The following essay was a short story about my last March’s health issues. I’m trying to play catch up with my blog, and as you can see I’m several months behind! Here’s what I had published in the Inland Empire Califonria Writers Club monthly journal.
IN LIKE A LION AND OUT LIKE A LAMB
People refer to this saying when describing the weather in March. But I had to use it to describe my health last month.
The first day in March started out with a roar. I learned yet again another basal cell carcinoma appeared with an indentation on my face. To my surprise it would require a MOHS surgical procedure. Although no stranger to MOHS, nor to the doctor who had done it four times before on my face, I became scared. The location this time was not a place that I could hide with hair, unless I wanted to grow a beard. The fact that it was mid-cheek would require many stitches. I tried to forget about the whole thing and not worry. In the process I forgot about other things as well, such as drinking enough water and eating enough iron-enriched foods.
The next week I felt a hot a flash in church. My hot-flash days had flown by long ago so something felt amiss. The last two times weird feelings came over me happened immediately before my last two heart attacks. Since this new feeling flittered away as fast as it came, I ignored it, drove home, had something to eat and drink, and felt better. That must be it, I surmised.
Later, feeling tired and weak, it was time to walk the dog, so I ate a snack again and ignored what my body was telling me. When will I ever learn? On my way home from our walk, I feared I’d pass out. Luckily, I didn’t, and immediately called 9-1-1.
The trip to the hospital was uneventful. The paramedics ruled out another heart attack, but encouraged me to go to the hospital anyway. After six hours in the ER, with chest x-rays, blood tests, and so on, there wasn’t enough serious information to keep me there. They said I was dehydrated, anemic and low in iron. I knew that something was wrong. Why couldn’t they see it? My blood pressure never got over 90/55. I didn’t understand. Why were they letting me go?
We arrived home, and I could barely make it up our thirteen steps to our master bedroom. I huffed and puffed like one of the Three Little Pigs. I couldn’t catch my breath.
“What’s wrong?” asked my husband, alarmed.
“Well, it’s not my heart, so we can just go to sleep,” I said. “I’ll be alright in the morning.”
The next morning proved to be worse than the day before. I was even weaker.
“Please make me a good breakfast,” I said to my husband. “We were there until almost 10 last night, and they didn’t give me anything to eat.”
“Ok,” he said. “Let’s see if that will help.”
While Ken cooked breakfast for us, I looked over the discharge sheet with a long list of symptoms the doctor warned me about.
“Come back to the hospital if any of those show up,” he said.
Ken brought the eggs, sausage and hash browns to the table. It smelled and looked delicious, but I could only take a few bites. I know I’m sick when I can’t eat.
After I went to the restroom, I saw more of the symptoms on that paper. The sheet didn’t explain what the symptoms meant, only to call 9-1-1 if I saw them. So on day two, I called the paramedics again. One of the same men came back to my house.
“What can we help you with today, Mrs. Andrews?” he said, with a smile.
I showed him the paper with the new symptoms circled.
“They told me to call you guys if I had any of these. As you can see, several items are circled.”
Again their readings didn’t show anything abnormal with my heart, but they took me to the hospital where I was properly diagnosed. Bleeding ulcers were the culprit. Overnight my hemoglobin had dropped below 8.0. I needed some electrolytes intravenously fed plus two pints of blood. The doctor cauterized five ulcers on my stomach and duodenum.
Weeks later I had my MOHS procedure the end of March. The doctor removed thin layers of cancer-containing skin progressively and examined the cells each time until only cancer-free tissues remained. That’s all behind me now and my twenty facial stitches have been removed. The surgeon did such a beautiful job people no longer notice it and can’t believe it until they see the “before” photos.
The month of March took a memorable turn, but it went out like a lamb with a cancer-free face and no more ulcers.
“I look forward to the ‘April showers that bring May flowers,'” I told my husband.
“You don’t have to wait living here in Southern California, ” he said. “See our roses in bloom in our front yard? They’re just for you.”