Not all travels are glamorous, fun and fulfilling. Sometimes things just go horribly. Wrong.
It was my boyfriend’s birthday earlier in May. I was planning a surprise trip with his friend from the Bay Area. The plan was that he would drive down to Vegas, surprise my boyfriend, we drive up to Great Basin National Park for a couple of nights, head down south to Moab and camp there for a few nights before heading home to Vegas. It was a masterfully planned trip that I have been planning for a couple of months that started with stalking my boyfriend’s Instagram to find this friend “Matt” that he always talks about.
On the day of the surprise, Matt drove 12 hours from the Bay Area down to Vegas. He showed up at our front door late at night, and my boyfriend was convinced by looking through the peephole that the back of this long-haired man was here for no righteous reasons. After several minutes of us whispering by the door, I finally convinced him the man was not going to kill us and he can open the door.
My boyfriend Tanner was, of course, SHOCKED. He has been planning to meet up with Matt for several months now, but it never worked out. But there he was, at our front door. Needless to say, the two men stayed up late that night enjoying the long awaited reunion.
The next day we started our tip up north. Everybody was happy, the music was great, it was a classic all-American road trip. Halfway through the trip, Tanner took a nap. That nap is when everything went to hell. While Tanner sleeps, I awkwardly try to make conversation with Matt. We’ve never met each other but had one thing in common – filmmaking. So we discussed that for a couple of hours until getting to camp.
Tanner wasn’t feeling quite well when we got to camp, so I set up a tent and put him to sleep for the night. The next morning he had a fever and could hardly stand up. I helped him to the car, where by no exaggeration, he puked about half a gallon of liquid and ended up with diarrhea. He looked like he was dying. I’ve never seen such a sick and dead glaze.
We rushed Tanner to the nearest hospital in Ely, which was 1.5 hours away. He was immediately taken into the care of the ER as he puked into several bags and cans. They took blood from all the places possible and did all the tests imaginable on him. The tiny hospital was in a tiny town, so naturally we became the most exciting talking point for the hospital staff. The original plan was that he sees a doctor, takes some meds, and we head back to camp that same night. Little did we know, his stay would be 4 days.
In the ER, they gave him bag after bag after bag of IV – he was so dehydrated from puking that his kidneys had been damaged and were starting to shut down. His blood work came back with an astonishingly high white blood cell count, 3 to 5 times higher than normal. Temperature high, oxygen levels low, but COVID-19 negative, they couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him. I anxiously sat next to him in the dark for hours.
He was admitted into the hospital. The next several days consisted of my brother driving all around the outskirts of town while diligently studying the map to find places for us to camp. We had to be close enough to the hospital but far enough to be off city boundaries. The first night was spent next to an electric station off the highway where we heard the loud buzzing of intense electricity all night long. The next night was spent off a forest road in BLM property. Matt was smart enough to get a hotel in town through our stay.
I spent the majority of my time in the hospital by Tanner’s side as he was slowly regaining life in his eyes. To make the best of our situation, we all took an excursion to Duckwater where a beautifully located natural hot spring stood in isolation of a desert valley. Despite many signs saying the springs is not open, I couldn’t resist getting in. Maybe the warm natural springs could wash away the reality, and for a moment put me in the beautiful present.
On Monday, Memorial day, Matt texted me saying he was tested positive for COVID-19; he got it from his mother before coming down to Vegas. He went home the day before, realizing there was no reason for him to stay stuck with us anymore. Of course, after hearing that he tested positive, I immediately started feeling symptoms myself. I spent that afternoon laying on the grass trying to figure out a solution to our situation. Thankfully Tanner got out of the hospital that evening, and we took the 4 hour drive home.
On the drive home I was becoming sicker and sicker. The next morning I tested COVID positive and Tanner ended up back in the ER. The only upside to things at this point was that we were back in Vegas. Tanner couldn’t take his antibiotics without puking out half a gallon of liquid. My brother took him to the hospital where he was admitted for another several nights. During this time I could hardly get out of bed and was feeling the virus attack my body. I lost my smell (I would smell my armpits from time to time, checking if I could still smell), had a splitting headache, and was coughing up gunk with strands of blood. Thankfully I never had to go to the hospital, and against all odds, Tanner tested negative.
As I am writing this story, I am sitting in my last day of quarantine. Tanner is staying at a hotel with his dad waiting for me to be COVID-free. Matt is back home, also in his last day of quarantine. Nobody has said it yet, but our trip was a total and utter DISASTER. One sickness followed by another. A classic example of “life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” – Allen Saunders, 1957.
I guess looking back now, there are 3 things I’ve learned:
- Don’t rush your body, let it take the course of healing at its own speed. If Tanner was able to do this, he wouldn’t have ended up in the hospital twice.
- Not every trip is amazing and life changing. I might have had many great adventures, but experiencing one gone wrong really helps me appreciate the ones gone right. Besides, this trip turned out to be an adventure of its own.
- Accept things as they come; not everything will go as planned. It might seem stressful when things don’t go as you thought, but they always workout in the end.
The light that makes this “situation” worthwhile is that Tanner and my relationship has grown to be stronger. Might seem weird, but caring for someone in the hospital can make you realize how much you love them. Not much else I can say about that. I guess in some way, with all the diarrhea, this trip did end up being “bad ass” and “badass”.