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August 31, 2018
Cape Girardeau, Missouri: A Visit to the Emergency Room

Following yesterday’s bicycle accident, Russell pretty much kept out of sight on the steamboat. We watched the entertainment shows from private box seats. We ate dinner in our cabin and went to bed early.

The view from the box seats: The Storefront Congregation Bluegrass Band; Riverlorian Jerry Hay as William Clark. Jerry told a one-hour narrative of the Lewis & Clark expedition entirely from memory.

We mentioned that the Grand Saloon is modeled after the Ford Theater. We sat in the box where Lincoln was assassinated.

But ever since then, everything and everyone has been a continuous example of southern hospitality.

Yesterday, our Paducah friend Todd said he would be happy to buy and ship us a new bottle of moonshine to replace the one that was lost in the accident. Today, Gail got a message from Milinda, the sweet woman we met in Lowertown. She had also read about our accident and was very saddened. She went down to the Moonshine Distillery to buy us a new bottle. When the distillery owner heard our story, he refused to take Milinda’s money. Instead, they have offered to send us a replacement bottle at no charge.

Today’s port was Cape Girardeau, Missouri, where we would park for half a day between noon and 4:30 pm. Our original plan was an American Queen premium excursion to learn about the “Trail of Tears,” the large forced relocation of Native Americans. Our revised plan was a trip to the local hospital. Gail was adamant that Russell get checked professionally, especially since his chin and lip still had not stopped bleeding after a day.

Normally the deadline for cancelling excursions is 36 hours in advance. Both the purser and the excursion desk were very gracious in giving us a full refund, given the circumstances. Even better: we learned that another couple had really wanted to go on this excursion, but it was full. Our last-minute cancellation enabled them to go.

Yesterday, Larry the EMT had provided us with contact information for local hospitals, urgent care facilities, emergency dentists and taxis in Cape Girardeau. When we docked today, Frank the Watchman made arrangements with the captain for us to disembark as soon as the gangplank was lowered, before any other passengers were allowed off the boat.

We called a taxi to take us to the hospital a mile and a half away, but it took a long time to get to the dock. On a whim, Gail went to chat with the volunteers at the local hospitality booth. One of them said, “I’ll drive you there.” Jason is a software developer who used to live in Los Angeles and take business trips to Sunnyvale. He has since returned to his home town of Cape Girardeau.

We went to the Emergency Room at Southeast Health Hospital. When Austin, the attending nurse, walked into the room, we did a double take. He looks exactly like our nephew Eric (who is also studying to be an EMT).

Southeast Health

Once again, Russell takes advantage of free Wi-Fi. (Note the bandages on his hands and chin.)

The good news: Russell has no broken bones, whiplash or concussion. Austin recommended no stitches after 12 hours, as that only increases the chance of infection. Instead, he and the other nurse cleaned and re-bandaged Russell’s various wounds.

The bad news: Austin noticed that both of Russell’s upper front teeth are loose. We had called our dentist back home earlier this morning, and he said that we were doing all of the right things: following the accident, Russell had immediately put on his orthodontic retainer and was keeping it on. We still don’t know if he will ultimately lose those teeth or not, but there is nothing more to do until we return home.

The other good news is that Russell is in no pain whatsoever. (On the other hand, he looks like a duck with his upper lip twice its normal size.) We decided to walk the mile back from the hospital to the steamboat.

Downtown Cape Girardeau

Almost every port on the Mississippi has flood walls decorated with murals. The ones at Cape Girardeau were particularly humorous.

Here’s Napolean (in the bathtub) at the moment he decides to sell the Louisiana Purchase to the U.S. His brothers are aghast and his servant faints. The French flag is lowered as the American flag is raised.

Union Generals Grant and Prentiss showed up in Cape Girardeau on the same day with conflicting orders. They got into a fight over who was in charge. Grant won.

The other bad news is that Russell will not be able to eat anything that requires using his front teeth. As Gail stated, “No hamburgers for the rest of the cruise.” By the time we reboarded the steamboat, they were no longer serving lunch. So Oscar, our amazing maître d’, checked with the kitchen to see what they could come up with for a late lunch. He personally delivered a room service platter of chicken and rice for both of us.

We carried our room service lunch out to the Front Porch Café.

As we said, everything and everyone has been a continuous example of southern hospitality. Now that Russell knows what he is and is not allowed to do, he is starting to talk more and interact again with the other passengers. What are we telling people? “Don’t be surprised if you see us riding bicycles again in a few days.”

Wherever we stop in port, locals come out to look at the steamboat, greet us and see us off.

A couple of young women, Rachel and Chelsea, played their guitars and got children dancing. Gail thought they were so cute, she disembarked again to go chat with them.


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