Vegas or Burst

photo (3)For about a month, three of the four sisters were planning a trip to Las Vegas to celebrate my 45th birthday and to just relax and getaway.  The hotel was booked, the flight was reserved, the spa passes were arranged, the bags were packed.

The day before the trip Kathy stayed home from work with stomach pains.  She assumed it was something she had dealt with before and would subside before out trip commenced.

4am Tuesday morning, she isn’t feeling 100% but we get on the road anyways.  Around the same time Erika is catching her flight out of Indiana and we should meet up at McCarren airport at about the same time.

During the drive I could tell Kathy wasn’t comfortable, she was driving and was hunching a bit, but insisted she would be fine.

About an hour and a half in she pulled over decided she couldn’t drive anymore.  No problem, I climbed in the drivers seat and we continued on our way.

Just before Barstow she realized she could no longer take it and we headed to the local hospital.  Barstow Community Hospital (if you are ever in need out that way) is a beautiful new facility that just opened.  We were a bit fearful when we decided to go that far away from “civilization” but our fears were assuaged when we got inside and they immediately began taking care of her.

During an ultrasound it was assumed the pains were her gall bladder and the doctor ordered a surgery consult.  The surgeon wasn’t convinced and wanted a CT scan done.  By now Kathy was lucid enough to realize that maybe being in the middle of nowhere was going to be costly even with her insurance.  And sure enough after a call to her provider (Aetna) and a consult with the hospital cashier it was determined that up to this point Kathy would be out of pocket already in the thousands of dollars and that a CT scan would be $13,000 for which she would be responsible for HALF!  Even the doctor was flabbergasted by this news.

Kathy decided she would risk the pain of driving back to Glendale to her “in network” hospital and signed out of Barstow AMA.

Meanwhile Erika has landed in las Vegas, caught a shuttle to the hotel, bummed around the casin and upon hearing the news that we were headed back to LA, she caught a taxi back to the airport and hopped a flight to LAX.

Skipping past the trip to Walmart to fill a prescription and the drive to LAX after the dropping the patient off.

In the ER of Verdugo Hills Hospital it was determined (via the CT Scan that was now covered 100% by insurance) that it was not the gall bladder but instead the appendix.  The surgeon was called in and decided he didn’t want to wait until morning and good thing too.

Turns out her appendix was perforated by the time they got in there.  the surgeon showed us some “beautiful” color photos of it when he came out and said he was certain he cleaned her all up.

A prolonged stay in recovery because her blood pressure was low, a move to the ICU the following day because the blood pressure was still low and a move back upstairs the following day.

It is 4 days later and she is up and about, on a liquid (including Diet Coke) diet and just had her first shower.

Erika is heading back to South Bend in the morning and I start a 12 day work stint on Monday.  No specific decision has been made as to when Kathy will be allowed to come home.  But we will deal with everything as best we can when that happens.

Thanks to everyone for the thoughts and offers of support.  It hasn’t been the best birthday celebration so far, but it certainly hasn’t been the worst either.

Enhanced by Zemanta


  1. What an incredible story. And especially the realization you had to get out of financial hell in Barstow. I have to say that part of the story blows me away. That we have to take, perhaps dangerous, risks in order to get the help we need without going bankrupt. And happy belated birthday. xo S

  2. Someday soon, this will be a fantastic tale of the birthday vegas trip gone awry. I’m so happy that she is ok. If you drank, I’d buy you a beer. xo

Leave a Reply