So What Happened in the DR?

You might have seen a few stressful posts on my Facebook page in late July.  Here it goes.  My mom & I booked a vacation to Punta Cana, Dominican Republic.  After a stressful year with hip surgery, I desperately needed to lay on a beach & do nothing.  The trip was meant to be five nights during the low season.  What happened was not even close to a mindless vacation.

We flew out of Chicago on Friday, July 28th.  Other than raccoon-like eyes from waking up at 5am, things were going smoothly.  However, the trip turned sour when my mom couldn’t fill out the landing card.  Her hands started shaking uncontrollably.  She said everything was fine & that she needed to eat & rest.  Okay.  Naturally, she didn’t just need to eat & rest.  We landed & started to deplane, but her legs appeared to go & a crew member brought a wheelchair.  It was so unbearably hot & muggy that I thought I might lose control of my limbs.  I was certain I would faint when she had a seizure inside the airport.  I was confident I would faint when other travelers stared at us with empty expressions.  Thankfully, I kept it together.

We were able to arrive at our resort just in time for another seizure in the lobby.  The doctor on call attempted to treat her, but the symptoms required a ride in the ambulance to the hospital.  My anxiety levels soared & then some.  I could barely communicate with hospital staff due to the language barrier.  The doctors proceeded to administer a number of tests & we were required to stay the night.  No real diagnosis was made, but she received fluids & other medications (I’m foggy on the details because neither of us slept or ate).  I do remember an issue with fluid in her lungs because she was given too many fluids.

At 6am on Saturday morning after about a solid 30 minutes of rest, I took a cab to our resort to make calls & figure out how to get us home.  My absence at the hospital resulted in someone stealing all the cash from my mom’s purse.  I’m not an angry person, but I got ANGRY.  My efforts to recover the money yielded no results.  A psychiatrist proceeded to speak with my mother about her mental health.  Again, anger to the 10th degree.  After another night of no sleep, I asked the doctors (who thankfully spoke Spanish; the rest of the hospital staff did not) to please discharge her.  I just wanted to take my mother home.  They insisted she stay, but I was not having it.  I signed the papers & would take full responsibility for her well-being outside the hospital.

Hallelujah!  Three positive things happened: a killer arm workout from pushing a wheelchair across the massive resort, zipping through border control & immigration (thank you, wheelchair!), & “the green monster,” or the oxygen tank:

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My mom thought this contraption was hilarious.  She would roll over & bed & see this green blob.  “The green monster” seemed like a fitting name.   This was the only time we laughed in the Dominican Republic & it was over an oxygen tank.

She was eventually diagnosed with pneumonia & high cholesterol in the United States.  The experience, though, will stay with us.  It sounds strange, but we endured a bit of PTSD.  We could barely communicate, we were on our own, & we had no idea if they would release us.  Despite the stress, I knew I had to put on my big girl pants & get us home.

Now, I feel confident we can go anywhere.  The experience was top three worst in my life, but it’s an important one to have.  The two of us can endure just about anything.  My mom will always be the best travel partner!

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