It is tradition in our group of friends to share a ginormous beer as one last toast, one last farewell at our favorite little hole in the wall just off post.  But there are only two families left.  It just didn’t feel the same. We combined Emmett, Karen, Liam & Becca’s traditional toast with our last Thanksgiving together.

Emmett is well over 6 ft, he makes our big beer and big beer glass look small.  We all had a sip, carefully hoisting the big beer glass to our lips before setting it aside and digging into turkey & all the fixings.  Dinner was fabulous, delicious and waaaaaaaaaay too much.  After all this time, I still haven’t adapted to not cooking for my big boys too.  Thankfully, left overs after Thanksgiving are more than welcome.  I’m looking forward to a big bowl of turkey stew tonight.

Every year, after the big meal, and some pie, we pull out our board games for a gaming marathon.  My new game is the Talisman board game from Fantasy Flight.  It was only my second time playing, the last game was in August with my sister in France.  It is a complex game with many hidden strategies.  I think I need to play another round or ten to really find my groove.  Sadly, we didn’t even finish the first round.

Emmett started losing, and at first I attributed his grumpiness (though one can never truly call Emmett grumpy) to losing.  But his face turned red, he couldn’t sit comfortably and I knew something wasn’t right.  When he complained of a sore throat, with a little prompting, only on his left side, I knew it was time to go to the hospital.  That he didn’t protest and followed me right out to the van was proof something was wrong.

David called our base to let them know we were bringing in a military member to our local hospital.  They called me en route, and I updated them on Emmett’s condition (thankfully still talking, but in serious pain), and they called ahead to the local emergency room.  Emmett walked into the ER under his own power.  Not that Karen nor I, or even together, could have carried him in.

A little after midnight, on Thanksgiving, the Sindlefingen ER was dark and deserted save for one lone woman sitting at the end of a big, cavernous waiting room.  It was more than eerie as we made our way to her desk, our footsteps echoing in the emptiness.  She quickly and efficiently checked us in, that asked us to keep walking; take a left, another left, a right and someone would help us.  Hesitantly Karen & I made our way through even darker, abandoned, hallways with Emmett still following under his own power.

The maze ended in a brightly lit room.  Dark hallways octopussing out in all directions.  Suddenly a tired, lone nurse shuffled out of one hallway, took our insurance card, and shuffled down another dark hallway. Again leaving us alone in a big emptiness.  She returned shortly, beckoned us to follow, and we were led down an even darker hallway, this one truly barely lit lined with empty, ghostly beds.  She turned on the light to an emergency bay, the lights flickering several times before beaming bright.  If you had taken our  blood pressure at that moment, both Karen and I would’ve seemed ill as well.  Emmett was at the end of his strength and didn’t notice, almost falling onto the gurney.

Within seconds Emmett was hooked up to monitors, EKG, blood drawn and given medicine.  His blood pressure well over 200, his heart rhythm out of the normal range.  A doctor quickly appeared, evaluated Emmett, and began check-in procedures.  Emmett would not be going home with us.  Thankfully he responded beautifully to the medications and within minutes he was out of pain and feeling much better.  The hospital staff performed some more tests, some more medicine and was given, and they were satisfied he was stable.

We were handed Emmett’s charts and test results, given brief directions, and nurses and doctor scurried away, disappearing into dark halls leaving us again alone in empty corridors stretching for miles in darkness.  We stood.  Alone.  Confused.  And more than a little afraid.  Karen broke the tension with a nervous giggle and a juvenile imitation of Michael Myers on Halloween. I was pretty sure she wasn’t possessed by an evil spirit, but nevertheless I quickly led the way toward the elevators and the cardiac ward.

A couple floors up it was no louder, no less abandoned, no brighter than down on the main level.  We stood in a completely quiet hallway, in front of closed patient doors and an empty nurses station:

“Hello?” We whispered.
“Hello!” We yelled quietly.  And from around the corner another nurse shuffled, apologizing for making us wait.  She quickly bustled us all into a bare room, then brought in a bed, nightstand, and monitor for Emmett.  While I’ve been in German hospitals before, and I knew what to expect, we had left the house too fast to pack a bag for Emmett.  I asked her for a gown for him to change into.  Normally patients provide their own pajamas, towels, personal toiletries, but we had rushed and at 3:00 in the morning neither Karen or I were going to drive home for Emmett’s pj’s.

The nurse brought Emmett the biggest gown she could find.  He looked at it, chuckled (what a wonderful sound after the last 4 hours!) and gamely tried it on over his clothes.  It barely reached his hips, the back wide open.  Sometimes being a giant is not a useful thing.  Karen and the nurse got him tucked into bed, and as we left he looked comfortable if not exhausted.

Late last night Emmett was discharged.  The new medication has him feeling much better, but he has a long road ahead of him.  We’ll find out Monday if he’ll be cleared to fly back to the states on Wednesday as planned.  As much as I’d like to keep him here, as much as I’d like to keep them all here, I am praying he is well enough to travel.  That would be amazing news.


Emmett & the ginormous beer