and I got put back on the schedule with plenty of work, so we’ll be good, I know it.
Thanks to EVERYONE who showed how amazing they are these past few days. It’s been a wild ride and I hope to pay it forward if the need ever arises