Bill and Helen/ 2011 travel blog

It was three weeks ago today that we arrived at the KOA in Billings, MT.. We were looking so forward to seeing my daughter Coleen, Grandson Michael and his beautiful wife Alissa and the person that has been the apple of our eye, the little great grandson that I call Little X… His name is Xavier and he is 2 ½ years old and can run you ragged… Little X was soon to become big brother X but first there is more to the story..

When we arrived at the KOA we had hoped to get a spot where we could stay in a full hook up site for a week.. That was not to be…. The only place they could put us with fhu had a rate of $71.00 a day (plus taxes) . They did have a site with electric for four days at only $49.00 a day but we would have to move on Wednesday because they wanted to water the grass… We had only planned on being here for a week so we said OK.. We would stay there four days and then move but could use the dump station on the way.. Let me tell you, we have never paid almost $50.00 for a site that didn’t even have sewer.. Well it is what it is and soon the kids all came over to see us… Oh my, how wonderful that was.. It was terribly hot and before we grilled hot dogs the kids and little X all went to the pool.. (extra money for that too).. We had a wonderful afternoon and evening with them and when Bill mentioned that he thought he should go to the Billings Day Care Clinic to Alissa to see if he needed a med change since he hadn’t been feeling right when they doubled his Lipitor before we left Florida… Alissa works at the hospital and encouraged him to do so… You might remember that last year I did that same thing when I was having troubles and during the time I was there a tornado came thru Billings for the first time in 50 years… Wow, we sure know how to crank things up..

Monday morning we drove to the Clinic and Bill answered all the questions they asked and kept telling them it was the meds that caused his distress.. They didn’t listen to him.. They took tests and very soon he was being pushed in a wheel chair while I was running (literally) behind trying to keep up.. We were soon in ER and they continued with more tests,, MRI, EKG, STRESS and I don’t know how many others .. The tests came back showing problems but inconclusive to exactly what was wrong so they wanted him to have more tests in the morning… This one was called the nuclear stress test and we were to be there by 7:30 am…. This test was at a building across the road from the hospital and they started with him as soon as we got there.. After the nuclear stress test the Dr. called us and told us he did not like what he saw and wanted to do an angiogram right away… They told us that if they found the blockage they suspected they could put a stint in right away and ;we could be on our way shortly…. Bill gave his permission and a shuttle was called to take him back to the hospital but the gal in charge did not like the wait so once again, I was running behind while she was pushing Bill across several parking lots to get to admissions… When we arrived there was a long wait at admissions… Not for us though.. We were taken behind closed doors and they took him right in again… What seemed like hours but really wasn’t, they came out and told us that the stint did not look like a good thing to do… The blockage was in a really bad part of what they called the widow maker artery and the pressure of the splint could push the blockage into the adjourning arteries.. They said that because of the rest of his body being in such great health they recommended doing open heart surgery and curing him for good… OK… No time to think but Bill wanted to do what they thought best… Right from the start he had all the confidence with this facility ….. Behind the scenes all this time was our little Alissa making sure we had the best of everything… Her job is working with the doctors and nurses that are now in charge of Bill’s life and she was wonderful… Bill was admitted and was prepped that night for early morning surgery… Wow, my head is spinning and I was a wreck… I couldn’t even drive the truck back to the campground that night or the next couple of days either… Thank God for getting us to Billings and family… They were awesome.. Coleen was my chauffer as well as Michael and Alissa.. They did whatever was needed and still are…

When I came back to the KOA on Tuesday evening I talked to the gals in the office and told them about the surgery the following morning.. They were wonderful and called the owners to see if I could stay where I was the next day.. Remember, they wanted to water…I was told it would be OK if I pulled all my slides in so I didn’t cover any grass.. OK, I got up at 4 am and pulled the slides in and then went to the hospital for one of the longest days of my life.. I say one of the longest because those of you that have known me for many years know that I went through this before with my previous husband…

It was shortly after 6AM before we left for the OR waiting area… They allowed me to stay until the last minute and then I was ushered to the waiting area when they took him into surgery… I was warned that it could be up to six hours before I heard anything but thankfully after about 3 ½ hours the Dr. came in and told me that the surgery was complete and that he did exceptional… I was not surprised with that since that is just Bill.. He said that it would be at least an hour before they would bring him to the recovery room where I could see him and it was closer to two before that happened.. He looked great except for about 50 tubes coming from everywhere,… They had warned me that he would probably be very pale but we are from Florida remember and the tan was still there… That day was terrible for him… He was in pain a lot even with the medication they gave him all day long… It turns out that the better shape you are in (muscles etc) the more it hurts and the nurses told me that his body was more like patients in their 50’s instead of a 70+ young man… Yup, that’s my guy…Sorry Hon..

They kept him in ICU until the next afternoon but only after they had him sitting up in a chair for a bit and had him try to eat… He didn’t eat enough to keep a bird alive and to this date has lost over 9 pounds…He does have his appetite back so hopefully he will gain a little back..

The workers at the KOA had told me that the owner would be there on Thursday from 4-9 pm so I made a point of leaving the hospital early that night to talk to her.. I knew we would need to be here at least 6 weeks before we could travel again so when I went to the office she was visiting with a friend and eating her dinner.. I waited and waited and the gal at the desk said maybe I should come back a little later… OK.. I did… Stressed to the max I waited for her to finally talk to me only to have her tell me that she didn’t have room for us and I needed to get off our lot in two days… We could come back after August 15th and they could give us a full hook up site but they don’t give discounts and it would be over $60.00 a day… I asked if they had anyone that could help me move and was told no… Guess what? Right at the entrance to the KOA is a house that I assume is owned by the owners and parked in their yard is a Montana Big Sky exactly like ours… Same color and everything… Such nice people don’t you think?

By now I was beyond stressed… Here I am with a 40 ft. house that needed to be moved and even though I have had training to do that I am in no shape… I turned to my wonderful friends in the RV World and had people that are over 1000 miles away offer to help… Thankfully, one of our good friends from the Montana Owners Club called and said that he had a brother that lived in Billings and also owns a 5th wheel … He will be happy to help… Roger said he was at my beck and call so we set up a time early in the morning on Sunday.. We had hoped to get moved before it got too hot since every day had been in the high 90’s…. We started early but we were both dripping when we got set up at Yellowstone River RV Park just a couple blocks away from the KOA,,,, Here we are in a long term area and have a spacious site for a rate that is affordable and the people are awesome…Roger Henry, I just can’t thank you enough….. Don’t get me wrong, the help at the KOA was wonderful to me but the female owner has ice in place of blood and $$$ is all she sees…. Enough said.. She is not worth another thought.

Once we were moved I could stay with Bill at the hospital and do whatever was needed… The staff at the Billings Clinic/hospital is incredible…. I can sure see why they are so highly rated and why Alissa loves working there… She did her internship here over five years ago and when she was offered a job she came right away.. She say’s that it would be hard to work any place else after being here and I understand why….

Six days after his open heart surgery we were able to bring Bill back to his home on wheels where every day he is getting stronger… But there is so much more… Believe me, the excitement is not over by a long shot… Right now I am more than tired so come back…


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