Why You Haven’t Seen Me Around Lately

Don’t you love this picture? I stole it from my daughter who, like me, is subject to documenting her life in photos, plus she knows I love chickens. She found these during the recent Apple Festival at the Queens County Farm Museum in New York. I’m using it for my post today because it felt oddly appropriate in light of several health scares I’ve gone through lately.

At the time I first saw the picture I’d just posted a story in which my uncle refers to eating chicken feet when he was growing up. Naturally the first thing I thought of was how it was probably good these young pullets and roosters didn’t realize that at any time they would meet the grim reaper as he was probably waiting just outside the fence picking one out that very minute. Wouldn’t have mattered anyhow because there’s not a goldarn thing they could do about it.

At the time I was awaiting results from a liver biopsy and I really identified with those chickens. The good luck I’ve already had in life so far held out one more time for me though. The markings that first showed up in an ultrasound were only fatty deposits that apparently resulted from a family gene that I was so lucky to inherit. All it meant was another pill to take, plus a couple of added vitamins, and the doctor announced I was good to go. Actually his exact words were, “you’re in good health for the health you’re in” which I found strangely reassuring.

Move ahead then to Tuesday of the past week. Hubby and I started our last week of classes, both of us all eager to finish up classes on Thursday. After class we attended a special movie screening of CHINATOWN for anyone who wanted to attend. Neither of us are predisposed to turning down old films for free on a big screen. It’s nice to see how movie making has changed, see familiar actors back in their youthful state, and compare as well how we’ve changed ourselves over the years.

What startled me the most is that I hardly remembered a thing, only the scene where Faye Dunnaway finally levels with Jack Nicholson about being forced to have sex with John Huston (her father in the film). It was still so powerful, no wonder I’ve didn’t forget that part!

By the end of the movie, it was already six o’clock; we were both starved so we decided to stop off at a local Mexican restaurant for dinner. I mention this fact not because it’s relevant, but it explains how restaurants get crossed off my list of places to eat. I think you’ll understand why if you have the patience to continue with this story.

Shortly after we got home I was on the phone with a friend who’s been recently diagnosed with lung cancer. After suffering round after round of an experimental treatment, which was the only hope her doctor handed her, she finally said “No More.” You never know what to say to people in that situation! I suspect one of the reasons may be that we have a “guilty survivor” complex.

I know that I do as I’ve lost many members of my family to cancer already: sister, brother, several uncles. I may not talk about it but it’s always on the back of my mind. “When will it be my turn, and how have I been so lucky to have been spared?” And there’s always that nagging voice in the back of my mind. “One day it’ll be your turn.” “And there’s not a goldarn thing you’ll be able to do to change it.

I was amazed at how bravely Vy is handling her situation, wondering how I would handle it should I be the one–like those chickens–to be the next choice of the Grim Reaper. I’m pretty sure I’d be ready to jump off a bridge someplace into a busy freeway. It’s the terrible psychological ordeal of knowing beforehand that would bother me most. Selfishly I hope to die either in my sleep or quickly and unexpectedly, probably in much the same way we’d all choose if we could.

We’d been chatting for more than half an hour when suddenly I felt completely and utterly exhausted even though it was only a few minutes after eight. I quickly made my excuses and hung up to join Hubby watching television, remarking to him how tired I felt. I had to give up by 8:30 to go to bed. I fell asleep almost directly.

About three hours later I woke up to spend the next hours until daylight running to the bathroom every hour on the hour, or everytime I took even a sip of the water on my nightstand. I’ve had gastrointestinal upsets before so Hubby thought we should go to the hospital. Needles. Tests. Then they hydrate you and send you home and all you ever know is that you had another one those vague “viral” things. So I resisted at first, until I too was finally convinced it would be worth anything to feel better.

After nearly a day in the emergency room and lots of blood draws, I was admitted. Over the next days I was poked and needled half to death, told the same story over and over again to doctor after doctor, and was told the Ct-scan showed something going on in my bowel.  Even though I’d had a colonoscopy only 18 months ago, I was prepped for another one.

All the time I’m wondering if it’s finally my turn. I kept having mental pictures of Vy, my sister, my brother, knowing this is what they must have gone through. In that interminal length of time, however, I’d come to the conclusion that I would face whatever was to come as bravely and with as much grace as I’d seen exhibited in all the examples mentioned.

But again, my luck is holding out. The scoping revealed only an irritated bowel, source unknown. Plus they found and removed a small polyp they expect to be benign. Finally the pesky little bacteria was isolated. I was lucky the doctors had already started a round of potent antibotic that turns out to work on my particular bacteria. I’m sure most people are familiar with how unrestful a hospital really is. I got about 3 hours of total sleep during the entire ordeal. But it was almost worth it to know that my luck is still there.

I apologize profusely for such a lengthy story, but it explains why I’ve been away from your blogs and mine for the past week. Full recovery will not be quick and will run a linear path I’m told by my doctors. It’s not the kind of recovery where you feel a little better each day, but where you may feel very well one day and not so good the next.

I hope to post some future stories that play up the positive aspects of my little adventure, the wonderful care and people I met, but it may take time. Recovery, as they say, will be slow. Meanwhile, although I’ll never know for certain, but there’s a good chance the seafood chimechanga I ate Tuesday for dinner was NOT the culprit. The bacteria can be picked up in many places. But just in case Tres Amigos, if you happen to notice that I don’t come there anymore, this is why.

Update: I was just interviewed by telephone by a representative of the Salt Lake County Health Department. The source of my recent intestinal malady is a nasty little bacteria called campylobacter, or the “campy virus.” There have apparently been enough cases reported in the county that they’re trying to pin down the source. I gave them the names of all the restaurants we’d eaten for the last two weeks of October, one of which happens to be a very fancy and ultra expensive place nestled in the Cottonwood Canyon foothills, and the only other I can think of, a local Soup or Salad. So it probably didn’t come from Tres Hombres, but I’ll still never be able to make myself eat there. Too bad, too, because they have strolling mariache bands on weekends and the best and biggest margaritas around.

15 thoughts on “Why You Haven’t Seen Me Around Lately

  1. These things can take a long time to recover from. Please be patient and give your body a chance to heal.

    When I was a kid, we didn’t eat the chickens’ feet but I gathered them up and had them tap dance. Keep dancing, Alice.

  2. Thanks Colleen and G. I’m already feeling better with more sleeptime.

    Grace, for you, in spite of having been born with two left ones, I’ll try to keep my feet dancing. Great mental picture, a child holding chicken legs that are tap dancing. Doesn’t take much to entertain creative minds, does it?

  3. Gosh, I am so very sorry. I’m the proud owner of an irritated bowel, and any better at any rate is better than before. So glad they found a polyp and took it out too. We will eagerly watch for you.

  4. Thanks Mage. Those of us who have IB syndrome must appreciate public facilities more than most I daresay. Just lucky I guess, like you say. Just be careful which foreign country you decide to visit. I say countries that cater to our more basic needs like that are the ones that’ll get my yankee dollar!

  5. I understand something of what you went through because I was told the night before surgery that I either had pancreatic cancer or gall stones. Since my gall bladder had been removed many years before I feared the worst LIke you, I was lucky. Apparently when they removed my gall bladder the doctor didn’t get all of the stones and they had been hiding and growing in my bile duct. I had a reprieve, but it certainly makes you appreciate each day more.

  6. This was quite an ordeal you went through, Alice! AND….I’m amazed at HOW closely it resembles Ray’s episode this past April and AGAIN when we were in France a few weeks ago.
    Just an FYI……are you familiar with Citricidel Plus? I hadn’t been either and a blogger friend told me about it. So I researched it on the Internet. It’s actually grapefruit seed extract (capsules) and I guess even Oprah talked about it and raved about it on her show. It’s used for IBS, and many other things. It also boosts your immune system, thereby preventing many of these bacteria that certain people are prone to. WELL….I’ve ordered it for Ray…….I’ll let you know the outcome.

  7. It will be best if we don’t imagine that we are suffering from some type of cancer when there is something wrong with us.

    Being a pathologist, I have that inclination. My children will stop me whenever I did that.

    “No dad, you’re not suffering from cancer…you’re just suffering from hemorrhoids!”

    Yes, that is the only disease that I have been suffering from all these whiles. – Hemorrhoids or piles or whatever.

    I have undergone colonoscopy – nothing, except hemorrhoids.

    I had tried ligation, it was just too painful and not worth it. So I skip the schedule and stop going to that particular hospital.

    So, take care of what and where you eat. There are bugs everywhere!

  8. Hi Alice,
    Sorry to hear you’ve had such a bad week. I hope today’s news has cheered you up. It’s made me feel great. I’m such a pessimist I was afraid to believe Obama was really ahead. And, imagine, even Ohio and Pennsylvania went for him. Now all we have to do is survive the next 75 days.

  9. Azahar, I appreciate your taking the time to comment. You sound so like me when I’m waiting for any type of test results, but especially colon. Glad to hear yours was only hemorrhoids, painful but better than a lot of other things it could have been.

    And Ruthe! Everybody I’ve talked to screamed or burst into tears of happiness last night. We got the big news around 9 p.m. mountain time. I spent the rest of the evening waiting to see McCain’s concession speech and see you know who’s face. Then I shed a lot of tears seeing all the happy faces and hearing Obama’s address. He’s a classy man. I have high hopes he’ll be the classiest president I’ve seen in my lifetime. I’ll be away for awhile on a little R&R. Hope your travels continue happily and safely. I’ll catch up when I come back.

  10. Ohhhh I am sorry to hear what you have gone through the last couple of weeks. I do understand the games the mind plays when you are waiting for test results and have been warned what they are expecting to find. I tell myself every time that happens I will not allow myself to worry and plan who will speak at my funeral but I generally realize how anxious I have been when the good news finally arrives.

    Your bowel infection sounds really miserable. I hope you are resting and will allow yourself plenty of down time to recover. I, too, am happy with the wonderful results of the elections.

    For your information I have about 13,600 words on novel number two. Sometimes I like it and sometimes I don’t but I am pushing on. It is a good exercise if nothing else.

  11. Hi Alice! This episode must have brought back memories of the days when you were hugging the porcelain throne because of your gall bladder. Agreed. Hospitals are no place for a sick person who just wants some rest. But, at least the food is safe and someone else changes the sheets. You’ll recover much faster on R&R. My Rx: Eat chocolate and read tabloids.

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