In 1966, I was employed by Robins A.F.B., GA as and Electronics Repairer, when the word came down that we were going to get a Missile Repair Station out of Olmstead A.F.B., PA. There was considerable excitement about the news and, I felt it would be a great opportunity for advancement in my Civil Service career if I should be selected. I was selected to go to Pennsylvania on temporary duty to learn the Guided Missile Repair System and to assist in helping to relocate it to Robins A.F.B.
Initially, my wife Sheila and I decided that I would go alone since the temporary duty would only be three or four months, thereby saving money on housing and food. Later, however, Sheila and our three little daughters joined me in a very small trailer in the strange surroundings of a quaint coal mining town named Hummelstown which was nestled along side of a small river. We had some great adventures while living there which included going to Gettysburg, the famous site of the great turning point of the Civil War. The whole time we were there turned into an exciting adventure of exploring new places and things.
One weekend however, turned out to be a scary time which we did not bargain for. When I awoke on Saturday morning, I had a not unfamiliar pain in my mouth. I say not unfamiliar because toothaches and I frequented each other during my entire years of growing up. I knew immediately that this one had the earmarks of being bad because of the pain and swelling. At first I thought perhaps I might prepare some breakfast for us quietly, eat and then have the pain subside. Cooking breakfast has always been something that I enjoyed, probably because I always enjoyed eating a big breakfast during the years when I was a child. Once, breakfast was ready, I eased over to our bed and said, “Sweetie, come on and get up and see what I’ve got ready to eat.”
Sheila, never one to enjoy food at the crack of dawn, mumbled something unintelligibly, rustled in the sheets and turned her back to me.
“Come on, Honey … wake up while I get the girls up”, I said with all the enthusiasm I could muster while trying to ignore the increasing amount of pain in my mouth. After having only a slight bit more success in awakening Sleepy, Grouchy and Dopey, I was finally able to get the entire family around the small aluminum table in the somewhat diminutive area that served as kitchen and dining room in our temporary home.
I served the less than enthusiastic crew breakfast consisting of eggs, rice and bacon with a piece of toast as they struggled to join the living.
My first bite was the warning that said I might have a problem, “Eeyoooowww!” I yelled startling all the erstwhile sleepers who suddenly took notice of their surroundings at the table. Some jumped, all eyes widened and some mouths fell open.
“What’s wrong?” Sheila asked looking somewhat shaken from the sound of my scream.
“I’ve got a bad toothache and it is really starting to hurt.”
“Let me look at it.”
“Well, just don’t touch it or anything. Okay?”
She looked inside my mouth as I held it open and almost lost her breath, “Oh Honey, we’ve go to go find a doctor or dentist. It looks really bad ….. maybe abscessed even.”
After checking next door to see if the people there might have an idea where we might get in touch with a dentist, they said they did not think we would be able to find one on Saturday that was open. They did, however, loan her their phone book and telephone. After scurrying through the pages Sheila was able to find and make contact with a dental clinic that was open on the weekend for emergencies ….. in retrospect I think perhaps the clinic was either manned by dental students or off duty automobile mechanics. After looking inside my mouth they made a decision to extract the abscessed tooth immediately, thus the tooth and I parted ways forthwith.
Leaving the clinic almost immediately, I wasn’t certain whether I felt better or worse.
With more than a small amount of irritation at the unexpected series of events, I told Sheila, “I think I need to lay down. I am feeling shaky.”
“Come on over here and lay on the sofa,” she said as she whisked a pillow from the nearest bed applying it underneath my head. Seeing that I was not feeling very well, she pushed the little girls outside and said, “Play quietly and don’t go off anywhere.”
What seemed like only moments later, I was starting to feel extremely cold. “Honey, I’m freezing!”
Finding anything she could to place over me, Sheila quickly tried to make me comfortable. Nothing seemed to help as I began shaking uncontrollably. She lay beside me to avail her body heat to me in order to stem the onslaught of whatever was happening to me. Fearing the worst, she said I’ll be right back whereupon she ran next door to place a call to the automobile mechanic at the dental clinic. He said, “The poison from the abscessed tooth must have backed up into his system. Call the emergency room and they can probably help him out.”
Immediately she located the number to the emergency room and explained to them what seemed to happen to me earlier that day. They said to bring me in at once. Sheila asked the neighbors to look after our children, and summoned some help from a nearby friend to give her some assistance in getting me to the emergency room. I was hardly aware of being moved as they placed me in the back seat of our Ford Falcon. Getting directions Sheila headed to the downtown area where the hospital was located in our adopted town. Upon our arrival, the on duty doctor examined me and determined that I needed a shot of penicillin to counter the poison that had rendered me helpless. After the emergency room treatment, we headed back to the small trailer hoping for things to settle down. It was not to be! In a very short time after our arrival home, I started having difficulty breathing and Sheila noticed blisters forming around my mouth, on my face in my throat and on my chest. Racing next door to use the phone again, she placed a call to the emergency room where she again talked to the mechanic who had apparently come to the emergency room to help out. They told her to bring me back right away.
Once more Sheila loaded me into the car and headed back to the hospital where it was determined that I had an allergic reaction to the penicillin shot. “Don’t worry”, the mechanic reassured her, “we have something to give him to counter the penicillin.” After a shot of what certainly must have been STP or Fix-a-Flat, we headed back home once more to see if peace and tranquillity would await us upon our arrival.
After three days of rest, I returned to normal minus one tooth and with some memories that until now have remained beneath the surface of my mind for many years. I am certain many others have some emergency room stories they can share with us.
Wax Your Own Cheese
2 years ago