No, this isn’t going to be some rant about dysfunctional families or having to eat the same gross Thanksgiving pie that Aunt Lucille has baked for the last 23 years. It’s more of a celebration of sorts. You see, a year ago this past Wednesday (the day before Thanksgiving), my wife, two children and I spent the day at the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona suffering from rather severe cases of carbon monoxide poisoning. This year, we decided to return to the same hotel where we were poisoned to get back on the horse, as it were.
A year ago, the otherwise wonderful Four Seasons Resort in Scottsdale had a problem in a couple of its rooms. Apparently, there was some backup from the exhaust of the pool heater which, somehow, vented into the air conditioning system of our rooms. We had the only rooms that were effected and the people that were in the same rooms the night before had no problems. In the great cosmic spin the bottle game, the Coke bottle pointed at us.
Luckily, my wife woke up with a splitting headache and found me passed out in the bathroom where I had gone to get aspirin for my splitting headache (to be clear, the luck part is that my wife woke up at all). The kids, in a separate room, were not as bad off, but were clearly effected. The initial diagnoses, which called for a day in a hyperbaric chamber was changed to a less stressful day in the emergency room of the hospital attached to respirators with pure oxygen and gallons of saline IVs. We were very lucky that the emergency room physician happened to be a toxicologist and was able to diagnose the problem quickly, which is apparently quite difficult because the symptoms are similar to a wide range of problems.
At the end of a long day breathing from a tank and drinking through our arms, we were able to join the family members we came to visit in Scottsdale for a pre-Thanksgiving get-together. Obviously, we had an awful lot to be thankful for last Thanksgiving. There’s nothing quite like a near-death experience to help straighten out what’s important.
This year’s stay at the same hotel has been much more pleasant. Sure, there was a little anxiety considering we almost died here last year. Who wouldn’t be a little concerned, right? But I’m writing this on Thanksgiving morning and my family made it through the night (actually, I have a headache from the pitcher of margaritas I drank last night, but self-inflicted poisoning doesn’t count). My daughter had a little trouble getting to sleep at first, thinking that the whole experience was “creepy,” but, in the end, slept like a baby.
Before my experience last year with the odorless killer, my attitude toward carbon monoxide poisoning was a passing curiosity, at best. It happens so rarely, and even then most often when people do silly things like place unvented heating elements in their living rooms, that you never think it can happen to you. I now know that no one is immune. My family is among the lucky ones that survived it and we get to celebrate another Thanksgiving holiday with a whole lot to be thankful for.