5/17/2018 – Day One and a Trip to the ER!

May 17, Day 1

Patriot Pack members attending the celebratory send off at MWA:

Mike Stramaglio – Paco

Gavin Williams – Gordito

Andy Slawetsky – Slaw

Mark Albert – Bert

Doug Johnson – Doc

…and what a send off it was. The people, the food, the energy, it was a wonderful mid afternoon celebration. The actual ride kicked off with a few words from Bishop Ken Staker. Over the years I have heard people give religious blessings and some were intended to put the fear of God in you. Bishop Staker’s words were humble, uplifting, and on point. He shared the love of God from his heart to all ours.

Kick stands up, engines roared about 13:30. The Pack maneuvered into our scheduled line up and allowed SGT Stumpf and his partners from Scottsdale PD to halt traffic and allow us to begin our journey. Gordito took the lead and we headed east on Scottsdale surface streets toward Fountain hills. The Timber Lodge in Pine Top AZ was our intended destination. As we enjoyed every damned red light on Frank Loyd Wright AND Shea Blvd I began to wonder how I was going to make a story of this if we continued with no Pack Drama. We had traveled a good 8 miles and no one had dropped their Harley!?

The Pack turned off from Shea Blvd and onto The Bee Line,  AZ 87. Only two more traffic lights before revving up and heading toward Payson. I was looking forward to great roads and cool mountain air. As we approached the final traffic light Slaw made a sudden and dramatic move to the right waving wildly and signaling to exit and head into the Chevron at the corner. We fell into formation behind him and watched as he roared through the gas pump pad, narrowly missing the lady in the walker, and cam to a aircraft carrier style stop in the parking area. He got off the bike as we all assumed he had to pee. Slaw always has to pee. Instead he seems to be in pain and was walking erratically while shaking his arms. Turns out he was experience severe cramping in his forearms and hands such that he was unable to properly use the handlebar controls of his bike. It was probably a good reason to stop. Since all of the Pack are experts in triage medicine Slaw was given a tremendous wealth of advice.  Hydration, salt, sugar, ice… and some other remedies that will stay with the Pack.

After about 20 min of this Slaw told us he was ready to soldier on. Engines roared to life and off we went back onto 87. The ride into the mountains and Payson was marvelous. Winding roads, perfect weather and AZ Blue skies.  Traffic was light. As we entered Payson I noticed increasing discomfort with Slaw. At the next light we were to turn right and proceed on AZ 260 to Pine Top with a fuel stop in Show Low. Instead after some conversation with Slaw, Gordito led us into a strip mall parking lot.  It was not lost on us that we had parked in front of an Urgent care facility. Slaw hurriedly entered the facility while the rest of the Pack tried to wrap our heads around the events of the past hour.

Paco decided to got to Safeway and pick up some hydration. Gordito thought we should cowboy up and just shoot Slaw. That was met with less debate that I would have thought. Inside Urgent care there was talk about IVs and 2 hour wait times. Finally Slaw emerged and informed us the Urgent care folks suggested he go to Payson Banner ER immediately. This shit (Sorry Bishop Staker) just got real. After some discussion mostly due to the impending loss of daylight is was decided Paco, Gordito, Doc and Bert would move on to Pine Top and secure the hotel rooms while Papa would escort Slaw to Banner ER.  Off we went. As Papa sat in the ER waiting room with Slaw waiting to be seen it became clear he was not well. The man is from upstate New York so he exposure to sunlight is minimal at best but the clammy, pale color of his skin and look in his eyes were a sure sign he was in dangerous distress. The personnel led Slaw off to his ER stall while Papa contemplated how to present this to Mrs. Slaw. Now we could leave these events with a sound bite: “Slaw was experiencing uncomfortable cramps” and the obvious masculine ribbing that would attend such a soundbite, unfortunately for Slaw the reality of the events are even more “precious”. After about 30 minutes Papa went to the window to find a place to put Slaw’s purse/badass travel bag. Instead he was met with the invitation visit Slaw in his ER stall. The photo op was a bit too inviting. Slaw indeed was in bed with an IV which was seemingly ineffective and moving slowly. That may have been due to his refusal to stay put. If the fluid at the injection point is of a rose’ color it is an indication it is flowing up river rather than down. (The use of rose’ as the color is for the Papa extended family exclusively). We have a loved one in Chemo treatments literally at the same time Slaw was in his bed and rose’ is the color of the fine vintage chemo being injected) This is why we ride.

After another 30 minutes or so, mostly filled with abdominal cramping and administration interrogation, Papa left the ER to discuss plans B, C D and just shooting Slaw was still on the table. {Papa and Gordito had a conversation as the mini-Pack was at the Show Low fuel stop. We were working on logistics to get Slaw and his bike back to Scottsdale without him being able to ride. We were working on alternative hotels for Papa and Slaw assuming he was given a green light but too late to have any daylight to travel on the Mogollon Rim safely. No decisions made until we know Slaw’s prognosis.

Papa returned to the ER stall to begin further documentation of the events and update Mrs Slaw. She was taking this surprisingly well. It is clear the newlywed stuff has worn. Soon entered Slaw’s PA and this dude should have had a cape. He quickly noticed we were on bikes, apparently leather vests, boots and such gave it away. He saw the same
dilemma Papa had with the IV mechanics. He quickly took a BP reading. The reading when entering the ER was 196 over 98 but now was back into the 130s over 80s. Death was no longer imminent. He  repositioned Slaw and then dramatically repositioned his IV bag literally to the ceiling. Papa thought he may ask for him to squeeze.  We spoke with PA dude who also was a biker. We talked about the impending daylight loss and our intended destination. He looked at Slaw, then his watch, then Papa and said:  “You’ll be out of here in 20 minutes and I say go!” Papa looked at a 3/4 full IV bag and Slaw laying bootless in an ER stall and thought more about plans B and C.  It was time to take D off the table. No need to waste a bullet.

PA dude was true to his word. He expedited the check out process. The changing of the IV position caused the flow to act a bit more like the Colorado through the Grand Canyon and Slaw was looking less and less like a Zombie.  And just as PA dude promised we were back on the bikes and heading to Pine Top. We arrived at the Show Low fuel stop at dusk and as such had only the next 10 miles in the dark and most of that was not rural. We proceeded directly to the steak house as the mini-Pack had set up shop with appetizers, and inappropriate hydration, to wait for Slaw and Papa.

As Papa and Slaw entered the dining room a roar went up from not only the Pack but the staff and other patrons. This was a hero’s welcome for us… sort of. There may have been a booster seat for Slaw along with an IV bag with stuffed olives and dirty Russian mineral water. Barbara, the server, was the sharpest of tongues offering a kids menu and sippie cup for our Slaw. Slaw took this with his usual aplomb and we set out to have what became a celebratory meal.

At the meal it was deterred that Gordito would take on Bert over 18 holes of golf at 100.00 per hole. Since Gordito now plays twice per week… or month, he has the skills to take on an accomplished office equipment executive. Thus far in his career Gordito is O-fer when creating these athletic type challenges.  I expect a consistent outcome.

Paco took the time to gather the restaurant… entire restaurant, and have Papa sing for his meal. By the time he finishes his introduction Papa’s credentials rival those of Pavarotti. Barbara decided to join the fray with a physiological explanation and demonstration (with props) of a common human, well entire animal kingdom, function. No need for desert, it was time to go. Thank you to Sharp for the gift cards. The dinner was over and… paid for!!

The Pack made their way back to the Timber Lodge for a night cap to end a successful day. Gordito and Bert continued pre-gaming the discussion for their epic golf match. Since gambling is now legal in all of USA… bet on Bert.  Soon Papa received a text message from Mrs Paco… the one-of-a-kind Mo.  She still isn’t convinced Slaw shouldn’t have just manned up and moved on.  Slam some gatorade and get to riding. Her words were much more eloquent but I will not publish them here.

At the end of the day we had all members accounted for and all bikes running.  Perhaps Bishop Staker had a hand in this outcome.

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