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The hospital third floor was clean, airy and inviting. Out the window, one could see the tall palms swaying in the onshore late spring breeze as wisps of thin and passing gray fog lined the blue sky. Summer is right next door and spring is fleeting.
Sue came home a month ago with tummy trouble. Eating became a chore she didn’t want to do. Nausea, pain and sickness settled in rapidly, sometimes when she ate, sometimes when she didn’t. Food became nothing more than a necessity to keep alive. It was always uncomfortable, always sickening but necessary. Something was wrong.
A month’s worth of expensive medical tests, each one a little more invasive than the last revealed the unusual characteristic that her gall bladder stopped working. No stone lodged itself, no clot, tumor or foreign body invaded, it just no longer did its job at the expected level. Diagnosed with a condition called cholesystic dyskinesia, which literally means a gallbladder that doesn’t work properly, the doctors decided the organ needed removing.
Up against a strange and self-manufactured clock, we wanted to deal with the issue quickly because we had pre-paid hotel bills for a vacation to San Diego. Cancelling the trip meant losing the money, or having to sell the rooms to someone who wanted to go in our place, and it also meant that our foreign exchange daughter, Conni, could would not get to go on the vacation with us. At the same time, in our small town, there is only one general surgeon and his first appointment for a mere pre-operative visit was a week before we were to leave on vacation. This meant that we’d either have to cancel or Sue would have to go on vacation feeling miserable and eating next to nothing in a place where food is half of the reason to go.
Our family physician, a fine and good man who has become a good friend, helped us find another surgeon just down the road in Oxnard. So last Monday, June 3, Sue was able to get into see him and as we prayed for a simple answer to this self-manufactured silliness, Sue called me from his office that morning to tell me that he had a slot open on the surgery schedule the next morning at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, a place we know well as Sue served as Chief Clinical Dietitian there and more importantly, our daughter was born there.
We were due to the surgical suite at 11 am and when we got there, we signed some forms and immediately Sue was whisked back and prepped for surgery. There was hardly a wait. By 12:30, they were getting IV’s in her and the nurse came in to tell her what to expect. By 12:45, the anesthesiologist was giving her a dose of relaxing medication and off she went.
While she was under, our dear friend and our pastor, Craig Beeker, came to be with me. We went across the street, cell phone in hand, to eat a quick lunch and when we got back, it was about an hour of talking and catching up. It was just what I needed to keep my mind off the ineffable worry and doubt. In the midst of conversation ranging from faith to community to the future of the church, Dr. Bryant came out and told me that Sue came through surgery just fine-that her gall bladder was indeed thickened and scarred and that he believed her tummy trouble would subside greatly. He was able to do the procedure laparoscopically and that meant diminished healing time. Even now, four days later, Sue feels much better, if a bit sore from the procedure. When she eats, there is no pain and no nausea. Last night, our friends the Tartisels made dinner for us with a vegetable and bean soup, vegetable quiche and Caesar salad and Sue ate all with no trouble. Delicious, too.
So, for posterity, then. 10 years from now, this will barely be recognized. It was a year ago that the school year ended, June 8, 2012 and two days later, our family went to Philadelphia, Washington D.C. and Baltimore to visit family and see the sites. That is, perhaps a memory that will last longer. But this year, Sue came through with flying colors–healing, happy and looking forward to the summer to come.
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