Charley Project Facebook user Michelle S. found this article about the 1987 disappearance of Ronald Oquilluk (who was not on Charley) and how he was identified over thirty years after he went missing. It’s a very good article and there’s a bit at the bottom about the recent identification of missing hunter Patrick Chambers.
Oquilluk’s case reminds me of the 2016 disappearance of Walter Hawk, another Native Alaskan man with special needs who wandered into the wilderness and never came back. What’s particularly frustrating in Hawk’s case is that searchers actually saw him in the days after he went missing, just hoofing it across the tundra, but apparently they weren’t able to get his attention. So close, yet so far.
I’ll say it again: Alaska eats people.
Oquilluk’s remains were found a full 450 miles from where he was last seen, and I wonder whether Hawk wandered as far as that. He disappeared during the summertime, and if he knew how to live off the land he might have been able to survive for an extended time period.
So Michael is still in the hospital and they’re thinking he will be until Monday. There’s a lot of fluid backed up around his heart that they’re trying to flush out.
They’re saying his is a mild case. They think chances are he caught some kind of virus last winter and it lay in wait for a few months and then decided to start kicking his butt. If the congestive heart failure was caused by a viral infection — which is usually the case with younger patients like Michael — he can make a full recovery.
My own father developed severe congestive heart failure out of nowhere six or seven years ago, and they were predicting he’d die or at least need a transplant, but then he inexplicably got better just as quickly and mysteriously as he’d gotten sick, and his cardiologist called him a medical miracle. They think Dad’s CHF was also caused by a virus.
I saw Michael today and he looks and feels a lot better, though he’s tired and spends most of his time sleeping. He was chronically sleep deprived anyway, and this whole “sleep sitting up” thing the last several weeks hasn’t helped. While at the hospital I signed papers to be his medical proxy if necessary.
Our friends have been awesome, helping both of us out a lot. They were worried about me but I’m doing fine actually. He’s in the hospital, he’s where he needs to be, and he’s getting better. There’s nothing more I can do for him at this point, besides visit, and I’m doing that.
I think our pets are confused by Michael’s absence. Our one cat, Carmen, keeps wandering around looking in all the rooms and I swear she’s looking for him.