On December 3rd, 2008 Christen King and I embarked on our quick trip over to England for the Manchester Revolution #22! Christen and I had probably not spoken for more than maybe 5 minutes before this trip, we knew of each other, but to say we really knew each other would be a stretch. But we both knew when we meet up at our gate in the airport that the following 4 days would pretty much be spent together the whole time, little did we know what was in store for us.
My plan was working perfectly...I had done the online seat selection for the plane over and I outsmarted the all by deciding to pick a seat in the last row (where I hoped no one else would pick and I would end up with a row to lay in), Bingo!
and I even got Christen hooked up with 2 free seats by the window so she could have a bit more room!
more good news came with Starbucks coffee!...yeah it wasn't the greatest but common, I was on an airplane.
So, things are off to a great start! Grant it my sleeping plan was going less than amazing as it was like trying to sleep on an oversized washboard with obstructing hard objects every-time I tired to re-situate. BUT apparently Christen was having a worse time than I, as I rolled over at one point to find a flight attendants rear end in my face as they were placing an oxygen tank next to my new friend Christen and securing an oxygen mask over her face! What the heck! I had one of those adrenaline reaction startles and sat straight up to ask her if she was okay and what was going on? She just kinda shrugged and waved it off and although worried I figured it was just a small reaction to the flying and would dissipate with a little time and rest...right? Later on the flight she comes back to her seat after a bathroom trip and says her legs are turning red, huh, that is strange. I should mention that I really wanted to take a picture of Christen with the oxygen mask and tank but I basically felt like I didn't know her well enough and I didn't want to get a bad reaction so I refrained. As it turn out we talked about it later and were both disappointed I hadn't documented the moment!
Next, we get to London where we just have one more quick flight to get us to Manchester. By now Christen's arms are turning red also, and seemingly the rest of her body as well. We grab a bit to eat at this pretty steallar place in the airport and Christen spots an interesting selection..."spotted dick pudding"...uummmm
Anyhow we start to try and figure out why Christen is red? She thought maybe she was having a reaction to her compression tights at first but that didn't make a lot of sense with the redness spreading over her whole body. She was excessively warm as well and it seemed she must be having some sort of histamine response or allergic reaction to something. We just keep hoping it will go away and get better!...I mean that was a good plan we thought!
Now it is Thursday afternoon and we make it to Manchester and one of the guys from the Velo picks us up and drops us at the hotel, then taking all our gear over to the track. We tell him we will probably lay low for the night but be over for training friday. We kinda monitor Christen and use the internet on our blackberry's to try looking up information on why Christen King has suddenly turned red! Our collaborated diagnoses with a few other contacts ends us being that it must be an allergic reaction, so maybe benadryl with help? Surly it will! I tell Christen no worries she can stay and rest, I don't mind going out to hunt some stuff down. And I promise to try and find something entertaining to document with a picture for her to view upon my return. The hotel says to catch a taxi to the ASDA, which of course is actually a SUPER WAL-MART 24HRS...what else was I expecting...
I was planning to just have the taxi wait outside but upon arrival to this massive store I decided against it
I wondered around a bit just checking things out and making my way to the pharmacy section or the "chemist" as they call it. I did find this bit of entertainment for Christen, although it was most probably more entertaining to see the looks on peoples faces as I put my foot up for this picture, it really needed a size of scale, I tried without it and justice just couldn't be had
I also picked up a little snack, which I found in the "healthy snacks" section, thank you very much!
Once to the Chemist section I gathered all the chemist's to tell them about all Christen's symptoms and see if anyone had any bright ideas beyond benedryl? Nope not really, benedryl it was. Oh and I learned that Tylenol is called pericitimal, or something like that.
While waiting for a taxi outside the ASDA I thought it should be noted there is a McDonald's everywhere...
Also the Manchester City Football Club is just across the way...it is HUGE and that "football" of course is equivalent to american "soccer"
Note the Mums to be sign in the parking lot
When I got back Christen laughed at the picture of the chips and enjoyed some yogurt bar!
She took some more Tylenol and some benedryl and we hoped it would be all better in the morning. No such luck. Still red and not so well feeling in the morning. The hotel suggested a walk in clinic and after determining that even as American's the care would be provided free we decided it probably wasn't a bad idea.
We made our way to this walk in
right next to K's Chemist
Things seemed to be going well, they ruled out Meningitis at that point and were ready to send us on our way until they took her temperature, which was equivalent to about 100degrees! yikes. The doctor there said it was probably fine but she wanted us to go to the MRI A&E, that means the Manchester ER...just to get a simple blood test done to ensure there was nothing further to worry about. 2.5 hours later after sitting in ER surrounded by a bunch of sick, hacking people we end up here...
Oh I forgot to mention when we checked in and they asked the usual "have you been here before?", Christen said yes. What?! Yeah, this was the ER she had gone to when she split her knee open at Manchester World Cup and they stitched her up. Crazy! Less paper work for us! The bed she is in above was one stall over from where she had been previously...cool huh.
Yep they were ready to draw all the blood right out of her
while doing some more waiting we took this comparison picture and it doesn't really even do her red skin justice but gives and idea
and the surgeon who had stitched Christen's knee up even paid her a visit...kinda crazy!
This is all beginning to take far longer than we expected but they are busy and we really don't have a whole lot of options. Eventually we get put back in a waiting room, then taken up stairs to the ward section (I'm thinking that is not good), but they send us back downstairs (pheww, that was close), oh no there was a mistake they do want us upstairs so they can monitor her for 6 HOURS!!!! HUH?...Christen and I look at each other like "are you kidding, what is going on". Our escort proceeds to tell us that "he didn't say so" but if she is feeling better in a few hours we can just say we want to discharge her ourselves and we can leave. Okay fair enough we figure. Blood results come back okay but they are still not so sure about what is going on. Oh and her temperature has elevated further and is now equivalent to about 101.6degrees...aahhhh. She starts to feel not so well again, headaches are coming and going, presumably according to the consumption of pericitimal. I am nagging the nurse about getting a doctor..."ok, but you told me 45min. ago that a doctor would be 5-10 minutes and we still have not seen anyone, can I at least get some more pericitimal for her, she hasn't had any in over 5 hours, etc." Eventually a doctor comes and takes Christen. It had been awhile and then it happened, a nurse came in and proceeded to help me gather her things and then escorted me to her new stall, where they would be keeping her overnight. She had a nightgown and the whole bit. I told her it was very flattering and she looked beautiful!
I try to nag for some more information and then after sitting with Christen awhile longer I head to the hotel to pick up some things and bring them back to her. We had gotten to the walk in around 9am or so and it was now about 8pm and I was just leaving the hospital. I gathered her things at the hotel and I packed my massive messenger bag with everything I would need for the night and to get to the races at the track the next day. I was NOT going to leave her there by herself overnight, I didn't care if I slept in a chair before the races or what, I was all she had there and I had my heart set on staying there with her. I got back to the hospital and they had moved her to her own room! How exciting huh.
By now I'm pretty much a pro at navigating the Manchester hospital and I walk around with authority like I know exactly what I'm doing, that way no one questions you! The taxi can drop me at any entrance and it is no problem, I know where to go. We are in Ward 5
which is the programmed investigation unit, basically where they put you if they don't know what's wrong and then they just send in a crap load of different specialist to ask all the same questions and take more blood from you for whatever "their" test is. Seriously Christen said they just kept coming in for more blood...they even did a spinal tap.
In any case when I return to the hospital Friday night with all my stuff ready to have a slumber party at the hospital they tell me I can't stay with her. I'm about ready to jump the nurse and explain that I WILL be staying when she argues that I can't stay, because she is under investigation for meningitis. They didn't think that she had it but I guess because they couldn't figure out what was wrong now it was back on their list and they were doing further tests. I didn't know what to say to this. I mean I wanted to stay but I knew that if she really did have meningitis the last thing we needed was for both of us to have it. I felt pretty much helpless and powerless and really really bad. I took Christen her things, chatted with her for a few minutes and then reluctantly said goodnight and let her know to call me anytime if she needed anything, I felt like a horrible person walking out of that hospital.
After a night a the hotel I called the hospital first thing in the morning to make sure they were going to let me in to see her. They said I could see her and I found out through messages with Christen that they said NO meningitis for sure! Carole (a women from the track) picked me up and we went to see Christen. She was doing alright but hadn't been able to sleep much. After chatting for a few minutes Carole took me to the track so I could build my bike for the nights races. Then I headed back to the hospital to spend the afternoon with Christen. She was finally starting to feel a bit better and her temperature seemed to be leveling out without continuous pericitimal! We still had no solid answers to what was going on though. Eventually I had to leave for the races and I let the nurses know I would be coming back past visiting hours just so they had a heads up that I was expecting to get in. While at the track I got word from Christen that they would release her with me after the races that night! Great! That way we could be at the hotel that night and then be ready for our ride to the airport at 6am next morning.
As for the races.
It was a packed crowd again
These nice brit girls helped me pin my numbers
and my legs felt far less than wonderful, which after 3 days of sitting in airplanes, airports, and a hospital was about what I was expecting
The points race was pretty ugly for me and I don't even know where I finished, not top 5. Then Christen and I were meant to do a team time trial against a few brit girls but given that Christen could not race it was just me vs. a brit girl and the distance was shortened to a flying 500m. I ran a 33.18, not my best time, and not good enough. But I was doing what I could. The last race was a 6 lap dash and I felt like I raced it pretty well. In the end there was one girl a bit off the front and then another girl and I chasing. I jumped around the girl with about a lap to go and I was gaining on the lead rider, I started to think I might actually have a shot at catching her, and I came close. But I didn't quite make it and I also got nipped at the line by one other tire above me so I turned out 3rd. A bit disappointing but I felt I raced it pretty well in general.
Overall, it was quite the adventure of sorts. Hats of to Christen for being such a trooper and I figure if we can have as much fun as we did in that situation, there will be more good times when we are both healthy!