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May 18, 2009
The longest day: Clements to Lockeford

Today Russell walked… hm… keep reading…
Total traveled so far = 43.53 miles

“The body can take damn near anything. It's the mind that needs training.”
– Marcus Luttrell (Navy SEAL), “Lone Survivor”

I almost called today’s entry “A gut-busting day,” for more reasons than one.

As I reported in my first letter for today, I hit the road in Valley Springs this morning at 5:45. By 8:30 I was 5.1 miles away in Burson, where I had my first opportunity to use a restroom. My urine was bright red.

When I reported this to Gail, she immediately went into “wife” mode. She called an advice nurse at Kaiser, who suggested that I be seen by a doctor as soon as possible. I told Gail that I expected to arrive at my final destination in Lockeford by 1:30 pm. She made an appointment for 3:00 at the nearest Kaiser, a half-hour’s drive away in Stockton. She also made plans to drive all the way back up here to meet me in Lockeford, since I had no car.

At 11:15 I arrived in Wallace, a good 45 minutes later than I had planned. I used a restroom again. My urine was bright red. I suggested to Gail that if there was a clinic in Lockeford, I could save her a drive up. Gail had several conversations with Adele, a nice lady at the Lockeford Chamber of Commerce, and discovered that there is indeed a clinic in Lockeford. She made an appointment for me at 2:00.

At 2:00 I arrived in Clements, a half hour later than my latest revised plan. I used a restroom again. My urine was bright red. Gail went ahead and cancelled my Stockton Kaiser appointment, as there was now no way we could physically make it. She also had another conversation with Adele, who confirmed that the Lockeford clinic was walk-in and open until 6:00.

By the time I finished lunch, it was 2:45. Gail had been freaking out all along, but by now I was beginning to freak out as well. To walk from Clements to Lockeford would probably take me another two hours. Given my current condition, I was no longer sure that walking was even a good idea right now.

I must have looked rather pathetic at that moment, because just then I was approached by none other than Terry Webster himself, the owner of Webster’s Country Burgers where I was having lunch. Terry asked if I was stranded. I told him my predicament, and he offered to drive me to Lockeford. (After having been in business for more than 45 years, Terry has had his share of stranded patrons.)

Terry dropped me off in Lockeford at 3:00 and I sat in the waiting room for Dr. Pak Chan’s clinic. While waiting, I telephoned Gail to ensure that Kaiser would cover my visit to an external facility, especially since there was a Kaiser within 50 miles. Gail confirmed that Kaiser would reimburse my care.

I filled out a health questionnaire at the clinic. The receptionist, May, took one look at it and said, “Kaiser won’t let us see you.” I explained that Kaiser had confirmed they would reimburse, and she repeated, “Kaiser won’t let us see you.”

May: You need to go to Kaiser. They’re on West Lane.
Me: I don’t have a car.
May: Kaiser won’t let us see you because we’re a clinic; we’re not urgent care.
Me: I don’t have a car.
May: There is an urgent care facility that you could go to.
Me: Where is it?
May: It’s in Lodi.
Me: I don’t have a car.

By now it was 4:00. I called Gail with the bad news – I currently had no way to be seen by anyone. Gail made arrangements to drive up at 5:00.

Russell made a point to introduce himself to Adele at the Lockeford Chamber of Commerce. She's looking at our web site.

I went ahead and walked to the Inn at Locke House, my reserved accommodation for the night. I went to my room and used the toilet. My urine was perfectly normal.

I called Gail. She was just about to hit the road to drive up to Lockeford. I gave her my update and told her to go home and wait instead. My hostess had given me an entire pitcher of lemonade, and I drank the whole thing. I used the toilet again. My urine was perfectly normal.

I did a web search on “red” “urine” and “dehydration,” and all I got was a whole bunch of web sites about bunny rabbits.

I had a 45 minute phone conversation with Margo, the friendliest and funniest Kaiser advice nurse I’ve ever spoken to. I had no symptoms: no fever, no swelling, no redness, no nausea, no nothing. I had just peed red three times and now everything was normal. My question was simple: “Can I go ahead and walk 15 miles tomorrow?” Margo was stumped, and she ended up pulling an ER doctor to ask him about it. The ER doctor told me to come in to Kaiser as soon as possible.

As the doctor put it, “You are doing something to your body that it doesn’t like.” He was concerned that if I tried walking tomorrow, I might cause complete kidney failure. Margo tried several times to schedule an appointment in Stockton for this evening, but the system wouldn’t let her. She finally told me to just show up at Stockton's urgent care. I passed the info to Gail. She volunteered to drive up immediately.

Gail arrived at 9:00 pm and proceeded to drive me to Stockton Kaiser. Unfortunately, she had google-mapped “7373 Westland” instead of “7373 West Lane,” and we ended up in a residential neighborhood in a completely different part of town. Fortunately I had seen a street sign for “West Lane,” and we were able to find Kaiser. It was now 9:30 pm.

We went to urgent care, where the receptionist told us that everything was by appointment only. Gail was about to go completely ballistic when the receptionist said that a nurse could schedule me an appointment after evaluation. More waiting. Finally, nurse Gloria screened me. She said she would schedule me for an appointment and told me to get a urine test at Laboratory A.

I went to Laboratory A and peed into a cup. I asked the technician what happens next, and she told me to go home. I argued that I was supposed to get my results tonight. She told me to log on to the website tomorrow to see my results.

This time, I was livid. The worst-case scenario was that Gail had just driven two and a half hours so I could pee into a cup and go home. We went back to urgent care and asked to talk to Gloria. More waiting. Gloria reiterated that I had an appointment with the doctor at 10:45. The lab had made a mistake. It was currently 10:30.

In the waiting room, Russell continued to work on updates to the web site

More waiting. We were finally led in to see Dr. Harold Young at the stroke of midnight. Due to a shift change, our nurse was no longer Gloria, she was now Claire.

Dr. Young had an incredibly wonderful bedside manner for someone who had to be wide awake in the middle of the night (Gail and I certainly were not). Dr. Young shared several things:

I asked my bottom-line question again. Dr. Young was amazingly quick and perceptive.

Dr. Young: You want a doctor to tell you that you can continue your walk tomorrow, correct?
Me: That’s right.
Dr. Young: You can continue your walk tomorrow.

(At this point, Gail mumbled something to the effect that she should have slipped Dr. Young a $20 to give me the opposite advice.)

Dr. Young also said that in 60 percent of cases like mine, the tests will never reveal what caused my problem in the first place. But the bottom line is that if I should have a recurrence of red urine during my walk, I shouldn’t worry. At least, I won’t bleed to death.

Dr. Harold Young, Russell's best friend today

Early in the day, Gail and I made a strong agreement that we would not tell anyone this part of the story until we had a resolution. We now have a resolution – at least as far as we’re going to have right now.

By the time Gail and I returned to Lockeford it was 1:30 am. My hosts were not only open to Gail spending the night but enjoying breakfast here as well. Breakfast is at 8:00 in the morning. Gail is already asleep. It is currently almost 3:00 am. I have been awake for more than 23 hours. And I’m scheduled to walk 15 miles in the morning

I started today with a sunrise. I'll end it with this spectacular sunset in Lockeford

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