Trip turns sickly

By Anita Tedaldi: FNM columnist

I’m writing this column from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago – actually from the attending physician’s personal laptop. Now, if that’s not superb patient care, I don’t know what is.

The question you may be asking is why am I in a hospital in Chicago?

Let me start from the beginning. I took a road trip from Florida to Chicago with my five darlings and our babysitter to get to a media conference where I’ll be speaking. I knew that in my particular situation, getting to the windy city was going to be as challenging as me trying to get on the Olympics javelin men’s team, but I decided to go for the impossible. I was determined to make it work, despite my deployed husband, kids who had to go to the bathroom every few minutes and 971 miles to go, so I plugged along through Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana and finally Illinois.

I intended to have my column done before getting to Chicago, but everyone was sick on the trip and the Internet at our hotel in Nashville was pitiful to say the least, so I had to wait to get to destination where I knew Internet would be better.

Alas, other plans were in store for me.

Just as we approached Chicago I started getting violently ill, and I mean sick like I hadn’t been in years. In a cold sweat, hands shaking, teeth clattering, my first thought was that I had the swine flu and carried it across five states. My second thought was that I had the regular flu and spread it across five states.

I tried to take loads of Tylenol and Advil but I wasn’t getting any better and once in the hotel I had to see a doctor.

I walked three blocks to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, a walk in which cars, buildings and people seemed to float around my eyes. As soon as I got there, they gave me a little mask to cover my nose and mouth. I could already see that the quarantine had began, and the headline on the Chicago Tribune would soon read, “Writer-patient-zero contaminates Chicago and half of the United States with swine flu”. The hospital staff quickly moved me to a room where the nurse started an IV and took five vials of blood.

Aside from worrying about my health, I still hadn’t finished my column so I had to get my hands on a computer — my own at the hotel. When my young and very friendly doctor came into the room I told him that I had five kids and came on a business trip, that my husband was deployed and that I really had to finish my writing because I was way past the deadline.

Then I gave him my best sick puppy smile.

It worked! The doctor laughed and told me that I was funny, or crazy, and that I could use his personal laptop as long as I wrote stellar things about my care at the hospital and his specific role.

Thank you Dr. B and staff at memorial. And by the way, I’m not carrying a deadly disease, just a bit of dehydration and exhaustion so if you see me around you can shake my hand without worrying that you’ll drop dead a few minutes later.

Anita Tedaldi is a freelance writer, mother of five and wife of an Air Force pilot. Contact her at: anita@anitaovolina.com