Nine days ago, I sent this email to my friend, Ben Williams:
Remember how we were talking about coming there in March? Well, would you be up for hosting us a little bit sooner? Like, say, maybe… tomorrow?
Three weeks ago on the farm, Rachel hopped down off a wall onto uneven ground and hurt her hip. It didn’t bother her much until yesterday, but now she can barely walk.
We were scheduled to go to a farm in southern France tomorrow. The host wrote us this morning and said she could not accomodate us. We saw these as two unfortunate events occurring concurrently, but perhaps God knew it was best for us not to be in a rural location right now.
What Rachel wants more than anything right now is a place to lie down for a couple days. She has some meds that might clear up the problem within a few days. If they don’t, and she needs to see a doctor, we’d like to be someplace where we know people. Between you, Rachel’s former host family, and Germany’s healthcare system, Stuttgart’s the most attractive spot on this half of the planet.
We can catch a train from Paris and be up there around 3pm tomorrow. That’s really short notice, so if it’s inconvenient, please don’t hesitate to say so. We can probably crash with Rachel’s host family as well.
Ben wrote back with a single line, followed by his address:
“No problem! Come. I’m looking forward to seeing you and giving Rachel some time to rest.”
Staying with Ben and his family has been amazing – the perfect way to lay low and take things one day at a time. They’ve been such great hosts, making us feel so welcome, and we have really enjoyed hanging out with their girls – a one and three year old.
Unfortunately, the meds we thought might help, didn’t. On Tuesday, Dorothea (Ben’s wife) took us to the hospital, but the x-rays were inconclusive. The doctors in the ER thought she had an arthritic hip, but Dr. Khanna, who owns the orthopedic and sports medicine urgent care clinic in Chicago where Rachel worked before we left, disagreed and thought it might be torn cartilage. We can’t tell without an MRI, which would be a pain in the ass to get here.
Her hip is inconsistent, making it difficult to know what to do next. It only hurts when she’s standing, but not when she’s sitting or lying down. Some days she can walk just fine, some nights she can barely put weight on it.
When we thought it might clear up, we looked into riding out the rest of our trip at hostels and home-stays. When it became obvious it wasn’t going to go away, we considered the “stay here but stay off it” plan: cut the trip short, but first visit Rachel’s friends in Munich, Budapest and Berlin, confining ourselves to their apartments for the duration of our stay.
Saturday night, thanks to the worst pain she’s felt yet, and some good counsel from friends, we decided to come home. We will fly back to Buffalo on Sunday, drive back to Chicago on Wednesday, and on Thursday, Rachel will get an MRI at Dr. Khanna’s office.
Obviously, it’s disappointing to come home half-way through our trip. But… we still ran around Europe for a month-and-a-half. We spent two weeks on a farm in the mountains. We saw old friends, and we ate a lot of great food. That’s not too bad. There’s also a strong chance we’ll return in May, due to the fact that it’s $2,800 cheaper to purchase a roundtrip ticket than a one-way.
The greater concern is Rachel’s hip. Neither arthritis nor torn cartilage are attractive diagnoses. Right now we just want to go home, figure out what’s up, and continue to take it one day at a time.