Welcome back! This blogisode of Don’t F*&% With the Pancreas is brought to you by Rob Meffe, who is finally feeling well enough to play with the kids in Lake Kezar.
I am currently sitting on the porch of the beautiful lodge enjoying a breeze with two chipmunks for company. It's much better than where I was two weeks ago sitting in hot and humid New York City with mice for company.
Back to our medical comedy. We’ll pick right back up with the questionable tuna fish and the long van ride home. It is important that you properly picture the cargo van full of 10 actors in varying amounts of stage makeup, talking a mile a minute, texting on their phones, pulling bobby pins out of their hair and generally speaking, being loud. Now imagine the traffic for inbound Lincoln Tunnel on a Saturday night. jam packed with cars full kids in their twenties decked out to go to clubs in the city. Now imagine being Rob Meffe, stomach gurgling, in the back seat. Misery.
If I were James Frey (author of A Million Little Pieces), I might augment reality to create a dramatically satisfying scenario whereby Rob makes the van pull over in the middle of The Lincoln Tunnel, backing up traffic for hours, attracting traffic copters, police cars and an ambulance. I won’t. In reality, the poor guy managed to make it through Jersey, through the tunnel, into midtown, onto the 45 minute standing-room-only A train, and finally, finally in our front door.
Rob, nice guy that he is, came through the door, asked me how I was, listened to my ten minute long story about trying to put Beatrix to sleep, and finally mentioned in an off-hand way that he wasn’t feeling well.
If I were a German Shepard, my ears would have shot up, because Rob never admits to being sick. Sick? What kind of sick? After riddling him with questions, it was established that:
1) It was a stomach ache.
2) It was getting worse by the moment.
3) He was sweating and needed to lie down immediately.
Rob went to the bedroom and I started to clean, which is what I always do when I am worried. This dates back to when I was about 10-years-old and my brother was at a concert in Cincinnati that had general admission seating and several kids were trampled to death as they rushed in to get good seats for The Who concert. We didn’t hear from him for hours and hours, during which my mother says I cleaned the kitchen and every bathroom from top to bottom. The Who concert was the end of general admission seating around the country, and the beginning of my worry-cleaning. While I worry-clean, my mind races, and in this case, I was worried that he had a contagious stomach flu. Not that a stomach flu is a huge big deal, but right before Christmas we’d all been horribly sick with it. Having no washer and dryer in the apartment, it meant numerous trips to the laundry room in the basement of our building to wash sheets and towels, because crossing a toddler with a stomach flu is messy business (every parent reading this blog is now nodding their head in agreement.) While some of you might be judging me as being uncaring and self-serving, I know a fair number of you have been in this exact position... food poisoning or stomach bug? Only time can tell. I scrubbed the sink and went through the day to see if I could remember if Beatrix and Rob had shared any food (Which I was now silently referring to as cross contaminating. I can go from stomach flu to a world-wide epidemic in two minutes flat). I tried to blame the questionable tuna instead of a contagious global plague, and went in to see how Rob was doing.
As I walked toward the bathroom Rob yelled. “Do not come in here.”
No need to ask me twice. I did ask if he was okay and if he needed anything, I maybe brought him a glass of water, but beyond that there was little I could do; it was really him and the tuna left to duke it out. I marched back to the livingroom to clean baseboards. Worry, worry, scrub, scrub. Take a break and Google food poisoning. Can occasionally require hospitalization. Worry, worry, scrub, scrub.
A few minutes later, armed with Lysol, I went back in to find Rob in the fetal position mumbling, “That was bad. Horrible. Maybe tuna. So painful. Trying to sleep it off.”
“Should you go to the hospital?”
“No, no. It’s just the pain that was so bad. A tightening around my chest, like a band. I’ve never felt anything like that before. Has to be food poisoning. It's getting better.”
That sounded weird, a tightening? He did seem to be a little better though. “Should I sleep in the livingroom? Do you want to be alone?" The neurotic part of me was chanting Germs, Germs, Germs. I'm not proud of my fear of a stomach flu, but I will admit it and accept it as fact. If someone within 500 paces says their stomach hurts, I instantly wash my hands. Repeatedly. And then I run away.
Rob looked up and said with a weak voice, “Maybe you should sleep on the couch. I might keep you up.”
Say no more, I thought, as I grabbed pillows, making him promise he would come get me if he got worse.
After a fitful nights sleep that involved silently checking on Rob 1,500 times, Mr. I’ll-Never-Eat-Tuna-Again emerged from the bedroom in the morning. He was pale, a little clammy and wobbly, but dressed in all black with a plan to go play the two shows at Paper Mill Playhouse. He tried to smile his way through the conversation. I was not such a supporter of this plan.
“Rob, you can’t go play two shows today, you are sick as a dog. You look like you are going to collapse.”
“No, I’m fine, I feel great! (Big smile) Really! It’s all out and I’m on the mend!”
I interpreted the above sentence as Sharon, don’t be a worry wart, they are counting on me, it would be a pain in the ass to find a sub and we need the money. Like it or not, I could see, he was going.
After much deliberating, we agreed that he wouldn’t take the train, but instead, he would take the car and drive himself, since my only plan with the car was to go grocery shopping. He took the car and the grocery list. So, if you are keeping track, not only was he playing two shows, but also driving himself and doing the family grocery shopping. I can’t speak for you, but personally, if I have been sick, I hole up in my room and watch a marathon of Miss Congeniality and Sweet Home Alabama on TNT, feeling no guilt about missing obligations. I have the flu! TV in bed day! Rob Meffe, pale like a vampire, was suddenly Superman.
To his credit, he DID drive himself, he DID grocery shop at Trader Joes, and he DID play two shows. His recovery was as rapid as he’d expected. No one caught the feared flu, so we chalked the whole event up to bad tuna at the burger joint and moved on.
Later, much later, as in today, July 4th (I’m writing a couple of days ahead of when you are reading), Rob admitted that he was actually having chest pains in the bedroom and feared he was having a heart attack. I stared at him blankly, speechless, scared, wondering why he didn’t tell me. Seeing that he scared me, he said brightly, “But see, I didn’t have a heart attack! That’s good news!”
As the months progressed and these episodes continued, we equally blamed Mexican food, dairy, coffee and general overeating. Finally, scared after doing some Google-diagnosing during a miserable bout, Rob decided to go to a real doctor (not a Google doctor) and get some tests done.