Life is a fine thing. Happy are those who enjoy the journey. And my own particular journey has been mostly enjoyable. And I’ve been mostly happy for it.
But this past week a bird died. The poor thing started the week off as would be its want. The time had come, however, and it will not celebrate the coming of next week. I didn’t know this particular bird; had no particular interest in its comings or goings. And the loss of this individual bird will not complicate my life in any direct measure. We will all die in time, such is our fate.
Another of God’s creatures has survived this past week, though survived is the best one can say for the experience. Last Sunday a very close and special person (my wife, if one must know) came under the spell of a particularly strong pain throughout her body, but most heavily centered in the chest. Fearing the possibility of a serious heart ailment an ambulance was called. Emergency measurements suggested the heart was not to blame, but no better hypothesis for the source of the pain was on offer so she was carried off to the hospital for further examination. Tests and X-rays, scans, pokings and probings, consultations and lots of head scratching later we still had no definitive diagnosis. At this point one begins to appreciate the phrase: the stress is palpable.
I was dismissed from the proceedings as being of no further consequence in discovering the root of the ailment. But the Mrs. was held over for observation – and the certainty that if a prospective diagnosis should step forward the talents on hand at the hospital could surely render more aid than a journeyman soybean scientist. I couldn’t argue with that.
The night passed and the next morning we were only a few meager steps farther along the path. Serious nausea during the night was pointing toward suspects outside the circulatory system and more in the direction of the gastrointestinal machinery. Perplexing though were early probings to search for stones in the kidneys or gallbladder. There were none. Give this lack of evidence the gallbladder was passed over as the likeliest suspect. This was unfortunate.
Pain meds were prescribed and procured. We took the patient home to heal. But healing wasn’t on the near-term agenda. After a couple days of back and forths between aggravating pain and serious debilitating pain a follow-up call from the hospital seeking current conditions yielded the advice to see our family physician as quickly as possible. Our own physician being out we met one of his partners. Without the aid of a hospital full of machines and instruments he quickly decided the gallbladder to be the chief suspect (even in the absence of stones) and set up an appointment for the definitive analysis… at the same hospital and only one floor and perhaps 100 feet from where the first night’s experiments were conducted.
The definitive analysis yielded a definitive verdict. The gallbladder was guilty and must be removed. It was taken away the same afternoon (handcuffs would have been a nice touch, but it appears they are not made for such). Other details might be sacrificed at this time for their morbid nature, but I can offer that the modern methods for removing a suspect gallbladder are less aggravating than they once were. Still, it is a messy business, and a patient suffering over the course of many days and drugged with all sorts of medications is unlikely to bounce off the gurney and sing tunes from the ‘Sound of Music’. And I can confirm that this one did not.
Those who know me well are wondering why I’ve passed over the opportunity to suggest the first docs should have left no stone unturned. Or why I haven’t trotted out a cliché such as “Sticks and stones”; or the aphorism suggesting one who lives in a glass house should not throw stones… but really… there were no stones. And this was the painful part of it all. If there’d been a stone or two, even tiny ones, several days of pain might have been avoided.
Our story is not yet complete, but the ending does appear to be favorable. She is due to be released yet today, and recovery set to proceed apace. I’m wondering whether to play ‘Sympathy for the Devil’, ‘Gimme Shelter’, ‘Honky Talk Woman’, or ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’ on the ride home from the hospital. Bob Dylan has an anthem for this situation as well. We’ll see.
Oh, for those familiar with the human anatomy it might seem curious why a gallbladder issue inciting such pain should present at the center of the chest rather than at the side nearer where it resides. This journeyman soybean guy wondered as well. Seems a faulty gallbladder is a notorious riddler and can present on the right shoulder, the back, and – well… at the side; stones optional.
Dead bird pic courtesy of: