Monday, December 6, 2010

Weekends in Wichita Falls

This last weekend I went to Wichita Falls to see two concerts.  Josh Weathers Band (who I’ve blogged about before) was playing Friday night and Del Castillo (a Latin Rock band from Austin) was playing Saturday night.  I was looking forward to Del Castillo because I had never seen them before.  They were both playing at The Iron Horse Pub in Wichita Falls so I decided to make a weekend getaway out of it.  I try to be mostly honest in my blogs so now I’m just going to let you know that I’m about to fudge some details.  You can ask questions if you want and I’ll try to answer.

I booked a room at the Howard Johnson in Wichita Falls.  It was a short cab ride from there to The Iron Horse Pub.  One of the first things that impressed me about Wichita Falls was the cab prices.  $4 for a ride from the hotel to the pub.  If I had taken that same ride where I live it would have been a minimum of $10.  And the cabbies are cool.  I took 3 cab rides which I might get to and in each ride, the cab drivers were personable.  It’s a rarity.

imageHoward Johnson had a bar and as soon as I arrived at the hotel I went to the bar and ordered a Shiner from this funny old German bartender.  If you can imagine having a persnickety old lady with a keen sense of humor tending bar, you’ll get a good idea of what she was like.  She was complaining about the 2 Christmas parties out back and she was the only one available to run the restaurant and the bar out front.  She was rather efficient.  You just couldn’t be in a hurry because she really was the only one working.

She had German efficiency which Americans and our “instant gratification” mindset don’t understand.  She didn’t start tabs.  She just expected her customers to be honest and keep track of how much they drank so when they came up to get the bill, they’d tell her what they had and she’d tell them how much they owed.  It was really rather refreshing.  Expectations of honesty are often underappreciated in the world today.  Just don’t tell Doctor House I said that.

At her busiest moment (bar full of happy hour patrons), one of the guys from one of the Christmas parties came to the end of the bar and asked her if she could make a “lemon drop martini”.  I thought she was going to faint.  She put her hands over her head and said, “I have no idea what that is.  I can make a lemon drop shot.  No, wait, I will try.”  You have to picture this in kind of a hysteria with a very distinct German accent.  I laughed so hard I almost peed myself.  She proceed to pour who knows what into this cup and deemed it a “Lemon Drop Martini”.  I’m not sure there was anything lemon (or martini) about it.  It was blue.

At one point she walked through the bar area and asked a group of guys standing out front of the bar if they’d been helped yet.  They proceeded to make their drink orders while she walked away calling back, “I don’t have time now.  I have to get the food out for a table.”  The guy who ordered was like, “Why did she even ask?  I feel like I’ve been the victim of a drive by.”

While I was giggling like a little kid, a big burly guy next to me was like, “Hey man, are you making fun of my mother-n-law?”  If he wasn’t smiling I would have shit myself.  As it was, I just said, “Man, she’s the greatest bartender ever!”.  I kind of thought he was joking, but discovered he wasn’t.  His wife was sitting next to him and she lamented about having to be brought up by the persnickety old German lady (in a playful manner).  I got the impression this old lady was well loved and respected by her family.

After the happy hour festivities, it was time to head to The Iron Horse Pub.  My first Wichita Falls cab ride.  The cab drive probably weighed 350 pounds, but he was 350 pounds of coolness and the ride only cost $4.  It was well worth the show so I gave him $7. 

The Iron Horse Pub is an interesting place.  If you’re ever in Wichita Falls, I’d highly recommend it.  They’ve got a pretty good beer selection for a place called Wichita Falls.  The show was good.  I met some people who I don’t remember.  They were cool though and let me sit at their table.

Before I can go on with the rest of this story, many of you will think that I drank too much.  And, I did drink, but not nearly enough to constitute what happened next.

Saturday at 3 AM I got sick.  Saturday, at 3:15 I got sick.  Saturday at 3:30, I got sick.  Okay, maybe slight exaggeration, but I was sick about every 30 minutes from 3 AM until 2 PM.  At 4 PM, I thought it was finally over.  I even managed to eat some soup and drink a 32 ounce diet coke.  By this time I had already cancelled my Del Castillo plans.  Then at 8 I got sick again.  Then at 11 I got sick again.  Then at 11:30 I realized I was back onto my every 30 minutes cycle and things were starting to hurt (real bad).

I think it was about 12:30 when I staggered into the emergency room of the local Wichita Falls hospital.  I guess I looked the part because they managed to get me to the front of the line.  The ER doctor said I was in DKA (or diabetic ketoacidosis).  Now, I’ve had diabetes for over 30 years and I’ve been sick before, but this was a new gem.  My diabetes never ceases to entertain.

My doctor, who I’ve been seeing every 3 months for the last 15+ years, always insists that I get a flu shot.  I always ask why because it never bothers me to get sick.  She always says, “Trust me.  With diabetes, you don’t want to get the flu.”

My weekend stomach virus or food poisoning or whatever it was made a believer out of me.  The ER doctor told me that when you get sick like that you get dehydrated and if you get too dehydrated your fat cells will quit using the insulin (from my insulin pump in this case).

Once they started the saline drip, the pain immediately started going away.  Sunday morning I was in the Intensive Care Unit of the Wichita Falls hospital on an IV drip of insulin, saline and potassium.  By that time I was already feeling better and was wanting to go home, but I could understand their caution about wanting to keep me.  The room I was in had one of those horrible crucifixes.  I really don’t like those things.  There’s a cartoon about them here.

At 2 PM, they let me out of the ICU and down to a more normal room (without a crucifix).  At 8 PM, they finally agreed to let me go home.  I did ask a hospital accountant friend of mine what would happen if I just yanked the chords and went home on my own.  She said that insurance wouldn’t pay.  Apparently you have to be released by the attending physician for Insurance to pay their part.  That’s probably fuel for another blog on another day.  It’s like a roach motel with a financial road block.

I took my last Wichita Falls $4 cab ride from the hospital back to the Howard Johnson where my car was located.  I was so excited to be back at my car, I left my discharge papers in the back of the cab.  I’m kind of nervous about what kind of personal information was on the paperwork.

It’s about a 2.5 hour drive from Wichita Falls to Dallas.  It was a very nice drive.  I was looking forward to be back in my own comfortable house. 

The people at the hospital were all very nice though.  I flirted with all the nurses even though my hair was disheveled and I hadn’t showered in two days and my breath stank like… Well, we probably don’t need to know that.


  1. This seems to have been your worst case of the vapors yet. Don't you think it might be a good idea for you not to venture out without a keeper?

  2. You know I have a "solo" cruise coming up on Saturday. You may jest about venturing forth without a keeper, but it has added a bit of stress to my cruise.

  3. Well, I distinctly recollect indicating my willingness to provide keeper service on that cruise, but my offer was rejected. Or ignored. Or lost. Or something. I really do not think it wise for you to venture into a floating venue without adult supervision making sure you don't tumble over a railing. You should have de-opted from cruising and had yourself a safe time in Vegas where there is no saltwater to drown in.

  4. Damn, dog, DKA is bad news. Glad you made it to the ER; that coulda really, really sucked way more than the considerable suckage it already incurred.

    At least most cruise ships have pretty well-stocked sick bays. Here's to hoping you don't have to find out!