My photography and hiking vacation in Southwestern Colorado took an acute twist last night. I ended up in Durango’s Mercy Regional Medical Center for an emergency operation.
After two and one-half great days in Mesa Verde National Park, I drove 30 miles to Durango. My plan had been to finish my vacation with a 90- mile round trip from Durango to Silverton on the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad. The train has been in continuous operation for 127 years through spectacular mountain scenery.
I even bought a ticket to go Deluxe Class from 9 this morning to 6 this evening. I also got a room in a Durango motel for last night and tonight.
But about 7 p.m. yesterday I got a stomach ache that just wouldn’t go away. At midnight I rather sheepishly I drove to the emergency room in Durango’s Animas Surgical Hospital.
Instead of laughing at me, the nurse, Cindy, and the doctor, Russell Hill, took my complaint seriously. So seriously, in fact, that the doctor immediately had a radiology technician give take a CT scan, which he then sent it electronically to a group of radiologists in the Midwest for their reading.
That reading was not good news. Instead of an upset stomach, the CT scan seemed to show that my small intestine was twisted. The twist formed a kink that backed up what I had eaten yesterday from passing out of my body.
While Animas Surgical Hospital must perform a lot of surgeries, Dr. Hill referred me to Dr. Robert Desko at Mercy Regional Medical Center. Dr. Desko was on call at the middle of the night and agreed to have me
directly admitted to Mercy. I drove there at 3 a.m.
At Mercy the nurses immediately inserted a nasogastric tube through my nose, past my throat, and down into my stomach to drain its contents. Throwing up a couple of times also helped, but neither strategy offered much relief to the pressure and my pain.
Dr. Desko studied my CT scan and told me that it clearly showed to him that a section of my small intestine was twisted and might need to be “resectioned,” in other words cut out. But when he felt my stomach he didn’t think it was likely that he would have to resection my small intestine.
About 10 this morning they wheeled me into one of the hospital’s five operating rooms. After operating, Dr. Desko told me in the recovery room that the operation was a success and that he had freed up the twisted part of my small intestine. It had been stuck to the omentum.
Dr. Desko also said that I would need to stay in the hospital from three to five days in order to recover from my operation. Since I have a lovely new private room and the most attentive nurses imaginable, the arrangement is even better than the motel room I traded for it.
Every time that Boulder seems to have too many people, I have considered living in Durango, About 16,000 people lived here the last time they counted. Many of them are telecommuters, according to one of my guidebooks. Since that’s what I am too, I wanted to see what living here is like. Through this strange twist of fate I am beginning to