It was a perfect Spring day in Northern Virginia. We headed over to Great Falls National Park on the Potomac (Virginia side) which is only an eight mile drive through winding back roads (it’s shorter if you walk, but we didn’t do that). After parking, we headed west along the river. Soon, we crossed over from the national park to the Fairfax County park, Riverbend. In all honesty, it looked pretty much the same. Below is a scene from the Riverbend side. There is a dam extending across the river (Maryland is on the far side–kinda looks like Maryland over there, doesn’t it?)
The wildlife was out in force, both in the air and on the ground. Below is a lovely tranquil spot that reminds me of my youth. In the summer, after eight grade, I was walking very near here on a family outing. I was stepping from stone to stone at the water’s edge (as kids are want to do). Some of the rocks were slimy, and I slipped. Into the water. Covered with slimy Potomac River water, I pulled myself out, spit out the slimy sludge, that was the river water, and tried to wipe off. Over the rest of the walk I dried off enough, that with the help of some towels, I didn’t get the car seat wet.
The rest of our vacation was uneventful. But… a week or so after returning home to Florida, I began to feel ill–weakness, fever, stomach pain. My mother, a registered nurse, did her typical medical stuff, but I got worse. Off to the hospital at MacDill AFB. Doctor there said I had a 24-hr virus (a weeklong one, apparently) and sent me home. It might be noted here that I looked so sick and pathetic in the waiting room that the duty nurse pushed me up on the waiting list by several names. A few days later, after further sliding downhill, my mother called a civilian doctor she worked for at Tampa General Hospital. Within an hour and a half of that call (without ever seeing the Doctor) I was lying in a bed, he arranged, at St Joseph’s Hospital. I spent a week to 10 days there. I don’t remember much because I was only semi-conscious most of the time. The orderlies would change my bed sheets several times a day as my fever would break, causing tremendous sweating. They would roll me to one side, change half the bed, roll me to the other side, and change the rest–I slept through most of it. After a week of testing, they transferred me to Shands Teaching Hospital at the University of Florida, in Gainesville. More tests occurred; including a spinal tap, bone marrow extraction, and blood draws multiple times a day. The verdict: Typhoid Fever. The problem: I began showing signs of improvement and the doctors feared treating me with the standard drugs of the day might cause my own antibodies to further protect me without actually killing the disease. I would become a carrier (Typhoid Mary?). I had to continue to fight this on my own. Apparently, it worked. After about three weeks in two hospitals, and another few weeks of bed rest at home (ninth grade had already started without me), I was back to normal–a little weak, but normal.Anyway… thanks to the efforts of industrious people, the Clean Water Act, and institutions such as the EPA. The Potomac is no longer a health hazard. It seems a shame that we may be heading back to those days.
This was a wonderful day to walk along a beautiful river.