Thankful for great local care

Oh the irony. My last column — The case for slowing down — happened to publish the weekend I got the stomach flu. And when I say I got the stomach flu, I mean I really got the stomach flu. I had no choice but to slow down.

Wash your hands, folks, and if you’re sick, don’t go around a bunch of people.

For someone who doesn’t get sick often, and even more rarely gets severely sick, getting a miserable case of the stomach flu was less than ideal. I’m not sure if the guilt of not being able to work or the actual symptoms were worse, but I was good for nothing the Friday morning I came down with it.

I’ll spare you most of the details, but let’s just say it wasn’t something I could solve on my own. I went to the doctor that day for some medicine and they told me if I still couldn’t keep any fluids down, I’d have to go to the emergency room. As it turned out, ice chips wouldn’t do the trick, let alone fluid.

I woke up at 1:30 a.m. that Saturday and knew I’d have to make a trip to the ER. Admittedly, my Type A personality did not like that I couldn’t control what was happening and was very frustrated. I could barely stand, both from exhaustion and severe pain. My mom was the lucky winner who got to take me to the ER.

Oh, and it happened to be the night we got freezing rain and everything was iced over — remember it’s only 2 a.m. I guess if there’s any parking lot that’s good to fall in, the ER is as good as it gets. Lucky for us, we skidded our way into the UnityPoint Health – Marshalltown ER without any issues on the ice. Even luckier for me, I hadn’t needed to visit the emergency room in years, which is certainly not a bad thing.

Still in a great amount of pain, I had to sit while my mom got me checked in. After a short wait, I was back in an individual room with a nurse getting my vitals. She thought, as I assumed would happen, that I’d have to get an IV to get fluids. Dr. Lance VanGundy confirmed and also ordered a few lab tests just to make sure it wasn’t something more serious.

Luckily (or as lucky as you can get in that situation), it was just the stomach flu. After a few hours of getting fluids in me via the IV, I was able to go home. My mom, I’m sure, was also ready to go home. She wasn’t privy to the hospital bed and didn’t get to doze off like I did.

I still didn’t feel great, I was tired as all get out, but I was in good spirits, had much less pain and was on the road to recovery. More importantly, I was glad to find out that there was nothing more serious going on because the hospital took the time to make sure of it.

The Times-Republican has extensively covered changes to health care operations in town, especially that of UnityPoint’s takeover of the local hospital. The challenges UnityPoint faces are in some ways unique to Marshalltown, but in many ways more related to industry-wide challenges hospitals face in small to mid-sized communities. The hospital needs patients to choose its services to stay in business, and the patients need the hospital to have the right services for patients to choose to seek care there.

I don’t have all the answers for the challenges and I don’t know what other future issues the hospital may face. But I do know that I sure was glad to have great local care when I was miserable with the stomach flu and I’d be happy to choose those services again.