The Power Of The Press……#247 (the 90’s)

Doctor "D"

Doctor “D”

The daily morning edition of the Wichita paper was provided by Dr. Marcia Drewry, Dr. “D” as she was better known,  when she entered the clinic east door which was the hospital’s old ambulance entrance and adjacent to the kitchen backdoor in the morning.   Most mornings  along with the paper  she would deposit a box of donuts from Val’s donut shop on the picnic table that resided there for the noncertified staff.  The Thursday edition of  the Wichita Eagle Beacon would include what was designated as a social page,  where a person could submit at no charge an introduction of themselves to the public, leaving a phone number for those of like interest to enjoin an introduction.  The brief format mostly filled with men and women seeking a commencement for association.   On a lark,  seated at the picnic table during the morning break, Gary with help from Arvetta Starzyk in dietary, Judy Reed and her housekeeping staff during their morning break formulated a novel idea.  The assembly forthcoming  with the idea to post a social resume of Gary’s personality subsistence for the Eagle Beacon social page.  Gary wanting to submit his interest in classical musical,  his hospital occupation not leaving out his Kansas Hospital Engineers Association Presidency and conclude with a brief physical description., but the ladies would have no part of it coming up with a right to the point brief descriptive ad.  Gary placing a call to the Eagle Beacon society page editors number, a lady answered cordially taking the prescribed ad,  then posing a question, “how do you want it titled?”   Gary was somewhat perplexed at the unexpected question, hesitantly he replied he didn’t know, what do you think?,  the lady replying, “well, you sound like A Prince Charming, how about that”.  The week-long wait was finally over the Thursday morning paper arriving, there in bold print, the lady true to her word.

Ad in the Wichita Eagle Beacon

Ad in the Wichita Eagle Beacon

 Gary’s answering machine having several messages from the opposite gender briefly introducing themselves leaving their number.  A response from a lady in Salina sparking Gary’s interest,  conveying she owned a ranch and raised horses,  in addition  owned a bail-bond business.  Gary was intrigued, but not enough to drive to Salina,  the two agreeing to meet  in Wichita for lunch on Saturday.   His new acquaintance to be,  Sally arriving in a new Cadillac, the two entertaining  lunch at a Carlos O’Kellys mexican restaurant at Town East.  The afternoon finding the couple exploring the realm of Old Town, discovering the lady from Salina also was very familiar with Wichita, knowing the location of several thrift stores, explaining that this is where she did her bargain hunting when down way.   Gary was somewhat taken aback,  her educational presentation and personality, a new car and  proclamation of business ownership all seemed appropriate,  but the thrift shop searching gave way to questions.   The Saturday afternoon coming to a conclusion, the lady extending an invitation to meet again only this time in Salina,  Gary acknowledging  he would have to reference the ambulance schedule and get back to her but it  was already questionable,  having doubts about driving over 3 hours to acquaint someone for lunch let alone start a 170 mile driving distance relationship.

Dr. Don Ransome

Dr. Don Ransome

Prat Reginional Medical Center

Pratt Regional Medical Center

R.N. Patty McNamar

R.N. Patty McNamar

The following morning Gary awakened with excruciating abdominal pain,  at first attributing it to the Mexican food he had consumed Saturday afternoon but the pain was increasing in intensity he  recognizing it was something more serious deciding to drive the short distance to the  Hospital.  Entering he was greeted by a questioning  R.N.,  Patty McNamar,  Gary briefly explaining his condition, Patty immediately notifying the on-call physician Dr. Stranathan.  Dr. Sid arriving,  hesitant of making a diagnosis after Gary related that he had no appendix and that Dr. Ransom had recently done a colonoscopy and all look well.  Dr. Sid placing a call to Dr. Ransom in Medicine Lodge asking the surgeon if it might be best for him to come in.  Dr. Ransom suggesting because of the severity of the pain Gary should be immediately transported  to Pratt Medical Center for a CT Scan.  Dr. Sid telling Patty to notify the Ambulance but before she could Gary stopped her, noticing that Bob the newly acquired Lab Tech,  who resided in the same Price Apartments that Gary did and just happened to be at the hospital Gary asking Bob if he would transport him to Pratt iff he promised not to die on the way,  Bob agreeing, the two traveling in Gary’s Buick to the Pratt Regional Medical Center.   The Pratt Medical Center emergency room staff having been notified, arriving the pain just about incapacitating, Bob assisting  Gary filling out the paperwork,  the hospital staff immediately readying a CT Scan.  The last Gary remembered was a requirement to drink several glasses of some liquid and entering of the Scan.  Awakening three days later in ICU,  the first thing he noticed was the sub cubicle IV’S, knowing their meaning from experience,  sub cubicle IV position was used for major surgical procedures but more often for those with a life threatening prognosis.

R.N. Debbie Duvall

R.N. Debbie Duvall

Removed from ICU to the surgical recovery floor,  the performing surgeon approaching Gary welcoming him back to the real world,  explaining that he had an acute colon rupture and he performed a conventional surgical colectomy.   The surgical procedure entailed  opening his lower cavity,  abstracting his colon and surgically removing 27 inches of the damaged area, doing a complete cavity cleansing so he would be free of any peritonitis infection.   The Doctor giving  further assurance relating he himself was the subject of  a similar operation years earlier without any complications.  Gary soon discovered a concern, he was having difficulty breathing,  the surgical anesthesiologist when visiting remarked that it was the result of having an adverse reaction to the anesthesia being the main reason for the time spent  in ICU and then had to add that he may not survive its use in another operation.   During his stay in the hospital, having just two visits, Bob the lab tech and a two brothers from the Apostolic Christian Church, Huber and Tom Farney.   The eighth day in the hospital found Gary getting restless,  the doctors still not wanting to release him, but as a hospital employee he knew the secret of how to exit confinement.  He had been walking the halls,  spending  time at the Nurses Station,  knowing they would convey this to the doctor and it wasn’t long,  his release was assured.   The timing was right,  Gary placing a telephone call to the Kiowa Hospital at afternoon shift change time,  RN. Debbie Duvall answering,  Gary asking if she could talk someone into picking him up at the Pratt Hospital,  Debbie replying, she was on her way.

Locomotives at the Great Plains Transportation Museum - Wichita

Locomotives at the Great Plains Transportation Museum – Wichita

Dr. Jean Picard phd. in socialogy Wichita Univesity

Dr. Jean Picard – stop before Omaha.

It had been over a week and Gary still awaiting a doctor’s release to return to work, deciding to  visit  an acquaintance in Wichita,  Dr. Jean Picard, PhD.,  a sociology professor at Wichita State University whom he had meant thru his new social endeavor and visited with on ICQ before his medical mishap.    Gary discovering that  Jean was a railroad  groupie,  she loved  trains,  their presence,  their cultivation in American history,  asking Gary if it would be too much for him to drive her to Omaha so she could travel the scenic route west thru the Rocky Mountains to Grand Junction Colorado on the California Zephyr. Once arriving she would rent a car visit the Colorado National Monument, spend the night and retrace her travel back but this time continuing on to Chicago to visit relatives.  Gary wondering about the gravity of her thinking, a turn around trip to Colorado seemed a little much, but after giving it some thought and with nothing better to do agreed to drive her to Omaha.   The two meeting at Jeans residence near the University Campus, their morning spent touring the little known Great Plains Transportation Museum, a small hidden building with many photo’s of the state’s extensive railroad endeavors,  the building was not the main attraction but the locomotives that were exhibited on the sidings next to the no longer used main line.  Gary not as enthused about trains as Jean anxious to get the Buick headed north on Interstate 135 toward Salina, never having driven to Omaha before.   Traveling north the couple finally saying farewell to the 4 lane I-135, at the junction of Interstate 70,  the highway designation returning to US 81, a two lane blacktop known as The Harvest Trail, the historic highway from Ft. Worth to Canada still anointing many of the small rural farming communities.  The couple making a brief stop at a small roadside sandwich shop at Bellville, Jean posing  a question,  would Gary be interested in accompanying her on the journey to Grand Junction and back until she continued on to Chicago?

Old Market Town - Omaha

Old Market Town – Omaha

The California Zephyr

The California Zephyr

The early evening finding the couple arriving at  the Omaha Amtrak Station five blocks from the Missouri River.  Gary having decided to accompany Jean deciding to secure a coach ticket, Jean having already made reservation for a  Berth compartment.   With several hours before departure, the two deciding to  explore The Old Market  Town just north of the train station.   The area much like Old Town in Wichita with converted warehouses with sidewalk cafe’s and shops, the two enjoying some native India cuisine at an outdoor restaurant before their 11:05  departure to Grand Junction.   The iconic California Sante Fe Zephyr  known for it Chicago to Emeryville (Oakland)  California scenic journey arriving.   Gary ready to settle for the night in the lounge car, but Jean mentioned he could utilize the upper berth in the compartment.  Gary discovering a major problem when attempting to climb into the upper berth,  halting and asking if he could  occupy the bottom berth as it had only been a week since his release from the hospital and his abdomen was still stapled together from the colectomy surgery.  Gary noticing a change in her attitude,  reluctantly agreeing but her classroom authority was beginning to show.

Union Station in Denver

Union Station – Denver

The damaged California Zephyr in Denver

The damaged California Zephyr in Denver

Experiencing a very uncomfortable night, Gary realizing his bad judgement in attempting the trip like this so soon, but was determined to make the best of it.   The two finding the dining car for breakfast, Gary seated facing the rear of the train when suddenly noticing some large debris passing by outside the dining car window and before he could say “did you see that” the train immediately coming to a sudden halt.   The conductor giving the passengers notice that they had  struck a vehicle pulling a trailer at a crossing.  Soon more word about the event, the driver uninjured but the horses, numbering seven in a large trailer not surviving, the train setting motionless for two hours while the local Eastern Colorado authorities investigated the accident.  Once resuming the Santa Fe conveyance finally arriving in Denver over two hours late and then another delay in Denver,  Amtrak having to located a replacement locomotive for damaged Zephyr engine.  The travel to Grand Junction finally resuming the train no longer pulled by a sleek lined passenger engine but a work-horse freight locomotive.

A Amtrax view of the Rockies

Amtrak view of the Rockies

Able to view the front from the back

Able to view the front from the back

mesa west of Grand Junction

Mesa west of Grand Junction

Gary was more than impressed with the scenic panoramic view that the majestic Rockies provided between Denver and Grand Junction,  the winding tracks of yesteryear hugging the mountain through the gorges,  the sparkling rivers down below,  the narrow railway tunnels reamed out of bedrock by the workers of a bygone era.    Arriving after dark in Grand Junction,  the two taking a cab Jean having made a prior hotel reservation, Gary getting room more than ready for a night’s rest.  After breakfast Jean trying to maintain her original schedule, leasing a car to explore the Colorado National Monument, the prestigious canyons and mesas west of where two magnificent rivers the Gunnison and the Colorado acquaint each other.   Gary finding the excursion enlighten, but found it exhausting,  having difficulty walking and preferring solitude in his painful discomfort not wanting to say anything that might hamper Jeans agenda.  The late afternoon found them boarding the train for the overnight return ,  Gary deciding he would be more comfortable dozing seated in the lounge car than laying down on hard surface of a berth.   The morning  finding Gary having breakfast alone not wanting to disturb Jean, but having lingering misgivings about the trip, later meeting with her in the observation car.  It was a late morning arrival in Omaha, Jean continuing on to Chicago,  Gary’s only concern was the drive home, but once on the beckoning road feeling  the comfort of his surroundings,  noting the state line sign “Welcome To Kansas“,  the experience although unexpected would be a memorable as would the acquisition of a preface to Dr. Jean Picard, PhD.


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