Yesterday we went to Little Rock, stayed the night at the Air Base, and took Riah to the doctor this morning.
We made a decent start Tuesday morning, but hadn’t got 10 minutes out of town on the infamous Pig Trail when Taryn and I both got car sick. Bob drove carefully, but I had to strain every muscle and nerve in my body to focus on the yellow stripe in order to not be sick. We stopped at the one gas station on the road, got a Cream Soda and some garlic chips, and stood around for a few minutes, then I drove the rest of the way down.
After lunch at a Burger King, Bob took the wheel again, and we finally made it to the base. Everybody has to stop at the gate and show military ID to get in. I pulled out mine, Taryn’s and Naysha’s, and Bob handed over his driver license. The guard looked it over and asked if Bob had a visitor’s pass, and it still didn’t hit Bob until I pointed out that he’d handed over the wrong ID. One year out, and 20 year’s training just washed down the drain.
We got checked in easily enough. Our rooms were in the same building as last time, but this time we were upstairs. We unloaded and tried to unwind for a few minutes, then went back out to try some shopping. The BX (department store) was a bust. I did buy a new pillow, but we didn’t find anything else we were interested in. We had dinner in the food court – pizza for some, and Charley’s Grilled Subs for some. We hadn’t had Charley’s since we left Lakenheath. It was still good, but MY WORD they were slow. No one in the entire store had a smile.
Feeling somewhat better, we next attempted the commissary (grocery store). I found a few items that were cheaper there, such as oatmeal and canned pineapple, but for the most part the prices were comparable with what I see around here. Beef was quite a bit cheaper, but I didn’t want that sitting in my car for 24 hours. We ran into a couple from our church in Cabot (where we got married), and they remembered us quite clearly. We got some ice cream for a snack, and cereal and milk for breakfast, and headed back to the room.
It was only 6:30, and we had talked about going to downtown Little Rock to see if the river was decorated for Christmas, but with the car sickness, headaches, and thick fog outside, we decided to stay in. The children were excited to get baths, as we only have a shower at home, so we started in on that. As I walked down to the second room for Ella’s bath, I saw a sort of dayroom just past the door. There were toys, books, and videos. So after a few baths, we let the children play around for a while, then went back to the room and watched a video. Ice cream, followed by more baths, and we were ready for bed.
This morning we ate, cleaned the dishes, packed up, and checked out. We were a little anxious about getting to the hospital in downtown Little Rock, so just went straight out there, arriving 2 hours before the appointment time. We consulted the map and found we were just a few blocks from Central High School, an icon of the desegregation of public schools. So we headed that way, took a few pictures, and told the story the best we knew it (we were off by a few details). The children were interested, and some needed a bathroom very badly, so we went across the street to the National Park’s Central High School visitor’s center. We were greeted enthusiastically by a park ranger, who gave the children each a booklet to fill out in exchange for a ranger badge. We looked at most of the exhibits and were working on the books when Bob saw that it was 15 minutes until the Doctor’s appointment. So we made a mad dash to the car, and he dropped Riah and I off at the hospital door.
Arkansas Children’s Hospital is as difficult to navigate as most others I’ve been in, but we made it to the check-in desk right in time. Riah was measured, weighed, cuffed, and probed. Well, he had his blood pressure taken, and his heart monitored. We watched half of Johnny Depp’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. (Bob took the others to the capitol building where they heard school choirs singing Christmas carols.)
The long and short of it is, his heart is worse than we had last been told. His valve is leaking about the same as before, but now it’s dilating as well, and this concerns the doctors. Since our Primary Care doctor here in Huntsville failed to obtain any of Riah’s medical records, the doctors don’t know how much or how fast his heart has changed in the last year. They say we should come back in 6 months to see how things are progressing, but they think he’ll have to have surgery within a few years. In the meantime they say he can run and play, but no heavy lifting/weight training. So we are a little frustrated about that, but still know God is in control. At any rate, we will change Primary Care doctors, since this one couldn’t even hear the anomaly in Riah’s heartbeat, and wouldn’t get his records for him, and took 6 months to get the referral to go see the specialists.
Today was also Bob’s birthday. We wanted to have a nice lunch to celebrate, but he couldn’t really think of anything he wanted, so we started on the road home. There was nothing on the way out or Little Rock, so we stopped in Conway. We ended up at T.G.I.Friday’s. I’d never been to one before. It was okay. The food was all very good, and Bob’s appetizer was very generously sized. The waiter was in hyper mode and would dash off to get our order almost before we had ordered it. Dessert was a birthday splurge, but somewhat disappointing. Bob ordered “Oreo Madness” which was described as cookies and cream ice cream covered with an oreo crust and fudge and caramel sauce. It was an Oreo ice cream sandwich! Same as you can get at the grocery store for $1. The children each got an ice cream as well. The bill came with tip included, and set us back $80.
I drove after that, since Bob’s knee was already hurting. Not far out of town it began to rain. And then it poured. And then it lightninged. And I felt that the van was shimmying, so pulled over and Bob checked the tires, and he drove the rest of the way home. We stopped in Fayetteville (we came home via the interstate instead of the pig trail) for supper at McDonald’s. There was no church tonight, as they were building the set for Sunday’s play, so we stopped in and talked a bit and finished up the decorations.
Finally we made it home and now I will go to bed.