SATURDAY, MAY 8, 2010 4:27 AM, CDT
Right Choice #7
Who should stay and who should go? I had no idea how to make this choice. What criteria should I use? Would it make a difference to me? To Phillip? To Jeff?
After two days rest at the Protea Hotel, it slowly dawned on me how sick I was. I was still unable to eat, though I could sip on fluids. I vomited several times a day, and when not vomiting I was nauseous. I needed help to pull myself out of bed, to walk up and down the hotel hallway four times a day, and I needed to be reminded to move my feet and legs so that blood clots didn’t form. The doctor said that it would be the 8th of May at the earliest before I could fly – the 8th of May if I was flying first class, so that I could lay down to avoid thrombosis (the pooling of blood clots in my legs.) If I flew coach I would need to wait much later.
I laid in the hotel bed sipping orange juice and sipping water. Phil or one of my students would help me get up on schedule and remind me to take my medicine. The hotel doctor came to visit. He checked my incision – the first person to do so since my surgery nearly a week ago. He listened to make sure my intestines were making noise, and he checked my temperature for fever.
I watched one of the hotels eight television channels (four of them soccer), or I reached out to the outside world on my computer. Phone calls cast over $2.00 a minute, so I saved my calls for special times. I called my children back at home. I called Jeff. Friends back home arranged for their South African friend to pay me a visit one lonely afternoon while the students toured the BMW factory and the Cullian Diamond Mine. It didn’t bother Johan that I was ill, he had suffered a similar medical emergency during a United States visit and strangers had sat with him.
Every conversation with Jeff ended with the same question, “Vic, should I fly over to be with you?” It seemed impossible to me that I could be so sick that someone would need to fly halfway around the world to be with me. The price of a last minute airline ticket must be outrageous. What if he got here and then needed to turn right around and leave, what a waste of everyone’s efforts that would be. He wouldn’t even have time to recover from his 36-hour flight overseas.
And Phil was already here with me, at least for one more day. Would it make more sense for Phil to stay, save the money, make it easier on everyone? Easier on everyone but Phil. Phil had to get home to AP tests, college finals and the last few weeks of his high school life. And Phil needed to be working out if he was to be successful this summer in the Air Force.
The medicines, the pain, the nausea, the exhaustion made it impossible for me to know what was best, and so I let others choose for me. Phil and Jeff had a conversation and the two of them decided that the best thing for me, for Phil and for Jeff – probably in that order – would be for Phillip to depart with the group the next day, and for Jeff to get on the next plane over to South Africa. This plan felt right to me, it felt good. Phil could get on with his life – such an exciting chapter in his life. And Jeff could be with me. My life partner would be right by my side, no matter what the future held.
One day remained before Phil caught his plane home to the United States with the rest of the group. One day would lapse and then Jeff would arrive would by my side.
An uneasiness built deep in my soul, yet I failed to recognize the feeling for what it was. Phil must also have been nervous leaving me all alone. My breathing became tight. I felt light headed. Was I suffering from surgical side affects? Maybe it was an allergic reaction. I took more medicine, assuring Phil I must be responding to the thick city air. Inside I wasn’t so sure. What had they done to me during surgery, and what should I be concerned about now? I was still throwing up ever 5 – 7 hours. I still couldn’t eat. And now I would be left all alone in a strange city in a far away land.
Phil met with the General Manager of the hotel and explained my situation. He asked that someone check on me through the night and into the next day until Jeff arrived. Komodto came to our room. She hugged me and told all would be fine. She would check on me herself and make sure every thing was safe. She would be my protector once Phil left until Jeff arrived. She gave me her cell phone number in case she was at home. She didn’t live far from the hotel she assured me. Lewis left me a South African phone so that I could call her, or my new friend Johan should an urgent need arise. I put the on-call-doctor on speed dial.
Once again, Phil and I shared a tender goodbye. Alone in the hotel I turned to Facebook and looked for faraway friends to keep me company until help arrived from America.