Months To Years Summer 2018 MTY_Summer2018_v7 - Page 7

It was a good visit—as always too fast—and the night eat lightly, but that if I wasn’t feeling better in a few days I before I left to go home, my stomach began to bother should return. me. I assumed it was something I ate, or the anxiety of   traveling, but something was brewing down there and, as The uncontrollable hiccupping started on Wednesday. the saying goes: the shit was about to hit the fan. Whatever was wrong with me seemed to keep morphing. The symptoms were strange and didn’t add up. I was I returned to work on Tuesday, January 29, after a couple hardly eating, and I felt weak and tired. I slept a lot. I of weeks away. The week was uneventful, except that called in sick the entire week. my stomach continued to bother me. When I left for the day on Friday, February 1, I wished my co-workers a nice Still hiccupping and feeling strange on Saturday morning, weekend, and went home. I had no idea at all—why would I reluctantly decided to go back to urgent care, despite the I have?—that I’d never return. trek I’d need to make in the February cold. I showered and shaved and dressed and made myself a bigger breakfast Over the course of the weekend, I went to the Menlo Park than I’d eaten all that prior week. I think I had scrambled Library to return a book. It was a new nonfiction best-seller eggs, toast, and juice. In retrospect, I imagine I would about a physician’s near-death experience, and how that have savored that meal more if I’d known it was to be my instilled in him a certainty of the existence of Heaven. My last for several days. own feelings on the subject were a belief in a Creator, but I wasn’t sure about an afterlife. My father had died a little I bundled up in my parka, slung my new black vinyl purse over a year earlier from Lewy body dementia—was he still over my shoulder (mom’s birthday gift to me last month), somewhere, hovering? I always wondered. and braved the cold at the bus stop on the corner of El Camino and Roble Avenue. It was a short bus ride to the I also saw a matinee and had lunch at Round Table Pizza. depot downtown, and from there I walked to the Palo Alto For me, it was the usual ho-hum weekend I generally had. Medical Foundation, where I had been only four days But, looking back now, I wonder if I would have spent that before. time differently, had I known what was lurking like a ghoul   around the corner. The urgent care lobby was practically empty. I checked in, took a seat, and my name was called only a few minutes My business-as-usual weekend changed when I went to later. I was brought to a large room and told to lie on the bed on Sunday night. My stomach felt funny. I could hear gurney. The doctor appeared—a short, middle-aged man strange, sloshing sounds inside my belly. What was this— with a dark mustache and a white coat. He had a kind was it the peppers on yesterday’s pizza? I remembered face and a patient manner, and I trusted him. I explained reading that peppers are supposed to be difficult to my symptoms and he examined me. “Hmm,” he said when digest. Though uncomfortable, I wasn’t overly concerned, he pressed my belly, which at this point was hard and but I called in sick on Monday morning just to be sure I distended. It hadn’t been on Tuesday. was OK.   The hiccupping concerned him. Of course, I was worried— I felt ill all that day. My appetite was poor. That night, but not overly so. He would find out what was wrong with again, I had the sloshing sensation in my stomach—but me, fix it, and send me home. Of that I was sure. “I want also a disturbing twisting in my belly that, though brief, to run some tests,” he said evenly, not tipping his hand. was still frightening. When I still felt ill on Tuesday, I decided to go to urgent care. The doctor there said I likely The doctor ordered blood work, a urine test, a chest had a stomach flu. She suggested I continue to rest and X-ray. At one point he thought I might have pneumonia— 7