Seventy-Eight and Sick

sickIn my seventy-eight years, I have had most of the common ailments of life, fortunately none very serious (I can hear my wife, my mother, even my grandmother … saying, Knock on wood).  Yes, knock on wood.  I’ve had mumps. measles, chicken pox, and an assortment of flus, including COVID.  When did we start naming our flus?   I’ve had a few minor surgeries and spent a few nights in the hospital.  I am hypertensive and diabetic, thankfully both under control with the help of modern medicines.  My old friend, Don, when I used to complain about one of these maladies, used to say, That would have killed you fifty years ago.  Don was a mensch.   Luckily I have avoided the awful illnesses that appear on the return address bar of solicitations we receive requesting donations for research … Parkinsons Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, Heart Disease, Alzheimer’s, Arthritis … the list goes on and on … and of course, the Big C, Cancer.   But I have watched friends and families deal with these diseases, some losing their lives.  After 78 years of life, I sometimes wonder when number will come up.  It may even have begun … I’ve developed arthritis in my lower spine which limits my walking unless kept at bay with a spinal steroid epidural.

Saturday, a week ago, I woke up nauseous.  Not just a little.  I ran to the bathroom and only gagged but I remained borderline nauseous all day and couldn’t even bear the thought of food.  I’d had days like this before and assumed it would pass by next morning.  It didn’t.  Now, like many men, I am a baby when I’m sick.  I give my wife Muri a play by play of how I’m feeling and then turn down her suggestions of various home remedies (she is a Jewish mother, after all).  Sunday was no exception.  She suggested tea (made it worse), bananas (ditto), rice (gack), apple sauce (ewww).   Finally, she hit on chicken broth which helped a lot.  But I was still periodically nauseous and sometimes vomiting 5 days later.   Why?  Well, next Tuesday we are scheduled to visit my grandkids in their new home in Texas.   I had scheduled my spinal epidural for Thursday afternoon so my legs would be good.  Would I feel well enough to go or would then not give me the treatment because I was sick?  Would I spend my time with my grandkids hobbling around like the old man I am?   And that little voice in my head began telling me, It’s your turn … its cancer.  My doctor had an opening Thursday morning, so I took it.

I didn’t sleep well Wednesday night and awoke nervous about the day ahead.   My doctor looked concerned when he heard my symptoms and told me that I’d lost 20 pounds.  He asked if I had a colonoscopy and endoscopy recently … I reminded him that I had had one less than a year ago when I had another unexplained weight loss.   He did blood work and a urinalysis, then sent me off with two medications, an anti-nausea drug, Zofran and a drug for stomach irritation, Prilosec, telling me he’d call me tomorrow.  I tried to sleep through the afternoon until my appointment for a spinal with little success.  The spinal takes only 15 minutes and as awful as a needle in the spine sounds, it is no big deal and for me, it is miraculous.   The pain in my legs disappears quickly and within a few days, it’s gone.   On the way home we picked up my prescriptions and I popped my first Zofran.   By dinner I was almost back to normal.

When the doctor called Friday, he asked how I was.  I told him I felt much better and had begun eating normally.   He told me my blood work came back good and based on my previous endoscopy, my discomfort was likely due to a recurrence of an inflammation of my stomach lining.  Not cancer.  Whew.  Here’s what I found interesting.  When I researched the drug Zofran, I learned it was developed for cancer patients who are undergoing chemotherapy and the nausea that often accompanies it.   So, the pills that cured my nausea were a product of a treatment for the very disease I fear most.   There is something profound about that, I think, although I don’t know exactly what.  And to paraphrase my friend Don again, Fifty years ago I wouldn’t have been going to visit my grandkids next week.  I’m glad to be 78 and feeling better.

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2 Comments on “Seventy-Eight and Sick”

  1. granny1947 Says:

    So glad you feel better.


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